It’s only 2 days until the first annual Save Your Photos Day events take place worldwide on Saturday, September 27!
Last year, as a founding member of the local Memory Preservation Coalition, I helped to spearhead the volunteer recovery efforts to assist Colorado flood victims in recovering their water-logged and muddy photos, albums and videos. In all, over 80 volunteers helped to restore 20,000+ photos, videos and treasured memorabilia at 4 difference “rescue centers.”
In the last year, Cathi Nelson, founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) had a vision to establish a worldwide annual event dedicated to preserving photos and other family memorabilia. The Memory Preservation Coalition members shared our expertise, along with other similar groups that had responded to disasters such as the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes, and the Save Your Photos Alliance became a reality.
There are over 60 events happening in the United States, with 2 being hosted in Colorado in Lone Tree and Boulder. I’m proud to serve as one of the organizers of the local Colorado events, and will be presenting several educational topics at the Lone Tree location (Memories to Digital, 8481 S. Yosemite in the Home Depot shopping center). Click the map to find other locations.
At the Colorado locations, there will be a series of 7 short educational presentations that repeat in the morning and afternoon. While the presentations are ongoing, there will also be free photos scanning of up to 25 loose prints sized 8.5 x 11 or smaller (fragile or special handling items may be scanned in lesser quantity if others are waiting).
Why participate in a free Save Your Photos Day event? Watch this short video clip to find out.
The original press release was posted here. Help spread the word…and hope to see you at the event!
Learn How to Protect Photos Before a Disaster Strikes One Year after the 2013 Flood, Colorado Save Your Photo Alliance Members Host Save Your Photos Day – Saturday, September 27th
For immediate release August 19, 2014
Now that it is summer and the sun is shining, most people are not thinking about planning for the next disaster in Colorado. However, almost a year after the 1,000-Year Flood, it is a great time to consider how you can protect one of your most treasured assets: your photos, photo albums and other memorabilia.
In honor of the one-year anniversary of the 2013 Colorado flood, the same organizations that came together to rescue more than 20,000 flood-damaged photos and over 240 videos & films, are now co-sponsoring Save Your Photos Day. We’re planning to help hundreds of thousands of people save their photos in one day! This international event is organized by the Save Your Photo Alliance, and will promote Save Your Photos Day events happening all over the world. Events will include presentations and hands-on workshops on collecting, organizing, and safeguarding photos, documents, videos, and other memorabilia for current enjoyment, as well as for generations that follow. Presentations will also provide information on how to prepare for, and hopefully prevent, an unexpected loss from large and small accidents, fire, wind, and water.
Colorado members of the Save Your Photos Alliance will be hosting two events on Saturday, September 27th, one in Boulder and one in Lone Tree. The events will include free, educational workshops in morning and afternoon sessions shown below. FREE photo scanning (up to 25 loose prints per participant) is being offered on-site, 10:00 to 4:00 at both locations.
Each of the host organizations – Couragent, maker of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, Memories to Digital, DigiDeena Consulting and Picture This Organized – has extensive experience working with photos. Additionally, Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Couragent, Memories to Digital owner Gwen Scherer, and Deena Coutant of DigiDeena Consulting have experience with rescuing photos and other media in a disaster situation. The three business leaders worked together to organize a 6 location, 80+ volunteer photo rescue effort during the 2013 Colorado flood. Nuttall was also instrumental in helping rescue photos damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“The most important thing is to get the word out so people can take action to prepare their memories today before a disaster strikes,” says Gwen Scherer. “Many of these priceless items can be preserved with a little work in advance, and we’re here to help.” Deena Coutant adds, “The planning and organizing that goes into these preservation activities actually allows people to enjoy their photos and other memorabilia in the process of preparing the preservation plan—it’s a win-win.”
The two host locations of the Denver-area Save Your Photos Day events are:
Memories to Digital – Boulder: 2525 Arapahoe Ave in the Village Shopping Center near McGuckin Hardware
Memories to Digital – Lone Tree: 8481 S. Yosemite in the Home Depot shopping center
Both locations will offer the same, free presentations and workshops, with both morning and afternoon sessions:
10:30a and 1:30p Why Save Your Photos? (Save Your Photos Day intro)
10:45a and 1:45p Organizing Photos for Digitization
11:00a and 2:00p Storing & Preserving Photos
11:15a and 2:15p Scanning Options and Best Practices
11:30a and 2:30p Backing-Up and Cloud Storage Options
11:45a and 2:45p Emergency Readiness
12:00p and 3:00p Organizing Digital Images
FREE Scanning Offer:
FREE scanning of up to 25 loose prints per participant will be offered on-site at both locations on a first-come, first-served basis.
