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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Tuesday
    Aug062013

    Archiving JPG Scans and Photos from Your Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, Digital Camera, and Mobile Phone

    Nebraska summer

    Nebraska Summer
    JPG 614 KB vs. TIFF 9.2 MB

    It's no coincidence that compact mobile scanning devices produce only JPG files. Whether you are using a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, a cell phone camera, smartphone app, wand scanner, or point-and-shoot digital , the resulting digital file is a JPG image file. 

    JPG files use compression to keep the overall file size small so that more images can fit on a storage card or hard drive. Small portable devices like the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and digital cameras need this kind of high-capacity storage. The Flip-Pal is completely battery-powered and saves scanned images to a small SD card, probably like the one in your digital camera. The included 2 MB SD card will hold about 900 scans at 600 dpi resolution. That's a lot of photos in a very small space.

    JPG vs. TIFF

    In the world of digital imaging, JPG is a hero because the file format can compress an image to save space. This compression makes it possible to email a photo, send a file for printing, or post pictures to Pinterest or Facebook. But every time a JPG file is Saved, a bit of the information within the file is lost. Hence, JPG files are known as lossy files. For the average photo that is opened a saved a few times, the image loss is probably undetectable to the average eye. But when a photo is opened, edited, and saved repeatedly, the image can become almost unusable.

    It doesn't matter if the JPG image originated in your digital camera, your wand scanner, or on your smartphone, the JPG file will degrade with repeated Saves. How many? I tried to correct a poor quality digital photo over several sessions with my photo editing software; after more than a dozen attempts the image became blotchy and filled with pixellated artifacts. 

    Professional archivists and photographers have always had more demanding goals than consumers. They want to preserve original materials, and recommend using TIFF loss-less file format for archiving images. Unfortunately, TIFF files can be huge, and even with the current low price of terabyte storage, TIFF files are impractical for sharing and storing on portable devices. 

    In the world of digital photography, the equivalent of TIFF format files is RAW, another very-large file that requires some amount of post-photograph developing. Most family photographers don't need or want to learn to "shoot RAW."

    What Genealogists Want

    Family historians want it all. We want digital files we can

    • share with friends and family
    • post on websites, social media and sharing sites
    • print at our local big box store
    • edit and use in digital photo albums and scrapbooks
    • include in video slideshows and presentations

    AND, We want to create these digital files

    • without power cables
    • without computer cables
    • without a lot of fuss
    • wherever we happen to be at the moment

    My experience with that damaged photo taught me to use a simple workaround so I will never lose a JPG file again. Here's what I learned:

    Three Solutions

    The best advice we have today offers three easy solutions to preserving digital images for the future. The one you choose should depend on your time, funds, and personal goals. 

    TIFF is the archival gold-standard. Try to scan heirloom photos and documents in TIFF.

    When you don't have the option of TIFF, don't despair, remember C-A-N:

    C - Convert your JPG to TIFF and save all TIFF files in an Archive Folder.

    Tip: Use the same filename for both JPG and TIFF files. The .tif extension will remind you that this large, loss-less file is your Digital Master Image. If you need to open it for editing, the TIFF version will not degrade when saved.

    When you need a JPG version for email, editing, or another project, you will need to Export or Save As JPG.

    A - Archive a JPG copy of the original file and save this new JPG in an Archive Folder.

    Make it a Rule never to open the Archive JPG unless the original file is damaged or lost.

    Tip: Use a common root filename for both files --

    smith-john_1916_marriage.jpg (for the original file)

    smith-john_1916_marriageDM.jpg (for the Digital Master copy in your Archive Folder)

    N - Use a Nondestructive photo editor.

    Some photo editing programs never modify the original file. You can ALWAYS revert back to the original, even after repeated cropping, touch-ups, and enhancing. Look for this feature in your current program; not all photo editors are non-destructive.

    Popular nondestructive photo editing software includes Google PicasaApple iPhoto, Apple Aperture, and Adobe Lightroom. These programs handle files differently, but the original image is preserved.

    Go Ahead - Create JPG Images

    All this means that you CAN have the convenience of mobile scanning and photography and the security of a digital archive. In fact, mobile devices can help you easily build your own family history digital archive.

    When capturing images on your camera, scanner, or mobile phone, always use the highest quality and move the images to your computer hard drive for file renaming before backing up files to the Cloud and/or an external hard drive. 

    Flip-Pal Summer Sale

    The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is the only fully-portable scanner that features a unique, gentle flat-bed operation for digitizing fragile family photos, documents and heirlooms. It's really two scanners in one: a traditional glass flat-bed scanner with flip-down cover and a unique see-thru scanner for digitizing oversize and awkward items.

    The see-thru feature is especially helpful for capturing images from photo albums and bound books. Remove the scanner cover, flip the scanner, and position the device to scan your item.

    Use the C-A-N method to add your image to your family history digital archive.

    Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner bundles are on sale this summer. Get ready for your family reunion and the upcoming holiday season. Save $30 on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Picture Keeper Bundle! Coupon code: SAS725

     

    P.S.: I bought my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner over three years ago and have used it for all kinds of digitizing projects. It's not my only scanner, but it's certainly the most fun to use! Yes, I am an Affiliate; I like it that much!

