It all started with this photograph.
I knew who the older woman was. That’s Clara Holt Haley, my great-great grandmother, I had no idea who the man and the little boy were. I was new to genealogy and didn’t know how to get the photograph identified, so I posted it on my blog. [That was way back when Are You My Cousin? was only a family blog. ]
Five months later, I received an anonymous comment from a reader sharing that the woman was his grandmother. The genealogy happy dance began….and I posted another family photograph with my great-great grandmother from my collection. At this point, the reader identified himself. It turns out he was my grandmother’s first cousin, and we began sharing of the family history. I was able to meet the rest of the family and gather oral history from family members who are no longer with us.
As a result, my dad and I attended a Haley family reunion in southern Virginia. It was his first Haley reunion in 60 years.
All because I got a old family photo out of a box (of hundreds of photographs) and shared it on a family blog.
How about you? What family experiences and connections could be hiding in a box of photographs?
Do you have family photographs stuffed in boxes? In photo albums? Do you know who they are? Are the photographs deteriorating? Are you missing out on potential family connections?
Preserving Old Family Photos Leads To Increased Family Connections
Many family historians inherit or collect of old family photographs. It can be thrilling, but when most were not labeled, we miss out on connecting with family both past and present. We miss out on family stories. We miss out on connections to the past.
One of the things I love about my collection of old family photographs is they serve as such great conversation starters! When I am meeting new-to-me cousins or collecting oral history, getting started can be uncomfortable. Sharing a photograph and asking about the story behind one is a great way to break the ice or spark a long forgotten memory.
Tip: When possible, I always provide copies of family photographs to the relatives I interview.
As genealogy researchers and family historians, preserving our photographs is crucial. Preserving the physical photograph itself is important as older photographs are fragile and require special storage and handling.
However, getting our photos digitized and shared is just as important. Not only are we able to keep the image for future generations, the digitized photos can be shared easily shared. If you are like me, you have hundreds of photographs. Just seeing all the boxes has me thinking “Maybe someday…”.
Spring of 2020 is here. Or shall I say “Someday is here.” In light of current events and our stay at home world, scanning my old family photographs makes for a good project. I started this project last week, and am making excellent progress! There is still more to do, so keep reading. I’ll show you how I get my scanning project done with minimal fuss.
So, let’s do this together.
My Favorite Tool For Scanning Family Photos
The best tool/scanner/app for scanning your old family photos is simply one you will use. You might prefer a flatbed scanner (never use an automatic feeder for you older photos) or taking digital photographs of your photos. If that works for you, that’s perfectly fine.
I prefer something quicker and that requires less steps to share those photographs. Fewer steps means I actually get it done! I use the Photomyne app.
Quite simply, it’s quick and super easy. And did I say FAST?! I scanned 10 photos yesterday and shared them with family by email in under 5 minutes.
Photomyne App is a scanning app you download to your phone (android or iOS) or tablet. Since my phone is with me 24/7 ( Don’t judge ?), my “scanner” is, too.
- Auto-cropping of images
- The ability to scan multiple images at the same time. This is perfect for scanning photographs in a photo album.
- Saves photos into albums – I like being able to add descriptive titles and information about a photo grouping. That’s my “sneaky” way of sharing family history with the non-genealogists in the family.
- A dedicated web platform for storing and sharing the photos. (Not included in the free Basic option)
Photomyne app’s basic free features are quite powerful on their own, but your number of scans is limited and it does not include the dedicated web platform or cloud storage . Still, it’s a good way to try the app out! Upgrading to a paid premium account opens up all of Photomyne’s features including unlimited scanning. With the number of photos I scan, it’s a must. Plus, with a premium account, I get access to the “Free Up Storage Space on This Device” option. Again, with large numbers of photographs to scan, this is a needed feature.
Ready to get started scanning those photos? Here are a few tips to keep you on track:
- Work in small batches. Try setting a goal for each day for the number of photos you get scanned.
- I also work in family groups. I find that easier, and you may, too.
- Remember you do not need to scan/digitize every photo in your collection. My ancestors were incredibly bad photographers and a number of photos are so out of focused or just obviously bad mistakes, there is no reason to scan them or keep them (gasp!).
- Label the photo files as you go. Labeling now saves having to create yet another project for your to-do list. Use the same naming format for all of your photos to streamline the process.
How To Digitize Family Photos Using the Photomyne App
First, download and open the Photomyne app (Android or iOS). The download and the basic features are free to use.
Tap “New Album”
Hold phone over your photograph, and press the button for 3 seconds.
The buttons at the bottom of the app allow you to share your photo, add more photos to the album and/or manage the photos. Go into your album and add identification of individuals, add a date and location, etc to the album and the photos.
Now share those photographs! Isn’t that a big part of why you scanned them? For those unidentified ancestors in the photographs, you want to get as many eyes on them as possible to try and find out who they are. The app makes it easy to share via email or any of your social media platforms.
Another Scanning Option for You
Do you have old negatives or slides in your family photo collection? I do not, but a friend recently asked me about hers. I didn’t have an answer at the time on how to re-capture those into photographs.
Take the Scanner With You
Going to a family reunion this summer? Ask you family members to bring their old family photos and offer to scan them on the spot! Regardless of how you prefer to scan photos, Photomyne is perfect in this setting.
You can digitize and preserve the photographs AND share them immediately. You – the genealogy researcher – now have new ancestral photos and family history stories to use in your genealogy research.
Never underestimate the power of a photograph and the story behind it.
Preserve the photo.
Preserve the stories.
Preserve the family history.