About the Save Your Photos Alliance
The Save Your Photos Alliance’s goal is to prevent the unforeseen loss of valued family photo treasures by educating people on what to do BEFORE a disaster strikes. The Save Your Photos Alliance is committed to being the world’s premier organization for the SAFEGUARDING, RECOVERING, RESTORING, and REUNITING of photos and treasured memorabilia before and after disasters occur. It strives to accomplish this through a unique blending of individual professional service providers, associations, government and not-for-profit organizations whose common pursuit is to educate, reach out and serve. http://www.saveyourphotos.org/
About Couragent and the Flip-Pal mobile scanner
Couragent is a Colorado corporation based in Fort Collins, and maker of The Flip-Pal mobile scanner. The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is the world’s original color flatbed scanner for photos, cherished memorabilia, and documents that does not require a computer to operate. The patented flip-and-scan technology allows scanning photos in place without removing them from an album or frame. The included EasyStitch software quickly and automatically reassembles multiple scans into their larger original. For more information, visit www.flip-pal.com/save-your-photos-day.
About Memories to Digital
Memories to Digital is a local, Colorado company dedicated to helping people enjoy, share and preserve their photo, video, film and audio memories in a digital format. Started in 2003, Memories to Digital has stores in Boulder and Lone Tree with a full-range of services to digitize photo, film, video & audio media or create custom-edited productions from the digital memories. Visit www.mtdigital.com or find Memories to Digital on Facebook.
About DigiDeena Consulting
Deena Coutant is a professional genealogist who uses modern technology to facilitate successful search, storage and sharing strategies for family historians in the digital age. Her company, DigiDeena Consulting, educates the community through group training sessions and individual coaching, conducts client research and review, and also offers services related to photo organization and digitization. www.digideena.com
About Picture This Organized
Picture This Organized is a Denver Metro based business uniquely qualified to help families manage their photo collections. Photos, memorabilia and home media are viewed as a cherished glimpse into each family’s history. Picture This Organized offers premium services for organizing & digitizing print and digital media, backup and photo sharing solutions, and custom designed photo books and slideshows. Owner and founder, Julie Kessler, is a certified member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers and a board member of the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. For more information, visit www.picturethisorganized.com or look for us on Facebook.
The Save Your Photos Alliance Member contacts for these events are:
Today is Mother’s Day, and so we honor our moms. We might send a card, have some flowers delivered, or even call our mothers if we are blessed to still have them. This is how we show appreciation for our mothers today, but how do we honor all the mothers in our family tree who came before our own mother?
Undated copy of photo, labeled only as “Mary,” in author’s collection
For many genealogists, researching females can be difficult.
To start with, we may not even know our ancestral mothers’ names. They may have been obscured by history and tradition, known only as the “Mrs.” of their husbands. Or worse, they may be completely silent in the records, with no mention at all. Yet, we know they did exist–barring any modern reproductive scientific miracles, we simply would not be here today without our ancestral mothers.
How can we honor the memory of those mothers that may be so difficult to find? The most obvious, simplest (but not easiest) thing we can do is give them back their names for posterity’s sake.
Here are several research tips to help locate females in historical records.
Search for Vital Records or their substitutes
Vital records are typically referred to as “BMDs,” short for birth, marriage, and death. Whether viewing modern civil records or historical church records, these types of records will often list the full maiden name of the woman.
Marriage documents provide the best chance to locate the maiden name. Look for the marriage application, license, or a consent to marry if the female was under legal age to marry.
Birth documents are usually accurate with regard to the mother’s information, because she was most likely the informant. Look for birth certificates or registers, adoption decrees, or parish baptism or christening records.
Death records will provide information about females, but the records may not be as accurate, depending upon who the informant was (husband, sibling, child, grandchild, etc.). Look for death certificates or registers, funeral home or mortuary records, cemetery records (such as who owned the plot), and obituaries.
Family Bibles are a great source of birth, marriage and death information if they can be located. Often kept before the statewide requirements to record vital records, a family Bible may provide an adequate substitute.
Wedding portrait of Mary Elizabeth Bell, great-grandmother of the author, dated 5 Nov 1891, who married John William Freeman in Hope, Lavaca, Texas, in author’s collection
Scour census records for all the clues they contain
Although census records may not directly answer our research questions, they often provide indirect evidence that can be used as clues to locate other original records. Consider that beginning with the 1880 census, relationships to head-of-household were provided; thus, a mother-in-law or father-in-law listed in the wife’s household would be her parents. Don’t overlook the following questions that were asked on various census years, which will point to other records such as marriages or births:
Was the person married within the census year? (1850-1890)
What was the person’s marital status? (1880-1940)
How many years has the person been married? (1900-1910)
What was the age at the person’s first marriage? (1930)
What was the parents’ place of birth? (1880-1940)
Other record types abound that mention women
Many other record types will name women in their proper familial context as daughters, wives, mothers or widows. These records may not be as easy to locate or may cost a fee to obtain, but will be helpful in locating the elusive female.