    Wednesday
    Jul312013

    The GRIP Report: Vol. 2. No. 2 Photo Collage

     

    Not-so-Wordless Wednesday -- Photos from the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh 2013.

    Top Row, from left -- Convent cemetery, La Roche College, campus tower.

    Middle Row -- Class Photo, Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS, Dr. Thomas W. Jones Instructor

    Bottom Row, from left -- Dr. Jones with Denise Levenick, Lecturers Noreen Manzella and Cathi Desmarais, evening lecture with Angela McGhie.

    Monday
    Jul292013

    Heads Up! More GeneaFiction On the Way from Steve Robinson, Author of In the Blood

    Steve robinson

    Fans of Jefferson Tayte will be happy to know that the American genealogist will be back next spring with more family history sleuthing in Great Britain. Author Steve Robinson let the word out recently via Twitter that he is planning another past-narrative adventure for Tayte, and it's my guess that the fourth novel in the series will also be set in Great Britain.

    In answer to my email query about the new release, Steve would only say:

    . . . it will have a past and present narrative again this time, much like with To the Grave in that it will be told from a single point of view from a woman, this time in the Edwardian era.  It will also be linked to some true events from the period. . .

    Of course, the English setting makes it great fun for the reader, because we can well-imagine J.T.'s inner voices as he tries to conquer his fear of flying to  move forward with his research "across the pond."  If you haven't met Tayte yet, summertime may be the perfect time to catch up with the storyline. But, also know that each of the novels is a also great stand-alone read.

     In the Blood   introduced Jefferson Tayte, a professional American genealogist who is sent to England by a wealthy client to track down the truth behind a family mystery. Tayte discovers more problems than undecipherable handwriting or misplaced records, he finds an entire legacy founded on deception. And, of course, J.T.'s meddling puts him in the middle of a dangerous situation. Read my review of In the Blood and my exclusive interview with author Steve Robinson here:

    Book Review: In the Blood Genea Fiction and Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson

    Within a few months of its release, In the Blood was selected by Amazon UK as one of the "Best Books of 2011" and has gone on to be a 'Kindle Customer Favourite' on both sides of the Atlantic.

    J.T.'s adventures continue in To the Grave (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery) , a poignant story of love and family relationships revealed through the narrative set in England of the 1940's and the present day. Real-life genealogists challenged with adoption research will recognize some of the problems J.T. encounters as he attempts to reunite his client with his birth mother.

    To the Grave was awarded the Family Tree Magazine 'Seal of Approval' in June 2012 and recommended by Goodreads and the Kindle Users Forum.

     The Last Queen of England  , Robinson's most recent novel in the series was published last fall, and quickly moved to the top of the Kindle book charts. The ebook was followed by the paperback edition and selected as a UK Amazon Kindle Forum Book of the Month for February 2013. 

    Described as "the ultimate heir hunt," I found The Last Queen of England to be a fast-paced thriller in the style of the Da Vinci Code with a genealogical twist. Tayte is visiting in England when his best friend is murdered, and Tayte becomes the killer's next target. It's hard to put down this book; plan for a late night as you near the hair pulling conclusion.

    Catch up with J.T. this summer, and be ready for No. 4 in the Jeffereson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery Series.

    Read More About Author Steve Robinson

    Steve generously joined me at The Family Curator for two interviews last year:

    A Chat With Steve Robinson About The Last Queen of England

    Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson, Author of the Genealogical Crime Mystery Series

    Visit Steve Robinson website for more. All three books are now available in eBook or paperback editions.

           

     

    Wednesday
    Jul242013

    The GRIP Report Vol. 2 No. 1: Hit the Ground Running

    Angela Packer McGhie, evening presenter at GRIP

    Jet-lag just "doesn't work" here at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh. Attendees converged at La Roche College Sunday afternoon and were in the classrooms early Monday morning for the first sessions. I wasn't the only one who traveled across time zones to get here. The daily conference newsletter reported that genealogists came from 34 states and one foreign country:

    • Pennsylvania: 38
    • Ohio: 15
    • New Jersey: 10
    • Maryland: 9
    • Virginia, Indiana: 8 each
    • Colorado, Massachusetts, New York: 7 each
    • Washington: 7
    • Michigan: 5
    • Texas: 4
    • Delaware, Georgia, Ilinois, Minnesota, West Virginia: 3 each
    • Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, South Carolina, Wisconsin: 2 each
    • Italy, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, NewHampshire, Tennessee, Vermont: 1 each

    The institute sessions this year include six courses taught by a roster of outstanding genealogy educators. I'm taking Dr. Tom Jones inagural course based on his new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof. 

    Genealogy Camp

    I've heard a few people refer to GRIP as Genealogy Camp, and it does have a bit of the Camp atmosphere because of the small group setting with 150 students. The classrooms, dorms, and cafeteria are all situated together at LaRoche -- convenient and congenial. But the atmosphere is more like graduate school, with "focus and discipline" (as Dr. Jones notes) as the goal.

