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


Alberto Guido Chester
 

Dear Genners
This quarantine time has kept me busy doing some order at home.
I do not think the next generation will pay much attention to old paper family photographs, specially if they dont know the persons in them.
I have (as most of us) several shoe boxes with pictures and this special time seems adequate for a bit of thinking on them
 
My basic idea is to 1. select those relevant for any reason 2. scan those selected 3. create folder with adequate titles 4. keep only very special ones 5. discard the rest.
 
I imagine ther will be a whirlwind of opinions and I thank for them in advance.
 
Besides general suggestions, I pose a couple of specific questions:
1. do I scan in jpg ? How many dpi  considering they are for keeps not for inmediate viewing and probably technology will get better soon and enhance poor pictures.
2. is there any program to order these scans in files and give them a name (other than the simple Windows commands) ?
3. are there institutions that would receive the originall pictures as a donation ? I live in Argentina, where I can not think of any, but maybe you can give me a hint.
 
Thanks all and STAY AT HOME.

Alberto Guido Chester
Buenos Aires, Argentina
 
 


Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>
 

You want us to discard family photos, other than 'a few'!! What an awful thought. I asked my aunt for my grandmother's photos, and she said several times that she would have to look through the basement for them. Then she did; she cleaned out her basement and threw them away (so much for my favorite aunt).
 
Luckily, somebody found them and sold them to somebody who advertised them in the Genealogical Helper with the names on the backs, including my brother's name. My uncle got to them first, and sent them to the aunt, who said she never saw them. There was a picture of my ggrandmother as a youngish woman, probably from about 1868, when my ggrandfather left for the US, colorized pictures of my 2nd ggrandparents, who never left Russia (he died in 1881). And lots more.
 
My aunt obviously didn't think them important. What do you think your children would want to see?  Either scan them all or better, keep them all.
 
Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ


boris
 

There are many approaches, and twice as many opinions (we are all smart, right?) to handling personal archives. As I see it, NOTHING must be discarded. After all, “only very special ones” is a matter of opinion. It may seem valid today, and not valid tomorrow when it’s too late to run to the trash bin.

 

Scanning is a logical way to preserve and share the information. However, a system must be in place - before firing the first shot, so to speak - to identify and be able to retrieve this information later. Moreover, digitized copies are only good as long as the electricity flows and the hard drive is good. They do go bad. I keep three copies of the drives: a main, “working” drive, a backup, updated nightly, and an alternate backup drive kept in a bank vault.

 

Time permitting, I will write more later if there is interest.

 

The question of donating originals is also not a simple one. All Jewish (and non-Jewish) archives, museums, libraries, and alike are doing wonderful and important work of preserving our heritage. One must also remember that they are bureaucracies first of all - with their own procedures, rules, regulations, and a layer of lawyers. Once something is donated to them, it becomes their property forever or until the end of the world, whichever comes first. They are free to use your documents and photos in any way they see fit without asking your permission.

 

The most important thing is to start organizing one’s personal archives now, if we have not started it already.

 

Boris Feldblyum

 

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_______________________________________
Boris Feldblyum
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tom
 

here are just a few thoughts:
 
1. jpg is the most common format now, so use it.  it's the most likely "retro" format that future software will be able to read, just because it's so widely used now.  and scan at the highest physical dpi that your scanner has - the higher resolutions are interpolated and can create false details.  don't expect software to enhance information that isn't there, so store and preserve originals wherever possible.
2. you get the greatest flexibility, and the most likelihood that someone in the future will be able to read the files, from using just the windows (or mac) file structure, because it's the most basic.  you can group them by time, place or surname, and also add text files with the names of the people for group pictures.  it's a very basic form of organization, but it works.
3. as far as i know, both yad vashem and the us holocaust memorial museum want photographs.  and the beit hatefutzot museum in israel might also want them.  or your local community in argentina, if they have their own archives.  and all archivists want originals, not scans.                   
 
 
....... tom klein, toronto
 
 

At 8:00 -0700 1/4/20, main@... wrote:
 
Dear Genners
This quarantine time has kept me busy doing some order at home.
I do not think the next generation will pay much attention to old paper family photographs, specially if they dont know the persons in them.
I have (as most of us) several shoe boxes with pictures and this special time seems adequate for a bit of thinking on them
 
My basic idea is to 1. select those relevant for any reason 2. scan those selected 3. create folder with adequate titles 4. keep only very special ones 5. discard the rest.
 
I imagine ther will be a whirlwind of opinions and I thank for them in advance.
 