Wills, probate or guardianship records – will mention the wife and may provide for the widow’s minor children
Land records – often mention the wife or widow, especially if she was entitled to a dower right in the property
Pension files – a widow would often apply for a military pension based upon her husband’s Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Civil War service
Tax lists – a widow may show up on a tax list after her husband has died, being taxed on the same amount or value of property
Lineage or hereditary society applications – these documents have to connect each generation back to the target ancestor, and each fact on the application should be supported by named sources
County or local histories – these books became popular in the late 1800s and usually contain biographies that were submitted by a family member, although they rarely name their sources
Newspaper articles – in earlier times newspapers would print just about anything, so look for mentions of females in the social or gossip sections, as well as announcements for births, marriages or deaths
Manuscripts – libraries and archives often have unpublished collections of family papers that can be a goldmine for researchers, and may also have vertical files organized by surname
Photographs – family photos may contain notations that serve as clues about the females they depict, and websites such as Flickr, Facebook or eBay may host photos posted by others who are distant family members or unrelated resellers
Lucille Freeman, about age 8 circa 1918, paternal grandmother of author, in author’s collection
While the resources described above may not always provide the answers we seek about our ancestral mothers, they are great places to begin looking. Websites such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org or HeritageQuest (accessible via participating libraries) can be used to locate many of these records. But for some records that are not available online, a road trip to a distant county courthouse or archive might be necessary to gain access to these records.
In conclusion, today’s challenge is to add at least one more female, or ancestral mother, to your family tree. And when you do, how will you honor and celebrate her discovery?
As I prepare for a cross-country road trip that will result in my bringing home a carload of family photos and memorabilia, I am reflecting on the amount of stuff that can be accumulated in a lifetime. One category of “stuff” is photos.
On the surface, dealing with an abundance of photos may seem seductively simple, but if one ponders for more than a fleeting moment, it will become apparent that dealing with a collection of family photos can be complex.
Consider that there can be many attributes of the photos we may inherit. For example, we may have a few extremely sentimental or one-of-a-kind photos, or possibly many duplicate photos of the same event. Our photos may run the gamut of completely labeled and identified to a complete mystery. We may have some photos that offer no sentimental attachment because they depict scenery or strangers.
So, what do we do with all these photos?
Today I am going to focus on the photos that we have determined we wish to part with. Maybe we cannot physically store all of them or maybe they imbue little value to us personally. Perhaps we have already digitized these photos so that—just in case, by stroke of luck—we are able to later identify them or place them into their proper historical context. The burning question becomes, “What do I do with the physical originals?”
There are several viable options that may vary based upon how much information is known about the subject matter and provenance of the photos, and how much time you are willing to spend readying the photos for transfer. Any of these options are better than discarding the original heritage photographs.
First, ask yourself these questions and consider the implications of your answers:
Would someone else enjoy or benefit from having these photos, either due to sentimental or historical value?
Am I able to facilitate transfer to the interested individuals or organizations?
How much time or expense am I willing to put into organizing or packaging the photos to be transferred?
Next, consider the attributes of your photo collection. How much information is known about the photos may directly impact how valuable they may be perceived by organizations accepting donations.
Are the identities known for all or some of the people in the photos?
Is a photographer’s stamp present that is personally identifiable to a specific town or studio?
If the identities are unknown, can the collection be tied to a particular city or location?
Can the likely provenance of the photos be identified if the collection was handed down from a particular family or ancestor?
Do the photos depict relics, costumes, or occupations of yesteryear that would be interesting representations of an era, even if identities and locations are unknown?
If the people or places of the photos can’t be identified, does the photo depict something unique that would create nostalgic value?
Are the photos in generally good condition, or are there problems or special handling issues like mildew or bugs?
Would it be more important for the photos to be maintained in a private collection, or would making the photos available to others by donating them to a public repository serve the greater good?
Last, consider the most likely individuals or organizations that may be interested in receiving the photos, and contact them first. It is possible that some photos will be of more interest to one particular organization, but others may better fit with a different organization, so several contacts may need to be made.
Prior to making the contact, review any specific policies online that discuss the criteria for accepting a donation. A guide titled Donating Your Personal or Family Records to a Repository prepared by the Society of American Archivists provides a good general overview of the donation process and what types of records may have historical value. A sample of a specific guide prepared by the New York State Library in Albany outlines that repository’s donor guide, titled Stuff in a Box.