    That is, except for MOVIE NIGHT! I remember those much-anticipated evenings at summer camp, and Tuesday evening, GRIP directors Elissa Scalise Powell and Deborah Lichtner Deal arranged a special showing of the season premier of Who Do You Think You Are? following the evening genealogy presentation by Angela Packer McGhie.

    It was great fun to follow Kelly Clarkson on her family history journey and watch her reaction to learning about her ancestors. But, the biggest round of applause was reserved for GRIP instructor and WDYTYA researcher Josh Taylor. You don't always get to go to camp with a movie star!

    Sunday
    Jul212013

    Orange County Summers ca. 1960

    What's Are You Doing for Summer Vacation?

    La habra library

    I remember when the big question during the final weeks of the school year was always the same, "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

    "Nuthin'"

    My friends were carted off on exotic camping vacations to Yellowstone, or spent weeks visiting relatives in Omaha. Hardly anyone I knew went to summer school; it seemed mostly for kids who had to make up classes after they were out for weeks with mono, or for anyone who had the misfortune to flunk chemistry.

    Summer in Orange County, California was hot, smoggy, and wonderfully dull. My mom planned just enough activities to keep us out of trouble (so she thought), and the rest of our days were spent playing with friends, reading, and inventing stuff in the backyard. With four years between us, my sister may remembers those days differently, but I loved the gift of freedom and the challenge "Girls, go find something to do."

    B-O-R-E is a Four Letter Word

    Summers were never boring. We spent days building elaborate Barbie houses and then whined because we ran out of time to play with them. On hot afternoons, we kneeled in the dirt along the shady side of the house and collected iron filings. What do you do with iron filings? I don't know, but they're cool.

    As a pre-teen I babysat for neighbors, ironed hankies for pocket money, and was the driving force behind a variety of start-up businesses. We sold lemonade, lemons, and avocados. We printed out a newspaper using an office mimeograph master and a tray of Knox gelatin. We put on plays, talent shows, and musicals.

    The 60's were good years to keep teenagers busy. I have more memories of psychedelic sunsets at scout camp than I do of concerts and music. Our groovy skits provided campfire entertainment and the best camp crafts were candles and love-beads.

    The activities changed with the years, from iron filings to scout camp to camp counselor, but one annual event remained as popular when I was 15 as when I was 5 -- the public library summer reading program.

    Every June the public library promoted summer reading with a themed program filled with contests and activities. It was the best part of summer for a nerdy girl who loved to read. The only problem was the 10 book limit on how many titles you could check out. Ten books is hardly enough when you are whipping through the Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew series.

    I haven't collected iron filings in a long time, but I still see summer as a time to try something new and to read my way through the heat. I mark the end of the school year with my own list of summertime goals, although goals is too business-like to suit the mood of summer. Dreams would be better. Summertime is dream-time. A time to master a new skill, discover a new talent, or read a new book.

    This summer I'm working my way through a stack of new books, learning to make my step-mom's Texas fried chicken, and working through Dr. Tom Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof. Oh, and I'm going returning to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), or Genealogy Camp as I've heard it called.

    "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

    Thursday
    Jul182013

    Awkward Family Photos, Panorama Group Style

    Camp pano boys

    Don't squirm, Little Bro
    Remember the old banquet-style photographs I recently dehumidified and unrolled? I've had a lot of fun looking at the details through my Magnabrite globe and on my computer.

    I scanned the camp photo with my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and reassembled the 18 images using the included EasyStitch software. The stitching process was finished in only three minutes and gave me a complete digital image of the 8 x 26-inch photograph.

    And, look what I found --

    Camp pano sign

    Genealogically Interesting

    The photograph was snapped August 21-28, 1948 at Hume Lake [California] for the Inter-Church Bible Conference. That means that my mom and aunt (pictured below and outlined in blue) were there with people from their church group and other, probably local Orange County, churches. Anyone with ancestors in Orange County, California who attended a fundamental Christian church about 1948 might find their family members in this group photo. 

    Now, I need to pin down the name of Mom and Auntie's church at that time. Although this looks like a camp for church members of all ages, I don't see my grandparents. They were probably  home enjoying the break with their two girls away for the week! 

    Inter Church Camp, Hume Lake, California 1948

    Awkward Moments

    Looking closer at the photo, I found some intriguing drama, and some humorous actions captured on film. The image above is a thumbnail version; if you click on it, a full-size photo should open so you can follow along:

    First, check out where everyone is looking. The kids and teens are all dutifully staring directly at the photographer. But, look at Boss Lady on the far left (outlined in green). The lady with the "pocketbook" gripped tightly under her arm. Is she looking at that cute baby in the top row? Or, is she keeping an eye on the teenage boys further along the line?

    A few other people aren't looking at the camera -- the baby is watching something more interesting, Mom? And then, look at the folks on the right side of the photo, selected in the red boxes. What's going on over there? 

    The adults are all behaving pretty well in this photo, not surprisingly. Even the teenagers are keeping their hands under control. Note the protective hands placed on the women's and girls' shoulders by nearby males. The guy in the top row doesn't quite know where to place his hand so he settles for the girl's throat. Scary!

