Allies in Archiving

It's always great to find someone with a mind like your own... Sally, the Practical Archivist, found me a while back and I've recently gone back to her site to soak up some more inspiration. Yes, we can get stagnant sometimes even with the things we enjoy.

I've been dragging my feet about getting a new portable scanner (for mobile gigs) and her recommendations are all I needed. Yah-HOO!

Here she's writing about a recent topic of my own!

(my comments)

I just had this conversation with a friend who used to run a museum. He told me about Registrars not letting anything across the loading dock without a museum registry number. I like your idea of getting the boxes or folders done first, I agree with that.

Recently I’ve started cataloging with a system kind of marrying the two. I start with the fact: Is it in my posession, family, distant family, or a public document? When did I happen upon it? What family line does it deal with? How many items will I have with this ‘session’? and finally what kind of item is it? Document? Photo? Artifact? is it a photocopy?

Sounds like a lot, but wait, here’s how I deal with it in my master spreadsheet.


The A tells me it’s mine. This was scanned with my mother in June of 99, it’s from her mother’s line, it’s a photocopy of a death certificate, and I scanned over 20 items that day. This number alone tells me a lot. I don’t have to fuss with anything else, but I do because that’s me. If this was something emailed to me by a 7th cousin, I would number the file like this:


I’ve decided what the codes will be for my family lines, there are less than 10, of course. Before long, I’ve memorized what the numbers mean, and I can tell you from a list if it’s something I can show you physically, or if the scan is as good as it’s gonna get.

I used to use Windows’ mass file renaming system, which works for less scientific purposes. You click the first of the series, hold the shift key and click the last, then right click in your selection and rename with something general, like “STEWART.2010″ and it will automatically do a sequence like “STEWART.2010 (1).jpg” etc.


Scary Beautiful

Of course, even though I expect a 5-year-old's clingey panic, my boy shines again with his casual bravery. I expected a little vertigo, myself. None such, even taking pictures and looking over the edge of the bridge straight down. Too bad I still got motion sickness driving on Mount Tam.
Oh well...


A Work in Progress

If anyone is wondering what we do with photos and such here is an example of a work in progress. All of these items were running loose before, some were protected in envelopes, but not all together.

They are in archival safe sleeves on archival safe paper, every item has been scanned at at least 600 dpi, unless it is so simple in nature 600 would be overkill, and all digital images are indexed with thumbnail images in documents that are also burned on to the CD with the images. If you lose your index sheets, you can print another. If you lose your CD, you can get another made.

If there were audio files of interviews that went with this particular collection, those would be on CD as well, with a typed-out transcript. One could read along and hear the individual's actual voice, or make copies of the transcript to distribute...

I like this system so much I'm using it on all of my own family archives.

a FamilyOlogy participant

Okay, I finally looked ALL OVER the site - I am impressed immensely. I read Ralph's writings about his family, the Commer/Meuser/Simunac writings (they're related to Poe? hmm) Also looked up Sharp(e) Wondered why Hattie and Inez changed Ralph's last name to SharpE and not Cal's last name, if they liked the E on the end so much better.

Was interested in the spelling Ralph had, and I did not know he quite high school when he was only a sophomore, and also of interest the streets where mom and dad lived when I was born and when Bev was born.

I liked the section that told of the family members being buried at which cemetery in Sacramento.

I think that all the blogs, entries, pictures and other personal information on these different people make them seem more like family members you've known for a long time, where it actually was the fact that you/we/anyone else has done so much detective work that they actually DO feel like they know these people. It's nice to know that after one is gone, they are not always forgotten.


Jan Winkler

The site she's talking about is the New Familyology Blog, "More FamilyOlogy". I've been taking the seperate blogs from the old blogger server and migrating them into one very navigable dynamic blog. It's a great way to keep track of all the research and progress that is made in FAMILY history.


A Non-Terrifying Interview

How long will it take?

As long as you want to.

