Time to get those old photo albums out! Many of those photos may have mold growing on them, or the colors may be changing, or there is no name associated with the photo. Don't let those people become "nameless faces".
Begin by identifying the people you know in the photos. Those that you don't know? Time to begin asking other family members for help!
Photos can also give clues about when the photo was taken, by the clothing styles worn, and such. Did you know that little boys were often dressed in dresses around the 1900s? How can you tell a boy or girl apart? Boys had their hair parted on the side and the girls down the middle. Fun Fact.
Don't forget your own immediate family photos. Where are they located? Do you have them all digitized and safety backed up? Are they labeled? Can you find them easily?
Read this interesting article written by the great grandson of "Popeye", entitled "Why your digital photos might die before your grandkids see them". The current generation of youth and young adults are storing their photos on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. They are not stored in full quality, and will be vulnerable to being lost when accounts close, etc.
Review with your family how they might better protect and ensure that their photos, scrapbooks, etc are safely stored for generations.
Here are two handouts to review if you like to help you:
#1) Organize Your Files
#2) Develop a Safe Backup Strategy
They say that a picture is worth a "thousand words". How much better though is a great photo that has a fun short story attached to it?
Start collecting stories from your parents & grandparents. Edit the stories into individual brief "memories". Put them into Family Tree so they can be easily shared and remembered always. Unless preserved, those fun stories will be forgotten.
A "Memory" is NOT a long history or story! Think of a memory as a "soundbyte" (storybyte?) for others to be able to quickly read. You can create a memory in just a few minutes.
AND…don't forget to create and share your own memories with your posterity. There is no one better to write them than YOU.
I try to create a "photo/story" once a week about something that happened in my life, and then SHARE that memory or story with my children & grandchildren. These "memories" will be what my posterity remember me by.
View a couple of examples below that I wrote and shared to my posterity.
Don't throw away that poor quality photo of grandpa Wilbur yet! Are there big scratches on the photo? Is the color balance way off? Often, using a few simple photo editing tools, can greatly enhance that photo.
These images were edited with a free online photo editor called "Pixlr", using 6 basic editing tools. We have classes on how to do this, or we can also sit down with your family and have a "hands on" session on how to edit photos.
Our grandparents and parents will have so many life stories to pass on to us that help us to understand them better and to "connect" with them. Their memories are lost if they are not written down or recorded. We need to preserve their heritage by gathering those stories and uploading them to FamilySearch.
Using the FamilySearch "Memories" app on our smartphones, we can easily write a short story (or memory), record an audio recording of them telling a brief story, add a photo, etc. Of course you can also use the FamilySearch Gallery webpage to add these things as well.
Remember the "memories" are not long histories. They are a brief story of an event that happened in their life, or a 3-5" audio recording of a life story. What is really fun once these memories are in FamilySearch, is to SHARE the memory with family members through Facebook, emails, or messages using the webpage link. The individuals receiving the link can view the story without even logging into FamilySearch.
Audio recordings of our ancestors as they tell stories of their lives can be inspiring. These recordings become a part of them, and add to their legacy.
Can you imagine listening to a Danish great grandmother singing a primary song with her Danish accent?
We can help you digitize your cassette tape audio recordings so they can easily be played back on your computer. What a wonderful way of saving a digital file of your ancestor's stories in a shareable digital format! You can even load digital recordings up to 15 megabytes in size to Family Tree to share with others. With some simple editing you can break down a long interview into smaller "soundbytes" of individual stories.
This page is coming!
We have explored different options at our library to help you preserve your film movies. For now, you might think about ways to get your movies digitized commercially to preserve them. Over time they will begin to get more brittle, will warp, and such to the point of no longer being viewable.
Once you have a digital movie file, we can help you screen capture some of the "characters" in the file that can be saved as a separate photo file. I found a photo of my great grandfather in a segment of film. I had no other photos of him previously. Film can be useful for a variety of different things, but has to be digitized first.
You could even take short video segments or clips and get them into FamilySearch. Click on the button below to see an example of how this is done. We can show you how to do this at the library.
Our current young generation live life by taking selfies, video clips, and photos that they post to Facebook and other social media platforms. Do we need to preserve ALL the photos or video clips that we ever took? It we kept "everything" it would probably take years of reviewing just to get through them all. We live in a "soundbite" world, where most individuals probably wouldn't be able to sit through more than 3-5" of an audio recording or video.