    It's the kids along the front who are having the most fun. Outlined in green, from left to right, check out:

    • the little girl trying to hide her nail biting
    • the boy blowing a championship bubble-gum bubble
    • the kid waving
    • the big brother throttling little brother and holding his chin up

    I've probably missed a few more graceless movements captured in time; leave a comment with your own additions. And watch what you're doing in your next group photo! 

    Tuesday
    Jul162013

    On the Road with Gena and Jean's Genealogy Tour

    Two ladies sitting in motor car museum of hartlepool flickr the commons

    Don't you love the theme photo at Gena and Jean's Genealogy Journey Blog?
    Museum of Hartlepool. Flickr the Commons

    Gena Philibert-Ortega and Jean Wilcox Hibben are on the road this month lecturing on genealogy and social history, and sharing their new books. This week Gena and Jean have appearances in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley before driving up the Pacific coast to stop off in Santa Barbara. Next week, the pair will be speaking in Sacramento. 

    The complete tour schedule is posted on their tour blog, Gena and Jean's Genealogy Journey. The concept of a genealogy book tour is a unique idea, and contributions from tour sponsors will  help to defray Gena and Jean's travel expenses.

    Gena is the author of From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes  and a popular speaker and prolific writer on women and social history topics. Gena blogs about cookbooks, recipes, and all kinds of cool stuff at her blogs Gena's Genealogy and Food. Family. Ephemera.

    Gena and Jean are long-time friends and are both active in the Association of Professional Genealogists and other national and local genealogy organizations

    Jean is a Board Certified genealogist with a special interest in folk music and a new historical novel chronicling the story of her great great grandmother, Elisabeth.  Jean writes about her projects and research at Circlemending.

    Jean is also the lead researcher for the upcoming PBS television program Genealogy Roadshow.Gena and Jean also plan to make a stop in San Francisco to be on-site for the Genealogy Roadshow filming in San Francisco.

    Everyone who attends their presentations is in for a treat. Check out the schedule and follow their adventures on their genealogy journey.

    Tuesday
    Jul162013

    Heir Apparent Learns How to Preserve Family Keepsakes

      

    Meet David. He's not quite two years old, but he knows it's important to take good care of your Blankie.

    When David has a question about preserving family keepsakes he turns to How to Archive Family Keepsakes for straightforward advice on storage methods and techniques. 

    Some folks want to throw Blankie under his stroller, other people want to stuff him in the diaper bag (phewwww!). David learned that Blankie, like all textiles, is happiest when he's put away nice and clean and stored in a cool place away from heat, light, and moisture. 

    Blankie isn't very big, so it will be easy to roll him in a clean white sheet and let him take a long nap on the closet shelf. One day. But right now, David has decided it's just fine to keep Blankie nearby. After all, Blankie IS a Family Keepsake.

    In Every Family, Somone Inherits "The Stuff."

    Order your copy How to Archive Family Keepsakes today, and learn how to care for and preserve textiles like Blankie, and all kinds of keepsakes --

    • antique and vintage photographs
    • slides and negatives
    • film and video
    • photo albums
    • scrapbooks
    • diaries and journals
    • Family Bibles
    • genealogy research materials
    • baby albums
    • yearbooks and bound books
    • art
    • furniture
    • china and glassware
    • collectibles
    • musical instruments
    • quilts and samplers
    • clothing
    • military insignia
    • uniforms
    • scouting memorabilia
    • watches and jewelry
    • metal tools
    • toys, dolls, games

    . . . including Hop Hop, David's toy stuffed frog.

    How to Archive Family Keepsakes is available in paperback and ebook editions from Amazon.comShopFamilyTree, iBooksBarnes and Noble, and retail booksellers.

        10% Off 

     

     

     

    Saturday
    Jul132013

    Unlocking Inspiration in Arline's Heirloom Photograph

    Kayli owl

    My New-Fashioned Old-Fashioned Photo Locket

    My grandmother loved lockets and photo jewelry, and I do too. My niece, Kayli Craig, crafted this new keepsake for me with specialty items as an Origami Owl Custom Jewelry Designer. The locket features a snap open glass case that can hold three-dimensional objects, including this photo of my grandmother Arline and a gold-tone heart frame I found in a box of her old jewelry. I think the little metal frame may once have held another photo in it's own locket. I selected the family tree charm as my own contribution.

    We don't know much about Arline's beautiful photograph. Other similar photos are dated about 1908 and look very similar, giving a clue that this may have been created about the same time. Arline would have been 18 years old.

    Arline 1 web

    Arline Allen Kinsel, ca. 1908-1910

    This same photo was also the inspiration for a custom-made porcelain doll commissioned by Arline's eldest daughter sometime in the 1970s. The doll is dressed in white cotton with an eyelet jacket and black velvet ribbons at the wrist. A faded bouquet of flowers is tucked into her waistband. All that is missing is the wonderful hat with the organza butterflies ready to take flight.

    Doll 2

    Time has not been kind to the Arline doll. She was displayed in a glass-front case for many years where the light and air stained her gown and the painted porcelain. Poor dolly.