Besides general suggestions, I pose a couple of specific questions:
1. do I scan in jpg ? How many dpi  considering they are for keeps not for inmediate viewing and probably technology will get better soon and enhance poor pictures.
2. is there any program to order these scans in files and give them a name (other than the simple Windows commands) ?
3. are there institutions that would receive the originall pictures as a donation ? I live in Argentina, where I can not think of any, but maybe you can give me a hint.
 
Thanks all and STAY AT HOME.
Alberto Guido Chester
Buenos Aires, Argentina
 
 


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


Barbara Ellman
 

My grandmother had two beautiful photo albums.  They were leather bound and had many photos of people I did not know.  I remember several photos of men in military uniforms.  When my grandmother died, my mother took the volumes apart and discarded the photos of those she did not know.   When I started researching the family, at my mother's behest, I asked about the photos.  I never let her off for having discarded those valuable family memories.
 
So first, I suggest that no images should be discarded without having digitized them.
 
I suggest scanning as a jpg at 600 dpi.  You want to get the most detail which is often difficult with older photos, so the higher dpi. 300 dpi is often sufficient.
 
To organize the photos, Google photos has lots of options including facial recognition, keywords and tags.  Free storage online.
 
I would contact the Center for Jewish History in New York City about donating the images.  I've referred others to this institution and all donations were received.
 
Stay safe, everyone!

 
--
Barbara Ellman
Secaucus, NJ USA

--
Barbara Ellman
Secaucus NJ USA
HASSMAN, SONENTHAL, DAUERMAN, LUCHS - Drohobycz, Ukraine
HIRSCHHORN, GOLDSTEIN, BUCHWALD - Dolyna, Ukraine
ELLMAN, COIRA, MAIDMAN - Minkovtsy, Ukraine
KAGLE, FASS - Ulanow, Poland


Shelley Corwin
 

As for how to scan: while I agree with scanning at minimal 300dpi and as a jpeg because it's common format, but remember floppy discs? can you read those now? Be aware that the higher the dpi beyond that, the more detail and defects you’ll have. Remove dust  before, and take a moment to read a bit of how to scan. if the photo is tiny it will reproduce larger better if at least 300 or 600. A jpeg is a compressed file, meant to be seen online, and often if you plan, for example, to print as a book or fine print, and if you have the ability to save as a TIFF, then do that as well. There is more “information” in a TIFF. DO NOT make only one scan of any cherished photo and DO NOT store it on ONLY one gadget such as a DVD or a flash. Best to put it on 2 things, and/or an external drive you attach by USB and put one away in a vault or let others know where, or in another home altogether. Print what you know in a list and # the photo’s. make a hard copie for each family person interested and in your files with the drives and also in your general papers. You never know when you’ll discover another relative who has similar photo’s and knows who they are, and this may not happen for a couple of generations. If you know any anecdotes or knew them personally, write those down too. We’re all quarantined now and it’s a good time to do this!  
I had my 8mm and super 8 mm put on DVD and also small specific tapes-i forget the type- because the film is deteriorating. it takes a professional, and while costco will do this, Jeff watched each inch  of my hundreds of rolls, and managed to save some that I think costco couldn’t have saved. Jeff Gall,  DUALLCAMERA.com,  New York, NY 10001   Phone# 212-643-1042. 
 
 


Marjorie Geiser
 

Growing up, I wasn't that interested in family photos. I was aware of one that was packed away, but NEVER knew who it was!
 
I have NO photos of my grandfather (Jacob LEVINE) before he and my grandmother (Flora EPSTEIN) married, and I can't find any living relatives on his side, either. So I have nothing. Nothing.
 
When I started my family tree, just over a year ago, I found a second cousin who had TONS of old photos (not of my grandfather, though), and she gave me some precious ones.
 
Today I scan all the photos I have, stored on an external hard drive, and many now are framed, with who they are on the back. My daughter wasn't interested in any of this until I started working on the family trees, but now she loves seeing these old photos. But all original photos are way too precious to discard.
 
Margie Geiser
Northern Arizona, USA
 

LEVINE/LEWIN, SILBERNAGEL/ZYLBERNAGEL/SILVER, EPSTEJN, MOCZYDLOWER/MOCHEDLOVER, ERLICH, GRUNPELTZ, JOSKOWICZ, ZYLBERSZTEJN, ABRAHAMOWICZ, SZTABINSKA, WILK


joannegrosman joannegrosman
 

Hello,
As far as keeping family photos, it is not always so easy. I am the last of my immediate family and of my extended family no one has showed any interest in family history. I have been left everything. I understand and appreciate the importance of holding onto historical family photos. When I met my 2nd cousin from Israel about 15 years ago, we are all descended from Polish Jews who lived in Czestochowa I gave her copies of group photos I had from my grandmother's family. She sent them to her father a Holocaust survivor in San Francisco who was liberated from Buchenwald. He did not have one photo of his mother in his possession.
Over the years I have tried to donate photos and other memorabilia to appropriate museums: Montreal, New York, Amsterdam; I lot of work is involved to find the right match. There is a company in the US I believe called Legacy Box and they will do all the work for you: scanning, digitizing etc. Not available in Canada. I have a question: I have a large collection of WWII photos and documents and would like to donate to an organization that is involved with Jewish WWII veterans. Some things have been donated to a RCAF museum, but I still have lots more to donate.

