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Scanning Update

Scanning Update

This morning I was up early but not to shop. Before 9 a.m. I scanned another 487 photos. I have learned to scan all mindlessly. I can decide what to keep, whether it is a duplicate, etc., later. My ScanSnap saves both sides so if there is something on the back to help me identify the photo later that is saved. Step two of this process will be naming the photos.

While scanning the photos I have found those I had no idea I had and plenty that I can’t identify as well as innumerable pictures of that little girl everyone apparently loved to photograph. What is really bad is today I found a picture from 1957 where I could only identify one person [my oldest brother] and possibly another [neighbor]. My sister, who was not born in 1957 as I am sure she wishes me to point out, used her later time memory to suggest a logical possibility for two of the people. The other two remain a total mystery. As shown before here, sometimes an outside person can shed light on a picture. Never hesitate to ask anyone you can.

I am now down to one file drawer, about half full of documents not related to genealogy, and one box of photos. Unfortunately it is a large box and probably contains 12-1500 photos. The good news is half of them are travel, scenery, etc., which may not survive the pruning. Prior to digital we took some bad pictures and were stuck with them.

I’m not giving up my beautiful remaining bookcase even when it is empty but I do have three shelves of books relating to the later 15th Century in England I’m ready to donate. No genealogy unless you a Plantagenet.

Scanning Update

Scanning Update

Ok, Ms. Smarty Pants, are your files perfect someone asked? Nope. And my system is not perfect to begin with, rather it is one that works for me and may work for you.

In my defense I have computer files dating back to 1987. Most have had had their file form changed a couple times. I used WordPerfect then – and still do – but I didn’t have Windows. I don’t remember if they had Windows yet at that time. Yes, hard to believe. These days when I have time I convert non photo files to pdf and try to rename them at that time.

I also have multiple lines with the same name. I have maternal and paternal Wood lines, unrelated. Ditto Harding and others. There are the Downings who were unrelated until about 1855 when they began intermarrying. Then there are common ancestors where I have multiple lines of descent. Abraham Lucas and David Clark [the mystery man who never got out of New Jersey] are two examples.

You need to make a basic plan, using logic that makes sense to you and that you can remember, and adapt it to your situation as these things arise. Consistency is the most important element.

How are the pictures coming? I have maybe – maybe – half of the boxed photos scanned. We are talking literally thousands of pictures. Only a small portion are named. I have an idea for the that when the scanning is done. I have found duplicates and pictures that there is no reason to save – I had a fine time when I first got a digital camera. Not all of the pictures are genealogically related of course.

I have found some amazing old photos I didn’t even know I had. There are people I don’t know who are probably related. There are people I don’t know but I am certain they are not related. And there are so many photos of one cute little girl that even I am getting tired of her. At this point I feel like just scanning and naming all the pictures will keep me busy until at least 2025. And with the SnapScan the scanning is now easy.

Why name in the same order, ie, surname, first name, type, date, location? One reason is to make sure you put everything in the name. Another useful reason is to sort them. Example, if named properly the following files will sort as follows:

Downing John census 1790 Westmoreland Pennsylvania.pdf
Downing John census 1810 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1820 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1830 Logan Illinois.pdf
Downing John land 1803 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John land 1821 Logan Illinois.pdf

and so on. It makes it handy to see what you have.

Digital Organizing

Digital Organizing

You’ve been scanning away. Time to organize. If you follow the outlines of this flexible system you will always be able to find your digital documents. Pictures are a separate topic.

I use an external hard plugged into a USB port for my genealogy. It keeps my genealogy all in one place, can be easily removed and taken with me if needed and – this is important – it gets automatically backed up with my offsite backup procedure. It also makes it easier to create your own filing system because you don’t have to fight with your operating system’s idea of where things should be filed.

Name your people files in the following manner: birth surname, first name, type date location. An example: Downing William census 1860 Chester.pdf. I suggest you stick to surname then first name. If you want a different order for the other information that’s fine. There is no right or wrong. You are the one who has to find the documents later. Just be consistent.

The key, at least in my experience, is to be consistent. Consistency trumps just about everything. If you use a numbering system the number should be the first word in the file name. I don’t use a numbering system. It’s just one more thing to organize and remember but if a numbering system works for you do it.