    I'm enjoying my own 21st century memento of Arline, especially knowing that the photo inside the glass locket was printed from a digital image and the keepsake original is tucked away safely in an archival box.

    If you are interested in keepsake lockets, please contact my niece to learn about the different options and styles available, including silver, gold, or bronze-tone. She can be reached through her website www.trinketsandcharms.origamiowl.com.

    Official Disclosure: Of course, I do have to advise you that I am not under any undue pressure to ooohhhhh and ahhhhh over this piece of jewelry. I picked it out and paid for it myself because I like it! (And I'm pretty crazy about my niece too).

    Tuesday
    Jul092013

    Where to Store Long Group Photos or Banquet Prints: Treasure Chest Thursday

     

    Inter-Church Family Bible Conference Hume Lake Aug. 21-28 1948

    Now that you've successfully dehumidified all those lovely old documents and long group photos that were held in tightly rolled little batons, you must be looking for a suitable archival-quality storage container. Right?

    You will want to store your photos and documents lying flat, and if you have multiple photos or documents it's a good idea to place a sheet of archival paper between each item. 

    The best storage choice is an acid-free, lignin-free archival box purchased from a reputable preservation supplier. These companies sell only archival quality products and their biggest customers are libraries, archives, and other institutions.

    You may find inexpensive boxes labeled "archival," but unless the tag also reads "Acid-free" and possibly "Lignin-free," it is not a true archival product. Confused? You are not alone.

    Why "Archival" Is Not Always Archival

    Unfortunately, the word "archival" is used freely by manufacturers to describe ANY container intended to store stuff. The word itself has no legal qualification. It's a bit like the word "organic." 

    Remember in the early days of the natural food movement when anyone and everyone called their produce "organic"? In 1990s, the government decided to lay down some ground rules; and today, when you see "certified organic" carrots you can be assured that those orange vegetables meet certain USDA standards. 

    It's much the same with archival products. Anyone can call a photo box "archival." After all, the box may be designed to "archive" or "store" photos. While there may come a time when the industry offers "certified archival" products that meet certain standards, for now, just know that the best storage containers for family keepsakes are labeled as acid-free, lignin-free (or low-lignin) containers.

    Where to Find True "Archival" Storage Boxes

    I'm often asked where to purchase archival storage boxes, and I have to confess that I'm a great believer in not re-inventing the wheel. When I want to purchase something new, I look for recommendations from people I trust. I feel very comfortable purchasing archival suppliers from the same manufacturer who supplies The Library of Congress and The National Archives. And, I'm not just playing favorites because this same company was kind enough to sponsor my Preserving Keepsakes Workshop at the recent Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. 

    For at least 15 years, my go-to archival supplier has been Hollinger Metal Edge, with locations in Virginia and Southern California. Hollinger offers museum-quality archival products in all shapes and sizes, from photo to document to keepsake storage.

    Those long rolled photos we've been working with are sometimes called "banquet photos," presumably because so many images were made of convention and conference banquet attendees. Look for long shallow boxes called "Banquet Photo Storage" or  "Group Photo Boxes." You may have to order in quantities of three or more, so find a friend or someone in your genealogical society who will share an order with you.

    Banquet Photo Boxes

    Banquetbox

    Hollinger banquet boxes measure  24 x 12 1/2 x 2-inches and cost under $20 per box. Mylar protective sleeves and archival folders sized to fit individual prints are also available. 

    Other archival suppliers may offer similar storage boxes; just be careful to purchase true archival-quality containers. Look for acid-free, lignin free boxes.

    DIY Options?

    You may not want to invest in archival boxes right now; maybe you'd like to find someone to split that order with you. Or, maybe you have only one or two prints and plan to have them framed in the near future.

    A DIY archival folder will also protect your newly-flattened print from dust and light. You will need a sheet of heavy-weight archival board, about the weight of good card stock. Simply fold the board in half, and place your print inside. Use scrapbook tape to close the ends and store the folder on a shelf or on top of archival boxes. Be careful not to put items on top of the folder that might cause abrasions on the image, and plan to move the prints to more secure storage as soon as possible.

    Archival board is often available at art supply and framing stores. Look for acid-free, lignin-free board.

    Where to Store Your Banquet Photo Boxes

    Family keepsakes benefit from kind storage. Place your boxes in a location where you live and the temperature is fairly constant -- not too hot, or too cold. An empty closet or cupboard in your home is a good spot. Avoid humidity, dust, light, pests, and smoke or fumes. 

    For more ideas on locating your home archive and preserving different kinds of family treasures, check out my book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records available in paperback, or the Kindle ebook excerpt How to Organize Inherited Items .

    See Also:

    Photo Tutorial: How to Relax and Rehumidify Old Rolled Photographs

    Official Disclosure: At my request, Hollinger Metal Edge provided an assortment of archival products for display and demonstration in my workshop at the 2013 SCGS Jamboree. I was not required to promote or endorse their products. I receive a small commission from sales when customers indicate FAMILYCURATOR in the coupon code box. I also recieve a small commision through sales at Amazon and Family Tree Books.

