THANKS for sharing this info.
I, too, am trying to use my scanner to input photos which were
"identified" and consult with "elder-folk" to get those pictures
haven't been , to do so.
It IS very important to label, even with just ONE item of information as
to who, or where, or when the "event" happened !
More than one of these pieces of data are BETTER; but, sometimes we are
pressuring the mind to recollect "THE" event !
I, too, have a relative who is "sitting" on pictures (sounds familiar ?)
. . . thinking that it is not her responsibility to label them.
Consequently, whomever gets this "inheritance" will nonetheless have a
challenge on their hands of identifying them, copying them and
distributing them to those "curious-" or "interested-parties", which
all have been at one point in time or another.
Agani, THANKS, for bringing this ever-so important matter to a FLASHING
Just as an aside, it would be GREAT if we LISTERS could
share(HTML-scanned) photos, and try to have them identified; but, due to
the "PLAIN-TEXT" rule of these forums/lists, that won't be for a while,
yet ! Would be nice though, don't you think ?
(Of course, keeping in mind that a LOT of folks do not have the
capabilities of either sending or receiving these-types of data, hence,
Get and keep those photos MARKED, hopefully with a non-intrusive (on the
back) to the picture itself type marker such as a PENCIL...ink seems to
Pencil-writing has been used for hundreds of years, and survived being
read, and not intruding onto the front of the picture itself.
AND, PLEASE don't STACK pictures face-to-face, as this destroys them
(the chemicals used seem to BOND together) and you will have a much
greater time trying to seperate them, if not IMPOSSIBLE task to do so.
(I speak from experience !)
I have in my 'puter for an article on handling, caring for, etc. of
Photos (for Geneology sake) that I refer to constantly.
I will include it in this message... it's fairly comprehensive:
PHOTOGRAPHY AND GENEALOGY
Copyright 1995 by Andrew J. Morris, All Rights Reserved
Most serious family genealogists include a collection of vintage
their family as part of their genealogical collection. These are
heirlooms that we cherish and protect, with the intent of passing them
future generations, that they might see, and feel as we do, the reality
heritage. But many of these unique and irreplaceable images will not
into the future, for lack of proper preservation. Nor do all
as full use of photos as they could, to document and illustrate their
history. This short guide will offer a brief glimpse into the nature of
photographs, and their use in genealogical settings. We also have a
History of Photography for those who want to learn more about the nature
evolution of old photos.
Photos as Artifacts
Photographs have a dual identity, first as objects or artifacts, and
images. For antique photographs, the material object is a unique and
irreplaceable item that needs careful handling and preservation to
future existence. The image it contains, on the other hand, may be
indefinitely, with no loss or diminution of the original. The best way
preserve the object is to hide it away in some dark, climate controlled
since light, humidity and atmospheric pollutants are some of the
dangers to its survival. Images, by contrast, are best preserved by
widespread distribution, as the more copies there are the less likely
all fall prey to the kinds of accidents that destroy pictures.
For genealogists wishing to preserve a family photo collection, then,
thing to do is first copy as many of the images as possible, distribute
copies as widely as possible, then store the originals safely away. If
your collection to last far into the future, never put those photos on
Instead, have faithful copies made, and display the copies.
The first threat to old photographs is light. The miracle of photography
based on the reaction of certain chemicals, such as silver chloride, to
When a focused image falls on the film in a camera, the light causes the
parts of the image to react chemically, which after further chemical
results in dark areas on the film, hence a negative image. To make a
photographic print, light is again used: more light gets through the
areas of the negative, causing the most chemical reaction in the print,
the darkest areas of the image.
The negative or print undergoes further chemical treatment to halt the
to light, so that the image is 'permanently' fixed. The compounds that
the image are subject to various chemical changes over time, that may
the image, or cause blotching or changes in color or texture. In severe
the image may be lost entirely. As with many chemical reactions, the
will speed up when the chemicals are exposed to energy in the form of
light. These compounds will also react with other chemicals they come in
with, such as air pollutants or water in the form of humidity. The
image rests on, often paper, also undergoes chemical change over time,
even disintegrate under adverse conditions.
