Digitize Your Family History
Genealogists are all about researching and preserving family history, so it makes sense that you should be doing everything you can to preserve your records digitally. But understanding that and doing it can be quite different, especially when you’d prefer to be hunting down records rather than scanning and labeling them. While you may be tempted to jump right in and start scanning (or take the risk and not do it all) you’ll benefit from taking some time to read through these digitizing dos and don’ts and come up with a workflow of your own. Take the guesswork out and digitize your family history with this online genealogy course, starting August 20th.
If you have photo albums sitting in a closet or boxes and binders full of old documents, you’ll want to get them all online to preserve them and protect your family history. In this 4-week course, you’ll learn the tricks to easily scan, store and organize your research online.
Do: Gather your materials together
Gather your documents, old photos, videos and cassettes – even the family quilts, wedding dresses and other items you want to preserve in one place, if possible. If it’s not possible, make a list of items you want to digitize, like “Aunt Marge’s photo album,” and keep that posted nearby. You can make a plan to tackle that as well.
Don’t: Start scanning just yet
Before you grab an album and start scanning, you’ll want to do some prep work. This will pay off in the long run, saving you time and possibly even money on supplies. Sort through your materials and organize them, whether by originals, duplicates, and notes or by each great-grandparent surname with a 9th pile for “other.” Learn why this step is important to your success in the course.
Do: Research your options
What type of scanner or camera will work best? Do you need a lightbox? Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive (or none of the above)? You’ll want to do your research to determine what options are the best for your research, taking into account your budget, storage space needed, and organization style. Get to know some of your options in lesson 2 of Digitize Your Family History.
Don’t: Digitize paper and photographs only
My sister has a VHS tape which has the only recording of our father’s voice. She’s had it converted, and you can do the same with audio and video recordings. Plus, the internet means that you can find tools to edit audio and video quite easily. Learn more about digitizing other items (such as quilts and vintage clothing) in lesson 4 of Digitize Your Family History.
Do: Be discerning about what you keep
Not everything needs to be archived. Clutter can be overwhelming, so you’ll want to curate your collection. Even online storage has limitations on free space.
Keep: original documents and photographs, negatives and items that are irreplaceable.
Toss: copies of records and printouts (such as census records) and items that have sentimental value or worth.
You’ve put in a lot of work to trace your genealogy. Discover the best method for preserving it online and digitize your family history starting August 20th.