    Tuesday
    Jul092013

    Photo Tutorial: How to Relax and Rehumidify Old Rolled Photographs and Documents


     

    If you've ever tried to capture a family photo with everyone smiling at the same time, you know the exquisite torture of group photography. Some wise-guy pulls the rabbit-ears trick at the last minute, or crosses his eyes, or yanks someone's hair. That's why I love those long tightly-rolled panorama photos often found cast aside in family collections. You can usually spot a goofy grin, a secret wink or a wayward hand. It's a second of social history captured by lens and film.

    It's obvious that people don't quite know what to do with these old rolled photos. They resist exploration. When forced flat, the paper often cracks every few inches damaging the photograph. If you try to look at the photo a few inches at a time, carefully handling the paper as though you were reading an ancient scroll, it's hard to get the "big picture" of what's going on.

    This 1929 black-and-white panorama photo is a classic example of what can happen when a brittle rolled photograph is forcibly flattened without first reconditioning the paper; the print is cracked at regular intervals across the entire image.

    I inherited nearly a dozen long group photos from the 1920s through 1960s, most still rolled tight and in good condition. I really wanted to flatten the photos and examine them more closely for genealogical clues to my family history. If nothing else, I thought they would look great framed and hanging on the wall.

    Fortunately, it's not difficult or expensive to relax, or re-humidify, a rolled photo or document.  When I asked Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist, if there was a safe method to flatten those old photos, she directed me to the instructions and reassured m:

    "Yes, It's Safe to Try This At Home"

    So I did.

    And it worked!

    The cracked photo shown above was curled in a series of small waves looked like a photographic washboard. Because it was already damaged, I thought it would be a good item to use in my first experiment with the rehumidification process. 

    Since then, I have successfully rehumidified and flattened many panorama photos, and some curled and brittle snapshots. Sally says that the process is also safe with documents, not just photos. Museums and archives create a similar humidification chamber when working with old documents. You don't need any fancy equipment, just a few household items and a bit of common sense about working with your family keepsakes. Here's the recommended method I used with success:

    Step-by-Step Instructions for Relaxing a Rolled Photograph

    You Will Need:
    • rolled or curled photograph
    • plastic tub or container -- deep enough to hold your rack and leave space between the rack and tub lid
    • rubber coated wire rack -- I used an expandable plate rack (you need a rack that is large enough to accommodate your item
    • water -- room temperature
    • archival blotting paper
    • wax paper or parchment paper from your kitchen (optional)

     

    Relax photo fc 1Step 1. Select Your Photograph

    For your first project, select a photo or document that is NOT a priceless heirloom. If you just want to practice this technique, you may be able to find an old rolled photo selling cheap at a thrift store. Most people throw them away (ouch) because they think they're past saving.

    Tap the print with your fingernail. Does it sound hard, like dry pasta? It should feel and sound different when the paper is dehumidified.

    Relax photo fc 2 

    Step 2. The Humidification Chamber

    Place the tub on a towel or rug on your floor in an out-of-the-way spot where you can leave it for a few days. Make sure the rack will fit inside the container and extend long enough to support your photograph. The rolled photo will start needing only a few inches of space, but as it relaxes you may want to gently help it unroll.

    Add about 2 inches of room temperature water. Do NOT use warm or hot water. You don't want  condensation on the underside of the lid that might drip down on to your photo. Use room temperature water.

    Place the rack inside the tub and place your photo on the rack. It will look lonely. 

    Relax photo fc 3

    Step 3. Close the Chamber

    Place the lid on the box and let it sit.

    Relax photo fc 4

    Step 4. Wait.

    Let everything sit there for a few hours. Get on with your life. Read a new blog.

    Relax photo fc 5

    Step 5. Check for Condensation 

    After about an hour, open the container and check  your photo. Make sure there is no moisture dripping on the photo. Feel the paper. Does it feel softer? It will probably need more time to absorb the moisture in the chamber.

    What we are doing here is making moisture available to the paper, so that it can become limber and flexible once again. You don't want too much moisture, because that can damage the print. It could also encourage the growth of mold or mildew. If you notice beads of water on the inside of the cover that could drip down on your print, wipe them off and check your print. Notice the moisture aroung the side walls of the chamber in the next photo. That's okay.

    Relax photo fc 6

    Step 6. Check Again

    After 4 or 5 hours, or overnight, check the paper again. Can you unroll it at all? You may need to do this a few times. Keep checking every few hours until the paper feels relaxed. Look at the difference between this photo and the tightly curled batons in the first step. You can feel the difference in the paper. Tap the print again with your fingernail. It should sound different; softer, more like. . . well, like paper.

    Relax photo fc 8

    Step 7. Remove Your Photo from the Chamber

    When you think the photo feels softer and flexible remove it from the box supporting it with both hands and place it on the blotting paper. Gently ease open the rolled image. If it resists or starts to crack, it needs more moisture. Return it to the humidification chamber.

    At some point the photo will have absorbed enough moisture to relax and allow you to unroll it. If the paper is still extremely brittle and hard you should probably stop and seek professional assistance. I have not experienced this situation.