If you have unlimited funds, the best storage method is to place each
an acid-free envelope made for archival storage. Then place the
envelopes in a
sturdy archival box, either of acid free cardboard or enameled metal.
boxed photos in a room that is safe from fire or flood, with a relative
of from 40% to 50%, and cool temperature, with little fluctuation in
As a practical matter, we are rarely able to create the perfect climate
controlled environment that would best preserve our photos. But there
simple and effective steps we can take to prolong the life of these
objects. Modern plastic, for all its faults, has some properties that
protect our photographs. Food storage bags made of polyurethane,
those that form an air-tight seal, will protect pictures from outside
contaminants. Humidity should be neither extremely high nor low, since
condition can have adverse effects. If it is possible to store your
photos in an
environment with about 40% or 50% relative humidity, that is ideal.
that before you seal them in plastic bags! If you live in a humid
look for a room where air-conditioning or heating has caused the
drop. Or if you live in an arid area, try using a humidifier to bring
humidity up to that 50% mark. Let your photos adjust to that moderate
for a few days, then seal them in the baggies.
Use a separate bag for each photo if possible--the photos themselves
chemicals that can be harmful, particularly if they have not been
treated to begin with. The one drawback to the plastic bag approach is
these chemicals will get trapped in with the photo, but if each photo is
separate bag, at least a particularly polluted one will not affect the
Place the bagged photos in sturdy boxes to prevent physical damage, and
them in as cool an environment as you have available. The temperature
as constant as possible, as the contraction and expansion of fluctuating
temperatures may cause pictures to crack or peal, since the substrate
expand at the same rate as the chemical layer containing the image.
Photos as Records
Your collection of photos provide you with information about the past
available from no other source. Each snapshot is a frozen moment, a tiny
of life captured on film. Each formal portrait captures a tiny bit of
subjects soul, just as the pre- civilized tribesman believed.
When it comes to genealogy, the formal portraits may be great to
family history, but it is the casual snapshot that gives us the most
information. It's a pity for us that Kodak's invention didn't come
the most surprising fact is, it is often not the subject of the
is of interest in those informal snapshots, but the background!
Look closely at your pictures. That somewhat fuzzy picture of a jumping
have a chicken-coop in the background ... (I didn't know grandpa raised
...) Is that a beer uncle Billy is drinking in the prohibition-era photo
Christmas party? And what presents are there under the tree? Pictures,
particularly the informal ones, tell a lot about the family's lifestyle.
Sometimes they provide us with facts, but more often they provide
feelings of the time and place.
Very few of us are lucky enough to have snapshot-type photos from before
turn of the century. Kodak brought photography to the masses in the late
but it took time for the idea to catch on. Some folks are lucky enough
to have a
photographer among their ancestors; there were tens of thousands of
professional photographers in the USA alone in the latter half of the
Not all of them took informal pictures around the old homestead, but
and those images are priceless when we have them in our family
are very near worthless when they appear without identification of any
the junk-dealer's jumble box.
So it behooves us to identify and caption our collections, however
process may seem. Never write anything on the face of a photograph! For
card mounted photos, if they are sturdy enough that you can write on
without damaging the image, put information on the back in pencil. The
pens, especially modern ball-point pens, just add more chemicals to that
volatiles from which we need to protect our photos. If it is not
write safely directly on the back of the photo, or if you have more
than will fit in the space available, consider making a photocopy.
photocopy machines do a credible job of reproducing photos, at least to
extent that you can identify which photocopy comes from which
you have an entire page on which to write your description. The photo is
to bright light for a moment when making photocopies, but the benefit of
a properly identified photo far outweigh the minuscule amount of
Consider using photographs to document and illustrate the information
discover in your genealogical research. When you find the places your
lived, try to get photographs of those places. Be creative. If you can
and take pictures yourself, let your friends and relatives know that you
interested in the area, and perhaps they will take some photos when in
area. Or contact someone who lives in the area, through the local
commerce, library, or via Internet. They may be willing to take some
a reasonable fee, or know someone else who will do so.
As mentioned earlier, photographic images have the wonderful property of
capable of being propagated, without any deleterious effect on the
Remind your relatives of this fact! Get copies of any old photos, (and a
selection of modern ones), that they may have. They don't have to give
originals, you can copy the images quite easily. Have a professional
for the best results, or learn to take copy photos yourself, using a
with a close-up lens.
The Evocative Image
If those family photos evoke responses in those of us who were born long
they were taken, imagine how much more powerful they can be to those who
them. Nothing is more likely to jog an elderly relative's memory than a
from his or her past.