The 10 options presented below suggest various places that may rehome your photo collection. In general, they work from those providing the broadest access down to the narrowest access, and several options suggest alternate uses for the photos that are not deemed within the realm of historic preservation.
Large repositories such as a state library or archive, university library, or public or private research library with extensive manuscript collections. Large repositories may be accessed by many researchers who conduct local or social history studies. Most archives, libraries, and museums have a collection development policy that stipulates what they wish to collect. If your proposed donation of photos does not fall within the scope of what the repository collects, ask for a referral to other repositories that might be interested in your collection. To find lists of these organizations, search Wikipedia with terms such as, “list of archives in the United States” or “list of universities in Colorado.”
State or local genealogical or historical societies or museums. Small local organizations may be less stringent and more interested in accepting the photo collection since they are often volunteer-run and have limited budgets to acquire new original materials. Sometimes these collections are co-located at a small local public library. To find these organizations, Google the town or county name plus type of organization, such as “historical society,” look up a genealogical society on the Federation of Genealogical Society’s directory, or use Wikipedia to query for “list of museums in Texas.”
Specific organizations that maintain records such as churches, fraternal organizations, lineage societies, or businesses. These organizations may have a historian that maintains a private archive of materials related to the happenings of its members, especially if the donated materials depict member activities. If the original owner of the photo collection belonged to one of these organizations, they may be interested in the materials. Some of these organizations have a national governing body that may be able to direct you to a local branch or chapter. Google the type of organization plus the state name to begin the search.
Online Social Archives. Consider an online community such as Creating Your Community, which is sponsored by Denver Public Library to connect and preserve Colorado history. This and other similar communities afford opportunities for individuals to contribute micro-history by uploading themed collections of photos. The site states, “While archives generally work behind the scenes organizing and preserving historical documents, records, and photographs for future generations, the hippest archives are seeking to embrace participatory culture to create social archives which include anyone with an interest in helping to collect and preserve history.”
Local photographer or amateur historian. If there is no local repository that can house your photo collection, a local photographer or history enthusiast may privately collect photos and memorabilia. Over time as these collections build, they are often later transferred to a large repository one the collection has been expanded, organized and annotated by the hobbyist. For small towns, contact the local newspaper or town hall to inquire about who these individuals might be.
Family associations, genealogists or distant cousins. Usually every family has at least one genealogist or family historian lurking in the shadows, waiting to gather every scrap of family memorabilia like a giant vacuum cleaner. If this person can be identified, he or she would probably be overjoyed to receive a bundle of heritage photos that originated within a branch of the family. Some families also have a family association that may be organized around a particular surname or may host an annual reunion. These groups often have websites or mailing lists and may be able to post photo collections online. To locate these individuals or associations, ask older family members for clues, as they may have corresponded with these people or attended reunions in the past.
Dead Fred.Dead Fred is a type of lost-and-found website where photos can be posted for the benefit of others, including both identified and unidentified (aka “mystery”) photos. There are over 110,000 photos on the site representing over 18,000 surnames, and so far over 2,400 photo reunions have been documented. The site accepts uploads of photos taken prior to 1965 where all subjects are deceased, and the site will also accept mailed donations (see FAQs) of photos that the volunteer archivists will scan and place online.
Antiques dealer, estate auctioneer or eBay. If no repository or individual is interested in the photos, a local antiques dealer may be interested in the collection. An estate auctioneer may also have contacts with individuals who have purchased heritage photos in the past. An online auction site such as eBay could be used to sell individual photos or the entire lot of photos to the highest bidder.
School art, history or photography teacher. If you have not been able to find a good home for the photos and still cannot bear to throw them away, consider donating them to be used for educational or art purposes. A history professor at a local community college may be interested in using real photos for hands-on examples with his students, or a high school photography teacher may also appreciate receiving a limited collection. A local artist might incorporate the photos into a variety of vintage art projects. It is possible that most or all of the photos would be destroyed after their usage.
Landfill. As a last resort, the unwanted photos could be trashed. This may be the only realistic option if the photo collection is non-specific, unidentified, poor quality, or is damaged beyond conservation. Before you choose this option, think twice, because there’s no turning back! You might consider setting the photos aside for a period of time before making the final disposition to allow time for other viable alternative options to surface.
In summary, caring for a photo collection is a big responsibility. Sometimes our best option may be to donate a portion of the collection to an organization or individual who can better care for the collection than ourselves. This decision is made easier when we are not personally attached to the subject photos; however, a decision to dispose of these photos should not be taken lightly. It’s quite possible that a new home for the photo collection can be located so that they may be enjoyed by others, now and in the future.