regards,
Joanne Grosman
researching Czestochowa/Radomsko
Grosman, Bocian, Kremsdorf, Altman, Garbarski


Nicole Heymans
 

I might add that old (roughly pre-WWII) monochrome photos were usually very fine-grained, even small almost postage stamp sized snapshots or passport photos. Scanning these at the highest resolution available (2400dpi on my scanner) shows up details that go unnoticed on the originals. And it goes without saying that all original photos should be kept, they will survive longer than IT formats, also resolution will improve in future, as will storage capacity. Scan backs of photos too, even (or particularly) if you can't read the writing.
I would not be so adamant about post-war colour photos from negatives smaller than 35mm. They are generally poor quality, in terms of subject, colour and resolution. This was a period when people became snap-happy, so if you have many views of the same scene, keep the best one or two. As for digital photos, all of us probably need to choose the 10 photos per 1000 we would like to bequeath to our descendants.

BTW, to view all messages in a thread, click on view/reply online then scroll down to "view all x messages in topic".

Nicole Heymans, near Brussels, Belgium


viferra@outlook.com
 

Do try to scan at the highest resolution possible; you never know what you will see in the picture.  My husband scanned a picture of a building that was included in the family album.  Imagine our surprise when we saw on an upper floor balcony my great grandmother and some of my father's aunts and uncles.  This was not visible in the printed photograph.  We concluded this was the apartment building in which they resided.

Vicky Furstenberg Ferraresi
Belmont, CA

searching: FUERSTENBERG (Gdansk, Berlin, Shanghai), PROCHOWNIK (Bydgoszcz, Berlin, Shanghai), QUIATOWSKY (Berlin), BAUM (Gdansk),
FREYSTADT (Berlin, Sweden), HEYMANN (Israel, Geneva), SCHULVALTER (Berlin, Brazil), SILBERSTEIN/SILVER (Gdansk, Chicago)


Eleanor Richmond
 

Have you tried to donate to the Jewish Organization on Bathurst St. where the YMHA used to be?The Cndn. Jewish Federation? CanadianJewish Archives?
Each week there is an old photo in the Cndn. Jewish News and the above organization says they want our stuff.
Eleanor Cooper Richmond


joannegrosman joannegrosman
 

Hello,
I will look into this. I do feel it is a weight to figure out what to do with all this archival material I have. Photography runs in my father's family professional and amateur and I have a vast quantity of photographs. I have a lot of military WWII photos as he flew in Bomber Command and was responsible for documenting their tours. I will look into your tips.

regards,
Joanne Grosman
researching Czestochowa/Radomsko


Ellen
 

I am very thankful I have a few photos of some of my great-grandparents and other relatives beyond my immediate family and grandparents.  I also have pictures of people I can't identify because no one thought to write their names on the back.  But I know so much was lost.  For decades, I've been trying to learn what happened to my paternal grandfather's parents and sister during the Holocaust.  My sister recently told me that my aunt and uncle had a copy of a letter that was sent to my grandfather - possibly from the International Red Cross - in response to his inquiry about his family.  After my aunt died unexpectedly and my uncle passed away not long afterwards, though, the letter, family photos, and other items were carelessly thrown out so their house could be sold.  One cousin managed to save one or two boxes and has scanned and shared those photos with me.