Keep a good collection of copies of your best old photos, for use as
memory-joggers and gifts to relatives who help you further your
Discuss the subjects of the pictures, in person if possible or by phone
necessary. If you can, record your conversations--oral history adds yet
dimension to your documentation. Much of what we have said regarding
might also apply to sound recordings--make duplicates to help ensure
It is a simple rule that whenever a picture is duplicated, the copy can
as good as the original. 'Good' here means that the information, the
light and dark, can never be perfectly replicated, there is always some
detail in the copy. Sometimes the copy may look more pleasing to the
often has better contrast and may be printed better, but it will not
the information that is inherent in the original. The better the copy,
information is lost. Sometimes this loss is so slight as to be
Since most prints are made from negatives, it follows that the negative
have more detail--more gradations of tone from the lightest to the
parts--than any copy made from that negative. Thus, whenever possible,
should be preserved and used to make prints, since the results will be
than when a print is made from another print.
Modern technology presents us with a method of imaging that defies this
principal of loss with every copy. In digital imagery, the picture is
a series of numeric values, with each value representing some aspect of
spot in the picture. Since these digital images are usually made by
'digitizing'--a printed image, they can never be as good as that printed
that is they can never have as much information in them. But once
image is just a series of numbers, and those numbers can be copied by
without any further loss of data. The copies can be copied, and copies
copy copied again, all without loss, so long as the data is transmitted
without error. This is the future of images.
Digital images may also be transformed, manipulated, and combined in
ways that make them a versatile and convenient format for preserving
Storage can be in various computer formats, but the most stable and
form currently available is CD- ROM. The stored image can be viewed on a
computer terminal, or printed out. If the CD-ROM turns out to as stable
as it is currently believed to be, the images encoded on them today will
continue to be available, with absolutely no degradation, a hundred
now. I have seen hundred-year-old photographs that are in excellent
but they can not be as clear and sharp and detailed as they were when
produced (though the degradation may be so slight as to be
more have obviously faded with time. Such a fate will not befall images
digitally. And, if those digital images are propagated widely enough,
lost to fire or accident can be replaced with exact copies from another
There are now cameras available that produce digital images directly
source--there is no film or intermediate stage involved. To date, these
cameras fall far short of the resolution we expect from film, but as the
technology continues to develop we can expect them to improve, and
replace the older method. Scanners are available at very reasonable cost
will do a fairly decent job of copying photographs. They provide an
means of distributing copies of images to others in your family who have
computers, or if you have an inkjet printer, or laser printer, you can
black and white print-outs of images to family members. These fall far
the quality of photographically produced copies, but are much better
photocopies. Much less expensive to produce than photographs, they can
distributed and may serve to jog some memories, or create enough
your project to enlist some help.
I HOPE someone GETS the MESSAGE...lets take care of our HISTORY, and
pass it to our FUTURE !
From: Donna Mohney <dmohney(a)westol.com>
To: SWEDEN-L(a)rootsweb.com <SWEDEN-L(a)rootsweb.com>
Date: Sunday, February 28, 1999 8:42 AM
Subject: FAMILY PHOTOS
Hi all. I apologize ahead of time to those who will get more than one
of this but thought it was important enough for all. I just attended
funeral of my 78 year old aunt. She was the self-appointed guardian
family info and she guarded it well. I've been doing research for
20 years and she absolutely refused to let me have access to my
grandmother's photos, etc. Yesterday, my father, who inherited from
sister, gave me access to this material. I found my
certificate and the sermon read at his funeral, my grandmother's
certificate, wedding certificate, death certificate, obituaries and
letters, church membership records, a history written in 1932 that
the royal line of one of my families and tells me that my Rodgers
was the "tallest man in England in his day and had a huge
reports for my aunts and uncles (now deceased), I could go on and on.
what's important is this: I now have photos- hundreds of them
gggrandmother, Margaret McConahy and gggrandfather, George Van Eman
down to my own son. So what's wrong? Many of then aren't
them were hanging in a damp basement, some are falling apart, some
the album, etc . I have a photo of three teenagers that is just
"Morrow". Now I think it is my grgrandmother and her siblings but ?
Sadly the older family members are mostly gone and I don't know if they
will ever be identified.
So, I am begging all of you- share the photos, etc. now, sit down with
family members and mark them - get your own info in order so that 100
from now, our descendants aren't lamenting the loss of family
can bet that within the next few weeks, all of my photos will be
and copies of these photos made and shared with my cousins.
Thanks for listening and I hope this saves at least one photo.
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