Digital Photo Preservation Pointers

By Maureen A. Taylor

I hope that everyone had fun exploring the sites I mentioned last week! These sites are a way to share photos and stories, but are not a way to preserve your family photos.

If you want to preserve your photos try these tips.

  • Scan at 600 dpi as color images. I prefer the TIF format because it’s uncompressed. Don’t forget to scan the back, if there is information there such as a caption or photographer’s name and address. Scan at 100 percent scale at a minimum.
  • I don’t like to use the digital auto-correct feature on my scanner. I prefer to “fix” any photo issues with a photo editing program. One of my favorites is It’s similar than Photoshop and free. Unfortunately, you can’t upload TIF files, only JPGs, so you’ll have to create a jpeg copy of your scanned image.
  • Back up your digital files on a portable hard drive and/or print significant photos.
  • Preserve your family stories by recording them or writing them down.

Thank you to Sally Jacobs, the Practical Archivist for pointing out this survey on what online sites do with your digital files.

I had a great time in Washington, D.C. and found several additional images for my Last Muster project. The highlight of the trip was visiting the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. I was the only researcher in the department and boy did I take advantage of that to ask questions <smile>. You can view the majority of the collection online.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album