I have no idea what to do with my photos, family records, and extended family tree files, as I have no children, but it would be shortsighted of me to let them be thrown out or destroyed after my death.  What should I do with the digital files and the photos once they've been scanned?  Some of my first cousins have children, and even grandchildren; however, they aren't really at the point of wanting to dig into their family history.  I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Ellen

   
--
Researching WEISSMAN/VAYSMAN (Ostropol, Ukraine); MOROZ and ESTRIN/ESTERKIN (Shklov & Bykhov, Belarus); LESSER/LESZEROVITZ, MAIMAN, and BARNETT/BEINHART/BERNHART (Lithuania/Latvia); and ROSENSWEIG/ROSENZWEIG, KIRSCHEN, and SCHWARTZ (Botosani, Romania)


Judy Floam
 

There is a museum in Washington called the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.  Their web address is nmajmh.org


Butch Hill
 

I was in a position similar to Ellen. I inherited a large portfolio of old photos from my mother and had no idea what to do with them. I have a great many cousins and one gave me the idea of posting them on Ancestry. So, I've now scanned several hundred photos and uploaded them to an extended family tree that I built on Ancestry for that purpose. Many of those have now been copied by a surprisingly large number of people. Some of those are immediate cousins, but others are extended cousins (3rd and 4th cousins) and others are researchers from the spousal families of Aunts and Uncles. Some have been copied by researchers assembling large regional collections. Hence, they now free of my possession, having a life of their own. 


Michael Hoffman
 

Hello Joanne Grosman,

The Royal Air Force Museum in London, England has a Photographic Archive and would probably be interested in you Bomber Command Photographs.

You can contact them by email at https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/contact-us/

Best regards,

Michael Hoffman
Borehamwood,
HERTS, UK


Lorraine Rosengarten
 

I had the same issue until I discovered where my ancestor went to school (in the US).  I was fortunate to find a yearbook on line and the school actually sent me his report card.  


Tracy Fish
 

Hi all,

I wanted to give some thoughts/opinions to this as both an active researcher for the last 3 years, who is 29 years old and an Assistant Professor of Photography.

To start with the original posted questions:
1. If you want an exact 1:1 size then scan at 300dpi. If you want the ability to enlarge the photo or enlarge to reveal details in the photo you might have not otherwise seen, I recommend scanning at 600dpi, which is doubling the size of the original. JPEG files are compressed files, however, they will be universal and accessible by anyone and everyone with any software. JPEGs aren't going anywhere anytime soon. If you knew someone that could go into a software like Photoshop to touch up your photos if needed, then I recommend scanning a TIFF file which will be a much larger file size than a JPEG, but it will be uncompressed. That will require to then be converted to JPEG afterwards, but your safest bet is to just go with JPEG.
2. Adobe Bridge (not a free software) is great for batch processing and batch renaming files. This is what I specifically teach all of my students to use and I use exclusively for my own work.
3. There are not only institutions, but ARTISTS in particular who would love to have these objects. There are many many artists that appropriate found photographs into their artwork. While this has a very specific function depending on the work, just to give an alternate example on how they can be used. I'd be happy to share some artist examples of this if anybody is interested.

Now as a I mentioned I am only 29 years old and started researching intensively 3 years ago. While I know my age group is not by any means the "typical" age when people get interested in Ancestry or even researching, there are some of us out there! When I started, the first place I went to was to family photos. There was only THREE photographs for my paternal family. With little to no connection to that side of the family and being a small immediate family for starters, I was devastated to learn this. As my research continued and while I did not manage to uncover anymore photos, all I kept wanting was a face to the name. My maternal side of the family was a different scenario. There were many photos and negatives that I was able to accumulate across a couple of family members. My grandmother use to write on the back of some photos, so I was able to identify some people, which otherwise would not have been possible. Seeing her handwriting was also precious to me and I scanned. As my research continued and I connected with new found cousins, I was able to send them photos and at times they were able to identify people as well! While there are still several photos that I have not been able to identify, I treasure them just as I do with the other photos. Maybe as I connect with more people they will be able to identify them. If there's anything I've learned with researching and uncovering new information, it is not a race, but just a test of patience and time. I was also heartbroken and devastated when I found out a cousin years ago threw out a SUITCASE worth of photos because they thought no one would be interested in them and they didn't know who the people were.

So with that said, PLEASE do not discard objects. While they might take up space, someone might want them in their own time. Having the original photo/negative is always better than a scan. Digital files can get corrupted, thumb-drives, hard drives, and computers can fail. So if you are going to be scanning, make sure you back-up all of your hard work! But also consider keeping your photos. If it is something that you really don't want to hold on to, first ask other family members if they want them. If not, then consider donating or even giving to other sources like artists who would love these precious materials. While I may not have any children to pass all my work on to, I'm looking forward to sharing this information and these objects with my much younger family when they are older.

With warm regards,

Tracy Fish
tsfishphotography@...
Nevada/Brooklyn, New York


jbonline1111@...
 

I had many photos of my aunt's friends, whom I never knew and who were not Jewish. My sister and I went through all the photos.  Those that neither of us recognized went to the local library, which was happy to have them.  I then notified old classmates through Facebook that the photos were available at the library if they wanted to see them. 
--
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC