Re: Selecting, scanning, identifying and desicarding old paper photographs #general

Ava (Sherlock) Cohn

I understand that you have a lot of photographs but PLEASE do not discard any of them. I know from personal experience the pain of knowing that someone has thrown away images of my family and that there are people in my tree that I will never know what they looked like. It's a tragedy. There is no substitute for an original photograph and just because you don't see any value in keeping them now because you don't know who is in the photographs, how do you know that a future genealogist in your family might someday be curious about the photographs? Many people do not become interested in their family origins until they are much older. Please do scan the photographs but know that the technology we have now may not be available in the future. That's another good reason to keep the originals. As for scanning, use the highest resolution you can but know that the higher the resolution, the larger the file. Generally I work with scans that are 300dpi in jpg format. That is only because I have so many photographs sent to me that I don't have enough storage space.  But for your purposes you may want to go with 600 or 1200 or even 2400 dpi. As for hoping to "donate" the photographs to museums etc. please understand that these organizations have limited staff and most do not have the time to catalog your photographs. Unless the photographs are of historical interest, the chances are that an institution may not want your pictures. Most of our photographs have personal interest to us but may be not be of long-term historical interest to a greater Jewish community. There are always sellers on eBay and other places who would seek to profit from your photographs and the collection will get split up, thus losing the provenance and the connections between the individuals in the photographs. All context will be lost. My advice would be to obtain acid-free materials to store the originals once you have made scans of all of them. Write down what you know about each photograph, who is in it etc. and keep that information with the originals. Keep the scans on a hard drive and, as has been said already, with a backup. Ava (Sherlock) Cohn

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