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    Quick Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

    Look here first for answers to your questions about preserving and digitizing your family keepsakes. If you don't find what you need, please feel free to leave your question at the Family Curator Forum.

    What is the best way to store a keepsake marriage certificate?

    If you are working on your family history or genealogy, you will want to use information from original vital records and other documents in your own research. Minimize handling of your original documents by scanning and using digital images for transcribing and research. After scanning, preserve your keepsake marriage certificate by placing it in an archival file folder inside an archival vertical file box or an archival drop-front box. Avoid filing original historic documents with your regular genealogy files; instead, file a printout or copy with your other documentation.

    What settings, including dpi, should I use for scanning old letters and documents?

    The museum standard of 300 dpi should be a good resolution for most uses. Scan in the TIFF archive format, using 24-bit color. Convert the file to JPG and use the JPG copy for transcribing and other projects. Keep the TIFF file as a Master Digital Copy to replace the original document in the event of loss of damage.

    TIFF is an archival file format that is loss-less and preserves more digital information than JPG file format, and is widely recommended by archives and museums for digitizing historic documents. 

    What settings are best for scanning photos?

    The museum standard of 600 dpi is adequate for most family history projects. Set your scanner for 24-bit color, 600 dpi. You may want to increase the dpi to 1200 dpi in some situations:

    • a photo that needs restoration or repair 
    • a very small photo 
    • a cased image such as a tintype, daguerrotype, or ambrotype
    • a group photo that includes people or items you want to enlarge  

    How do I scan something too big to fit on my flatbed scanner?

    To scan oversize photos or documents. . .

    You have a few different options, depending on the item's condition.

    1. If the item is already folded, you can scan it in sections and recreate the larger image using special stitching software. Be very careful not to damage the document of photo by handling it and positioning in the scanner.

    2. Another method is to place the item on a flat surface and scan it in sections using a portable flat-bed scanner like the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner. This scanner allows you to remove the cover and see through the glass flat bed to position the screen. The included stitching software will reassemble the full image.

    3. The fastest, and easiest method to digitize a large item is to place it on a flat surface and use a digital camera to photograph the full image. A tripod will help stabilize the camera to achieve the best results.

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