Make eight directories, one for each birth surname of your great grandparents. Keep in mind that if you are doing this for your children that would 16 directories. Put everything pertaining to that ancestor in that folder. If you have a lot of information on ancestors prior to your great grandparents you may chose to make a separate directory for additional surnames. It doesn’t matter how many directories you make. This is digital. You have the room. Do what works for you.

I hear you. What about great grandmother Jane who was born a Smith and married a Jones? Put her in Smith. If you want to put a copy in Jones go for it. It’s digital. Duplicates aren’t an issue.

Also make directories for cemeteries, census, birth, marriage, death, land, etc. If you collect funeral cards make one for those. My census file has subdirectories for each federal census. A copy of all census documents I have is in that directory. Another copy of the individual page is in the appropriate surname directory. For documents in these files the name might be 1880 Census Illinois Logan Laenna.pdf. Illinois is obviously the state, Logan is the county and Laenna is the township. Using spaces between words makes it easier to find them through a digital search if needed.

Get the idea?

Now go to http://www.voidtools.com/ and download the free Search Everything. If you goofed in spelling but you included all the elements you can search on any one of the elements and find the file.If you misfiled it you can still find it. Search Everything only searches files on your computer, including the drives attached by USB. It will not search network attached storage or home servers.

ScanSnap 3 – Photos

ScanSnap 3 – Photos

I put nearly 200 photos through the ScanSnap in less than an hour while I was talking on the phone the other morning. It pretty much does everything for you. I feed them through individually after sorting a bit by size. It seems to work best if the guides are adjusted to the size of the picture but after the first couple that is pretty mindless. It scanned both sides if there was anything on the back at all. Some of the photos I put through are least 80 years old.

In some cases it assigned a number to the scanned pictures which would indicate the front and back are together and in some cases it didn’t. I didn’t feel it necessary to spend time trying to figure that out.

I have no idea how many pictures I have. There are more in that box and I have two additional larger boxes. I easily have 2,000 more. It won’t happen overnight but I am now confident I will get them done. It’s much easier and faster with the ScanSnap than the flatbed scanner I was trying to use [which is perfect for stacks of single sided pages and does legal size] and does not require as much of my attention.

After the pictures are scanned I spend time renaming them with names to indicate who is in the picture. Those that I have no idea or not enough information keep their scanner assigned number which makes them stand out as unidentified. It is easy to work with them in the ScanSnap Organizer although you don’t have to use it.

All my pictures are saved to a 1 TB NAS drive, that is a large drive attached to my router and available from any computer [or iPod or SmartPhone] on my network. There Picasa automatically begins working on the face recognition. Read about that here. It does some amazing things, sometimes telling me who is in the unknown pictures.

ScanSnap 2

ScanSnap 2

I have worked with the ScanSnap with pictures this week. Unfortunately I haven’t had enough time in the last week to put it through all its paces but I am impressed so far. I put some snapshots of scenery through it first just in case. This also gave me a chance to play with the settings, see how everything worked. They did well. I progressed, eventually getting to a 1920s photo in good shape. I was quite pleased. I don’t believe I would put the original 1862 wedding picture of my great great grandparents through it but since I have “new” copy of that I have no problem. I should point out that most of my old photos are in pretty good shape. If a photo was fragile or delicate in any way I would not put it through a sheet feed scanner.

This week I also took the binding off a paper bound genealogy book and fed it through. The hardest part was cutting off the binding, both mentally and physically. I had a hard time tearing up a book. It wasn’t that easy to remove the pages either. You need to remove all the glue bits, jagged edges, etc. I called someone who has done before and he recommended a high tech device — use my band saw. I also note that heavier paper, such as the cover of many paper bound books, does not feed well or in some cases not at all.

Where did I get the ScanSnap? It’s available in a lot of places. Amazon.com is a good place to start for many things. I suggest you search for it online and see what the going price is when you are thinking of buying. These things vary from week to week. For example, when I first began considering the ScanSnap there was only the 300 in the color duplexing portable department. Now there is the 1300 which is a bit better and a bit cheaper. And there are other models.