At bare minimum, 1 hour is required. An amazing amount of "work" can be accomplished in an hour if you stick to the facts. You can, in essence, capture your whole lifetime in that hour, so that, if this is all you ever do, it is certainly better than nothing.

Often this one-hour crash course through your life awakens other memories that had gone stagnant. This is a good thing. The embellishments can come later, and it doesn't all have to come "in order".

Will it hurt?

That's a good question.

Even those who live so-called "exemplary lives" have troubled times, up's and down's. The thing to remember, however, is that we ALL can learn from those times.

In many people's experience, it is wonderfully liberating and healing to finally get skeletons out of the closet. Even if you're not ready to share with the whole family right now, you can have a seperate record all ready to share (with them) when you are.

We are not here to judge. We're just here to support you in recording a totally honest personal and family history. Yes, it can be hard. And yes, it is totally worth it.


Genealogy Research

Now, we're not posing as super-efficient professional genealogists by any means. Personally, I think due to the nature of the beast, it's almost more LUCK based...

HOWEVER, since we can't stand the thought of allegations being published as fact (and therefore messing up others' research) we do whatever we can to verify what is given us, and if the answer is beyond immediate means, we simply note that it hasn't been proven or is a secondary source.


DON'T ship off your Treasures

Have you noticed that a lot of the other services that want to scan your heirloom photos or other media start out with MAILING them off somewhere?

Granted, most things, if packed properly, can take it. Fed-Ex and those guys aren't that bad. But still... some things just yank at your sentimentally paranoid heartstrings. "What if?.."

Vintage Voices Family Archiving does not require you to send anything you don't want to. If you are close enough to one of our Mobile Archivists, we are perfectly willing and able to pick up your treasures ourselves, or, in some cases, scan or digitally photograph them right where you are.

That's part of what we mean when we say we're "Totally Mobile".

Creative-Block Coma

Have you ever looked around at all the stuff marketed for scrapbooking and just been overwhelmed? Die cuts, ribbon, buttons, wire, fabric, corners, shapes, etc. etc.... Where did all this stuff come from?

It is nice to look at, and there's some really good ideas... and maybe you actually bought some "must-have's"... But the old-fashioned scrapbooks weren't ALL bad, were they?

Except for the "Acid Free" revolution, which should be a no-brainer by now, nothing's wrong with simple straightforward pages with decisive journaling.

IN SHORT, the word "Scrapbooking" should not send you into a Coma of Creative-Block. If it does, maybe you need to take a breath, prioritize and simplify.

Our very top priority is to reclaim photos and documents from older methods of storage and put them into a safer environment.

Fragile Photos

Do you have photos that are cracking, chipping, or already torn? ( Distressed furniture is in vogue, but it’s not good for heirloom photos. )

First we'll stabilize the item so we can scan it (digitize it) and then whatever you choose to do with the original item, it will be safer than it was before.

Once it’s digital, we bring out the best and clean up the rest.

Scanned and saved in high resolution, you can make re-prints or reasonable enlargements that will look more like the image did when it was first in the hands of your ancestors.

The Digital Audio Advantage

Although it is still practical and acceptable to make audio casette tapes of interviews and group conversations for preservation of oral history, there are many advantages to digital recordings.
* The quality of recording depends on the method and equipment used, however digital does not deteriorate. A recorded CD is expected to last 100 years.
* There is no tape to get stretched or "eaten" by a machine.

* There is significantly less storage space required, no rattling cassettes to box up.

* Editing, splicing, and cataloging sound clips- no matter how long- will not lessen the quality. It can be done in a similar way as a word document is created and edited.

* Sharing the sound files can be as easy as an email or burning a CD. Minutes vs. hours.

* CD's can be created with chapters/tracks and listened to just like a pre-recorded audio CD.

* Sound files can be added to slide shows or movies to share with a group or on the net.

Vintage Voices Family Archivists are equipped with digital voice recorders and editing capabilities to make your oral histories a pleasure to listen to for generations to come.

Just imagine surfing a CD of Uncle Jack's jokes...

(Cassette recordings are still available if you prefer)