Remember our 45" VHS recordings of the family decorating the Christmas tree, or our child's two hour basketball game? Think about how future generations will watch a video file. They will only want to see the HIGHLIGHTS of the event. If you have a two hour VHS tape filled with numerous different events on it, think about editing or splitting that two hour tape into the specific events. You may then want to further edit each event down to a 3-5" video clip with a catchy title. (Hint: always keep the original file in case you want to use it in the future.)
You certainly don't need 15 photos of your family dog or cat, or 25 photos of your child at their birthday party. Go through what you have and then take those photos that have a good story about them. Can you imagine your kids going through your photo collection of 9,500+ photos of your life after you pass on? You can keep them all if you like in a different folder, but try to sort them down to just a few important ones for each event.
Here's something to ponder. Try not to upload photos without any description about them. In 40 years, will anyone ever know anything about that photo …or care? If there is a fun story attached to the photo, it helps us connect with it.
Videos can be uploaded and stored on YouTube for free and then the link shared with anyone you want. You could also do screenshots of the different individuals in that video, paste them into a Word document, and then label who the individuals are. The YouTube link could be pasted into the Word Document and then saved as a PDF file and uploaded to Family Tree. Anyone opening up the PDF file could click on the video link and watch it, but also know who is on the video by looking at the PDF document. Here's an example of how this works.
Did You Know that 90% of history is lost after just 3 generations?
Most of us have numerous brief memories about our grandparents. Can you imagine what would happen if each grandchild (our cousins) added just one short story about their grandparents? Soon there would be numerous stories posted that add a greater perspective of this grandparent. Just think about the great-great grandchildren (and beyond) that are now able to read, listen to, and learn about this "distant" ancestor. We can't let the legacy of our ancestors just die away over time. Those stories need to be preserved.
Did you know that the mobile FamilyTree App for both Android and Apple phones has the ability to record a digital story of a relative and post it directly to Family Tree? With so many of our youth having these smartphones, wouldn't it be great if they could start recording real life audio stories of their parents and grandparents? If you have not tried this app, do so, and have your children and grandchildren show you how it works!
Stories connect us to our ancestors. There are so many times that I wish I could know more about my great-grandparents and their lives. Luckily, my father had written down some of his memories about his grandparents and shared them with his family. I created a "memory" about my great grandfather using the story that my father had written about him and posted it, along with a photo of the huge train engine he drove, on Family Tree. (I love trains! See story HERE) If you clicked on the link, you will have seen how easy it is to SHARE these Family Tree "Memories" (stories, documents, photos, audio) with other family members, especially to our young posterity. I had seen photos of him before, but the STORY helped connect my heart to my grandfather. We can never underestimate the power of a story!
Have you thought about how you are going to preserve your ancestor's heritage, as well as that of your own family? This is one of the reasons for the Church to emphasize why it is so important to "GATHER". There are many different reasons for preserving old photos. They show the life events of our ancestors, what they looked like, what they may have enjoyed, the homes they lived in, and many other facts. Through old photos I have identified the existence of young children that were not listed in Family Tree nor on Census Records, having died between those census years. Through photographs of friends that my great grandmother had in her albums, I have made contact with descendants of those individuals through Family Tree. Many of these were not LDS, and ecstatic to have the opportunity to see photos of their ancestors. What is so sad is to see those old albums sit on shelves or in boxes in the attic or basement, never to be shared, with an increasing number of "nameless faces" being stored there as our parents or grandparents can no longer remember their names.
How about those old family slides many of us have in our possession? I remember the days when we pulled out the screen and slide projector to watch slides of our family camping trips and other life events. Those were fun family times. Even better were the old 8 mm movie films that our family had of us making funny faces, jumping and swimming in the lake, etc. Those slides and movies told about our life stories. There are unwritten stories in those slides and movies that we need to tell before we are no longer able to do so.
Many of our families have stored their family's life events on VHS tapes that also sit on shelves seldom looked at, and slowly degrading over time. Since July 2016, the last VHS machines have no longer been manufactured. Very soon, those life stories will no longer be viewable by the next generation of our posterity. The time is NOW to save the video history that is on those tapes, while there are machines still around to view them. We can help you with this process. Just ask us.
Facebook, Instagram, Google +, and other social media platforms are commonly used to store photos and videos. These photos and videos are however at high risk of just disappearing. For an interesting article about this, please click HERE. The author's grandfather was Popeye.
Our library has a variety of scanners for photo and document preservation, slide & negative scanners, and special computers to help you with converting VHS and audio tapes to digital files that can be stored and backed up. It would certainly be a shame not to keep them in use! :)