Mystery Pictures

Mystery Pictures

Last year I scanned all the paper. Bits and pieces keep showing up but, for the most part, I am current on scanning my documents. See Ancestor Hunting if you are interested in the details of how I did it.

Pictures are another story. I mentioned late in the series that the pictures were not done. They are still not done. In the interim one of my brothers [who never used a computer until very recently] has taken all the pictures he had and scanned them. Yes, he put me to shame. He has the same problem we all do — we don’t know who a lot of these people are.

If the picture is from my lifetime I can make a pretty good guess and probably find someone who agrees or recognizes themselves. Before that it is a guess. It may be an educated guess but it is often a guess. Further, others may disagree and there is no way to determine the truth. I need to work out some details [posting multiple pictures is not my greatest skill] but I think I will do it. If it works maybe other pictures can be added.

So I was thinking, almost all of my pictures came from Logan County so maybe posting them on a web site with a Logan County connection will help identify some of them. Maybe it would encourage me to get cracking on the scanning too.

In the interim, do you know these people? I know a couple people so I can safely say it is about 1905-1909.

Done Digitalizing the Paper

Done Digitalizing the Paper

It’s been awhile but at this point all of my paper is scanned in and pretty much organized. It’s also backed up. It’s a great feeling. That doesn’t mean I have entered all the information in my genealogy program or done everything I want to do with the materials but I have eliminated the possibility of losing it to, say, a hurricane.

I still have a couple boxes of pictures. For some reason I dread scanning them. Of course, I will not be tossing them after they are scanned either.

The multi-function Brother printer/scanner/fax/copier is attached to my router and available to all computers on my network. Sounds great, right? The reality is you really need to be sitting by the scanner when you are scanning.

I’m experimenting with software which allows me to write a caption on the photos so down the road people won’t say “who the heck is this?” as I have said many, many times.

Who Are Those People? – All Those Pictures

Who Are Those People? – All Those Pictures

Going Digital 4

Scan all your old pictures. That’s the first step. If you have many pictures think about scheduling an hour or two or three a week to the task until it is done. There’s plenty of advice online as to how to do it. Select the method that is best for you and get busy. As you scan them name them in whatever system you are using. I name them by surname first name(s) description and then file them in the appropriate surname folder. Some people assign them numbers. If there are many people in the picture and you know who they are this is the time to make a text file with that information. I save it with same file name as the picture ending with ID. Thus the picture is jones john and family at 1876 graduation.jpg [or .tif] and the text file is jones john and family at the 1876 graduation ID.txt. Getting the pictures scanned should be a priority.

You probably should start the identification process as you are scanning because you may need the help of people who don’t have forever left. Start with those with a few missing people and work up to those where you know only a couple of many or no one. Study the picture. Makes notes about what you do know in a text file you can save – date, location, event, who you can identify, etc. Share the picture and the text file with other researchers and family members. Great Aunt Nellie may not remember everything but she may recognize someone in the picture. Take a dozen pictures to her. Since she’s not computerized you can take those you haven’t scanned. [If she is send them by email.]

Set aside some time to identify pictures on a regular basis until you are done. In my case that will be the rest of my life.

Remember, your older relatives are your friends as are any older people who lived in the area where your family is from or who may have known the people in the photo for any reason. Researchers who didn’t live locally may provide clues — “looks a lot like Mary Jane Smith in this picture” or “don’t know who they are but that is the old house at the homeplace in the background.” Remember, none of us are getting any younger including those older relatives. This is something you should not put off.

I have a photo my mother clearly had all her adultt life. It’s probably a high school senior picture and based on the clothing she is close to the same age as my mother. I don’t know the person. My mother’s relatives do not know the person. My mother’s closest friends and high school classmates do not know the person. How did my mother get this picture and who is she? I intend to find out.

Unfortunately, just becase Great Aunt Nellie thinks it is someone you still need to seek other verification. I sent a picture to some older relatives. Two of them agreed as to some of the people in the picture and it seemed reasonable since these two relatives were actually in the picture. They should recognize the people, right? Unfortunately, several of the people identified were dead before those relatives were born. Later I realized some of those deceased people had children with the same name. Are those really the younger namesakes, a distinction blurred a bit by age? The investigation continues.