    Relax photo fc 7

    At this point, your photo is relaxed. Now you need to allow it to dry as a flat print. If you have a  sheet of kitchen wax paper or kitchen paper, you can place this over the surface of the photo before folding the blotting paper over the top. It's not absolutely necessary. 

    Relax photo fc 9

    Step 8. Add Weight and Dry.

    Finally, weight down the entire photo in the blotting paper so that it dries flat. I used a heavy wooden cutting board topped with both volumes of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary  (the heaviest books on my shelves).

    Stitch gurley crop

    Step 9. Allow the Print to Completely Dry

    It may take a few days for your photograph to dry out completely. Check it occasionally. Remove the parchment paper and let the blotting paper absorb more moisture. Give it enough time to become very very flat.

    The result will be an heirloom group photograph you can scan, restore, share, frame, or use for further family history research.

    In a forthcoming post I'll show you how I scan panorama group photos with the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and with the Epson Perfection V500 and use stitching software to recreate the original long image.

     

    Disclaimer: 

    This DIY project worked for me; but I can't guarantee you will have the same results. Please use caution and good judgement, and try it at your own risk.

    Monday
    Jul082013

    How Genealogy Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement Makes Everyone a Loser

    I hate being a “loser.” But I am, and so are you. And it makes me angry.

    Last week I spent two afternoons preparing a How To article for The Family Curator. The topic was suggested by questions on Facebook and Google+, and was something I’ve had in mind for some time, “How to Relax Old Rolled Photographs.” I wanted to offer a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to tackle this do-it-yourself project.

    To create the tutorial photos, I needed to stage my process at each step. It took a few hours to get out all the materials, set up the shots and take the pictures. Next, I had to move them to my computer, resize, tag, crop, and write the article. This one blog post took two full afternoons to prepare. 

    I was ready to publish the article on The Family Curator when I read about the court decision involving a longtime website and a relative newcomer, and the discussion that followed.

    Barry Ewell eMail #30 Remember the Power of One
    “Litigation Between Cyndi’s List and MyGenShare Dismissed”

    and Comments by:

    Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

    Dear Myrtle: Is there such as thing as ethical plagiarism?

    Michael Hait: Copyright, plagiarism, and citing your sources 

    I’m a writer, first, and a genealogist second. I sell words, not research. I like blogging because it gives me a place to write, and I enjoy the response from readers. Every comment, whether at my blog or through email or Facebook is a kind of paycheck, the reward that makes me want to keep writing.

    I don’t want to earn a living blogging because I don’t want to spend my time analyzing conversion rates, SEO, campaign strategy, etc. 

    I just want to write. I write for magazines, other websites, newsletters, and all kinds of outlets, and often I am paid for the products I provide.  It may take a full week working part-time hours for me to draft, edit, create images, and send off a magazine article. Weeks later, I receive a check for the article.

    Some blog posts require more time, too, like the “How to” I’ve been working on. I have to set up materials for the photos, take the pictures, tag, resize, post to blog, write the article, and finally publish, hoping that readers find it useful (and maybe even leave a comment).

    So here’s where we all lose.

    I Lose

    As a writer and genealogy blogger I lose the claim of protected intellectual property.

    When I read about cases of plagiarism and copyright infringement where it’s unclear if an author has been able to defend his or her rights, I begin to think twice about what I write and post as free content on my own blog. After all, there is little guarantee that the same won’t happen to my content. I might turn on my computer  tomorrow and find that my “How to” article is behind a pay wall on a subscription website, or offered for sale under someone else’s name. Yes, I can demand that the material be removed, file a complaint, and state my legal rights, and I’ve done so in the past. But, the cold reality is that it keeps happening.

    If Content is King in blogging, but content cannot be protected, where does this leave the genealogy writer?

    Do we self-edit – only publishing on our blog what we are willing to lose and see appear under another by-line?

    Do we hold back “best stuff” to sell and post only reprints or non-marketable material?

    Do we spend so much time defending our intellectual property that we have less time to create new original material?

    You Lose

    We have an active and responsive genealogy blogging community. We talk to each other (a lot). But there are many more genealogists and family historians who are not bloggers and come to us for information, news, research tips, and know-how. They look for FREE first. And, that’s okay.

    If genealogy writers begin to revise their editorial practices and choice of content, where does that leave the genealogy reader?

    Less free original content

    Less free quality content

    Less content overall

    We all lose.

    Unless, writers and readers can work together to help maintain and protect intellectual property of the creators.

    Refuse to lose.

     

    • If you notice a breach of copyright on a website, PLEASE take time to notify the original author. Give the author a heads-up so they can take action to protect their work.
    • Always give credit where credit is due. Link to other blogs, use quotes, use citations, and ask permission before reposting someone else’s work, whether it’s a photo, an article, or a research conclusion.
    • Let writers know that you like the information they provide. Take time to “pay” for that free content with a quick comment, a Facebook “Like,” or Twitter RT.

     

    I’m not giving in, yet. Come back tomorrow for How to Relax Old Rolled Photos.

    Thursday
    Jul042013

    A Blog Birthday to Celebrate! Now I Am Six!

