Sunday, February 04, 2007

Scanning history (and ignoring the Super Bowl)

As part of an ongoing project, this weekend I've been scanning photos almost non-stop--five decades' worth since yesterday morning. I just finished the '90s.

What a wonderful trip down memory lane. These particular decades included the ones in which my children and grandchildren were born. As I arranged their pictures in groups on the scanner screen, I watched them grow up all over again.

I spent some time today with beloved family members who have since passed on and with others who live so far across the country I may never see them again. Every familiar face brought me joy.

I visited houses where we used to live, rooms where we shared happy times and a couple of hard ones, furniture that seemed like a good idea at the time, and a few items that have traveled with me across the miles and the years.

I sat on the Missouri grass with Wiggles, the family dog of my childhood, and on a Louisiana hearth with our '80s dog, Radar. I lingered over puppy pictures of Butch and Kadi and was reminded once again how much love they've brought into my life.

I watched fashions and hairstyles change. Automobile shapes went from boxy to aerodynamic, and bare tree branches turned green, then lost their leaves again. The photos themselves changed, too, from sepia to black and white to color, with a wide variation in quality depending on the camera and film that were used.

One more weekend should be enough to finish the scanning, then I'll begin cropping the scanned groups into individual photos, labeling each one as I go. When that's done, I'll save everything to DVDs and distribute enough copies to ensure that someone, somewhere, will have a backup copy if something should happen to the originals.

It's a laborious process, but it's a labor of love.


  1. Wow Velvet, what a gift for your family. I'm sure it is appreciated.

    I too am ignoring the Stuper Bowl. ( I was the girl who went to football games to see what others were wearing!) I've spent the day in the shop building a huge moss project for work. My trips to the hardware stores today were blissful. I didn't get cast aside for one male customer.

  2. This is a great service to all your family. I would like to do this...the job is such a huge one
    and will take such energy and staywithitness. I don't think I am up to it. Cheers to you. Sis 3

  3. I started doing that last year with my family's photos, but had to stop when my scanner burned out. I just got a new one, so I have to pick up where I left off, thanks for giving me a reminder! It's a lot of fun seeing us all when we were kids again. Every one should do it.

  4. Good for you! I've been working on my family genealogy for about five years now, and although that quest has unearthed many photos from many places (even from some distant relatives I never knew existed), I now have even more stuff to save!

    I have done some scanning, but lately I've turned to my digital camera to copy photographs. I just place the photo to be copied in good light, focus carefully, and click. Flash doesn't usually work as well as good daylight (sometimes you'll get reflections). This also works fine for old documents.

    Who knows what great-grandchild may look at the treasures you've preserved and want to know more about who saved them.

    You have inspired me to get back to the project!

  5. Creekhiker, can you tell us more about the "huge moss project"? I'm definitely intrigued.

    Sister 3, this is the actually the second time I've attempted this project. I had a good start on it a couple of years ago and my hard drive crashed before I backed up the photos. It took a while before I had the heart to start over. At least I'm a little better organized this time around.

    Janet, I love old photos--the older, the better. I used to spread them out at least every couple of weeks and look at all of them. It's so much easier--and not as damaging to the photos--to look at them on the computer screen once they've been scanned.
    I'm enjoying them this way more than ever.

    Wizened Wizard, it's nice to see you here. I'm an amateur genealogist, too, with 18 years (and a stack of research papers three feet high) behind me. The old photos are a great way of making the ancestors seem like real people instead of just names.

    Your suggestion of using a digital camera instead of a scanner has just solved a problem for me. I have an old letter that was written in 1858 on paper that's too long to fit on the scanner. Problem solved, thank you very much.

    Oh, and the genealogist part of you might find this poem amusing.

  6. And don't forget to share with us some more of those photos, I love it when you do.

  7. Velvet, do you realize that you missed your blogiversary?

  8. I slept through the super bowl, didn't see one game play, not one.

    Thank you for taking us on the trip with you. I can't wait to see some of the pictures, especially the puppy pics. Are you a cat person at all?

    hey Carmon I bet your word verification is easier than mine. Who could come up with cxzegfov? Sometimes it looks like Arabic. Even if I typed it correctly blogger would say I didn't and make me do it again. LOL

  9. Ah, Velvet...this is one project I want to do! As you were describing the years that have passed in your life, some of the photos I have flashed through my mind. We have some similar photos!

    I think it is time for me to revisit the past, by doing the very same thing! And you are right, it is indeed a labor of love!

  10. Robbin, will do. I'll feed 'em to you a few at a time.

    Janet, I remembered the blogiversary (cool word!) but I'd already thrown my whole stash of confetti into the air nine days earlier for my 300th post. It seemed a little too needy to beg for congratulations again so soon.

    Austin, I've met cats that I liked, but I've never had a cat as a pet. I'm such a diehard dog person it's just never occurred to me to get a cat. Maybe I'm missing an experience I need to explore.

    Marion, the thing I like most about this project is looking at the photos enlarged on the computer screen. There are so many details in them that go unnoticed in the small snapshot versions. I think you'll have a good time with this project if you decide to do it.

  11. Just that first c.d. takes time, lots of time. Then all the copies will be done in a flash and everyone will be sooooooo delighted to have the memories.

    I say all that to encourage myself to scan all the family photos that I've been given to store/keep/treasure.

  12. Velvet, it sounds like you had a wonderful trip down memory lane. My sister and I did an album for my brother's birthday - and really enjoyed 'remembering'. I don't do the whole picture thing often enough.

  13. Velvet, we turned off the Superbowl when we realized that even the commercials weren't worth watching!

    This is a wonderful project and you have encouraged me to try. We don't have much in the way of genealogy, but we do have some wonderful old photos. We have a hallway upstairs that is just photos of ancestors - weddings, family portraits and some great ones of great-great-great grandparents in native dress, practically just off the boat from Europe! We don't know much about them, though.

    Thanks for putting something fun on my "to do" list (I think! LOL)


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