    May denise 1959 bday

    Put another candle on the birthday cake. . .

    It's hard to believe that The Family Curator is SIX this year! Was it only six years ago that I began reading Arlne's mail and fussing with old photographs? It feels like they've been part of my life forever, but have to remind myself that I didn't inherit her keepsakes until the turn of the century (this century!). 

    It was about 2000 when Arline's steamer trunk of keepsakes passed from my Aunt's care to my Mom. Auntie wanted the trunk, so Mom got the contents in cardboard boxes, and that's how the letters, photos, and all the other stuff came to me.

    The rest, as they say, is history. Which nudges me to make a few notes on the

    The History of The Family Curator Blog

    4 July 2007 -- Inspired by Thoreau selecting Independence Day as the jumping-off point for his time at Walden Pond,  I launch The Family Curator blog on 4 July 2007. Create Reading Women's Lives, high school English unit for my upper-division students using letters, documents, and photos from the Arline Allen Kinsel Papers. Begin an online journal (web-log) on Blogger to record my efforts. I discover I like blogging.

    4 July 2008 -- footnoteMaven features my classroom experience "Reading Women's Lives" at Shades of the Departed online photo magazine. My mom joins me in the search for Arline's story. I start to explore the world of FaceBook.

    2009 -- I enjoy meeting genealogy bloggers in real-time at conferences and seminars throughout the year. My new status as "retired teacher" gives me more time to blog and work with Arline's archive. The Family Curator changes blogging platforms and design moving to SquareSpace.

    2010 -- An exciting year when The Family Curator is named one of Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 Blogs. Arline's letters and photos are scanned, filed, and researched. The bottom falls off the world when my mom becomes ill, and passes away in August; my genealogy buddy is gone. 

    2011 -- Blogging is slow, but geneablogging friends are a great support this year. The Family Curator is honored to be included in the Top 40 Blogs, and a new project is in the works, a book about working with family archives. Twilter explodes; The Family Curator is there.

    2012 -- Writing, writing, writing. How to Archive Family Keepsakes, F+W Media is published. Blog redesign and update; still on SquareSpace. Now we have to track Pinterest, Facebook, Google + and Twitter. Whew!

    2013 -- So far this year, Blog Book Tour for my new book. Speaking, writing, and having a great time doing what I love -- writing about family history and family keepsakes. Stay tuned for more new projects!

    Wednesday
    Jul032013

    Lady Liberty is "At Home" July 4, 2013

    Liberty Island Reopens to Visitors

    Lady liberty

    The National Park Service has announced that the Statue of Liberty will reopen to visitors on 4 July 2013 after being closed for repairs following damage from Hurricane Sandy last fall. The grounds have been refurbished, docks rebuilt, and new exhibits mounted just in time for the summer vacation center.

    The NPS notes that due to expected high demand, visitors must make reservations and reserve tickets ahead of time. For more information, visit the National Park Service website.

    Image Credit: Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty - the illumination of New York Harbor [Bird's-eye view of the statue, harbor and fireworks], 1886, Wood Engraving after a drawing by Charles Graham, Library of Congress Library of Congress, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b32167.

    Monday
    Jul012013

    Countdown to GRIPitt Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh

    I can hardly wait to go back to school! In three weeks I will be sitting in a classroom at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh for a week-long intensive genealogy course. You could be there too!

    As of June 26, a few seats were still available in three outstanding courses:

    Intermediate Research, coordinator Paula Stuart-Warren

    Military Records, coordinator Craig R. Scott

    Writing a Quality Narrative, coordinator John Colletta

    I was a student in Paula Stuart-Warren's Intermediate Research course last summer along with over two dozen researchers with all levels of expertise. Some students were experienced in working with clients, others focused on their own family research, and many were somewhere in between. The pace was steady, absorbing, and challenging.

    2012 July 26 Intermediate class cropped

    Paula taught most of the Intermediate Research sessions, and coordinated lectures presented by Josh Taylor on several subjects. The inaugural 2012 program offered four courses; this year there will be six.

    One of the things I liked about the institute setting is the opportunity to interact with faculty and students outside of class. The collegial atmosphere in the common spaces and dining hall encourage conversation and exchange. GRIP Directors Elissa Scalise Powell and Debbie Deal were ever present and always smiling; everything ran so smoothly that it seemed like they had been running GRIP for years. 

    If you have been thinking about attending GRIP and can fit one week of outstanding genealogy education into your schedule July 21 - 26, 2013, act now and register to attend the 2013 program. Read more last year's program from attending student bloggers here; and in my posts about the week:

    Off to GRIP for Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh

    GRIP Pittsburgh Day One Recap

    GRIP Day Two: Getting Into the Groove

    Getting a GRIP on the 2012 Inaugural Session of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh

    Book Review: My Genealogy Book Purchases at GRIP

    In keeping with my goal to Learn One New Thing This Summer, I'm focusing on Mastering Genealogical Proof. I will attending Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard, coordinator Dr. Thomas W. Jones.  Training is already underway: less sleep, more stamina!

    Please stop me and say "hello" if you will be at GRIP! See you in soon!

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