It seems like there a lot of apps over the last few years that tout they can take high-quality photos of old photos and that you don't need to use a scanner. I personally have never liked those apps, for archiving photos. They are fine if you simply want to quickly share a photo with a cousin or family member, but for archiving and preserving old family photographs or documents I still prefer to use a professional scanner.
Earlier today a group of genealogists had a fun Clubhouse chat about scanning and preserving old photos. My new friend, Melissa, is incredible at knowing all of the methods of preserving, sharing, and backing up your photos. Together we hosted this fun hour and a half long chat about photos! During the conversation we talked about different types of scanners, including using your phone to 'scan' the photos. After the chat I created a list of my recommendations of scanners that are good for digitizing your genealogy photos and files.
As I said earlier, I personally have never been a fan of using my phone for digitizing my old family photos that I want to archive. I just haven't felt like they capture as good of quality as a flatbed scanner. However, I also came across a scenario today where my camera was actually able to capture a better quality image than my scanner!
Before I talk about the specific example, here's a little background info: my grandfather recently passed away, and I inherited ALL of his genealogy research, documents, photos, etc. He did a ton of genealogy back in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. All of his stuff was in paper format, including a bunch of family group sheets that he added photos of the individuals. Here is an example of one of those family group sheets.
When I initially scanned it, using a traditional flatbed scanner, it look pretty good. The main thing I wanted to capture from scanning this was each person's photo. I haven't seen most of the photos included here. After I scanned it, I zoomed in to some of the photos and I was quickly disappointed in what each one looked like close-up.
Most of the photos seemed to lose quality during the scan compared to when I just looked at the paper itself. I tried to adjust several settings on the scanner, including the dpi, but nothing made the photos look better.
I think what happened is these photos were photocopies (done in the 80s) of already small photos, and then getting copied onto cheap paper (using an old photo copier). Then, when I scanned them using the flatbed scanner, it made the quality even worse... I think the ink on the paper and the scanner light didn't play nice together - I am not 100% sure why that would happen. I'm sure there are other photo/scanning experts out there that could give a better explanation than me.
I then had the thought to take a picture of the family group sheet with my phone to see if that looked better.
I think the photos using my phone actually turned out quite well! Here are some comparisons side-by-side.
Not only do the photos taken with my phone look less-pixelated but I also think it captures more of the texture and shadows from the original photo.
Again, I am not completely sure why the scanned copies look so grainy and pixelated, but I am much happier with the copies that my phone took.
So, while I am still not convinced that these photo scanning apps are great for archiving and preserving all photos, I did find a great use for it! The next time you try to scan photocopies of photographs, or even documents, and you notice it makes it look grainy and pixelated, try using your phone camera instead and see if that gives you a better quality image.
Here are a couple of other tips I found when using my phone:
What are your thoughts? What are your scanning methods and techniques? Did you find this helpful? Leave a comment below to let me know!
On Friday we headed down to Sanpete County, Utah, to visit some cemeteries. I had never been down there (from what I can remember) and so it was a special day.
We went to Fountain Green, Moroni, and Manti.
Over the next several days I will post some photos of the headstone I captured along with some other photos and details about some of my ancestors who are buried in those cemeteries.
William Rowsell was born 1 November 1843 in Crewkerne, Somerset, England. He was the son of Douglas Rowsell and Ann Cleal.
William was baptized in the parish church in Crewkerne on 26 November 1843. As with most people in England at the time, his family were members of the Church of England.
Williamâs parents died when he was quite young, leaving him to the care of himself and likely neighbors in town. By 1861 both of his parents had died and he was living a man named Henry Diamond and his family. William was 17 years old and worked for Henry weaving woolen webs. Crewkerne specialized in webbing and sailcloth. The textile industry expanded and William was part of this major industry in Crewkerne.
In the summer of 1863 William began meeting with missionaries from the Mormon Church and on 12 August 1863 he was baptized into their church.
One of his fellow boarders and coworkers in 1861 was Mercy Webber. They were both living with Henry Diamondâs family. Mercy became familiar with the Mormon Church and was baptized before William.
On Christmas Day 1864 William and Mercy were married in Bourton, Dorset, England. Although they had both joined the Mormon Church, they likely had to get married in the parish church for legal reasons.
William and Mercy had two children: Rosina Rowsell was born 18 September 1865 in Bourton, and William Douglas Rowsell was born about 1870, likely in Crewkerne. By the time William Douglas was born they likely either could not baptize him into the Church of England, or they refused to because of their beliefs in the Mormon Church. No baptismal record for William Douglas in the Church of England has been found.
By the summer of 1873 William and his family decided to join other Mormons in Utah. They packed up all that they could take and left England. They sailed on the passenger ship, Nevada, and arrived in New York City on 23 July 1873. They continued their way west towards Salt Lake City.
Shortly after they settled in Utah, Mercy became sick and died on 2 May 1874. William was left with two young children.
On 15 February 1875 William married Grace Lye in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. William and Grace had known each other in England, as they had both joined the Mormon Church there and worshiped together in Crewkerne.
Together, William and Grace had 12 children. The fourth oldest child was my great-great grandfather, Walter Rowsell. Walter was born 18 November 1879 in Richmond, Cache County, Utah Territory.
William became a U.S. citizen on 6 September 1882 in Richmond. By 1900 William and his family moved from northern Utah back to the Salt Lake valley. William spent much of the remainder of his life in West Jordan, Salt Lake County.
He died on 2 July 1916 in Salt Lake City. He was 72 years old. He dies from cancer of the stomach. He was buried on 5 July 1916 in West Jordan City Cemetery.
In the last post I introduced you to Trello, an online tool to organize just about anything. In this post I will show you a great place to look for inspiration on how you can use Trello, including my own inspiration board.
What is the best way to use Trello?
Some of my friends have asked me how Trello is "supposed" to be used. I have also had people ask me the "best" way of using Trello. My response to both of those questions is this:
In the previous post I shared a link to Trello's Getting Started Guide. I hope you went through that because it should have answered your most basic questions on how to create boards, cards, labels, and collaboration.
How do others use Trello?
I can't tell you how every person uses Trello, but they an incredible library of boards that users like you and me have created where others can get inspiration. I check out this library all time to see how people are using it and to get inspiration on how I can modify my boards or improve my processes.
I have yet to see any boards on the inspiration page specifically related to genealogy, so I created my own (and even submitted it to be featured in their inspiration library).
My Trello Inspiration
My first inspiration board I have created (I have several ideas for more ways to use Trello for genealogy) is focused around main research/to-do items.
As I mentioned in the previous post, for years I have looked for a good way to keep various items organized in my research including my to-do items. Many of the genealogy programs have to-do lists, but none of them met my needs or gave me the ability to see the "big picture" of the status of my research.
Let's take a look at my inspiration board and go into details of how I use each List on the board. Click on the board screenshot or button below to see the board. Be sure to come back here and read more details below about the board setup.
Now that you have taken a look at the board, let's dive deeper into the details of each List and how I use this board.
In this genealogy board, I mainly use it to keep track of all my “to-dos,” projects, and goals. Any genealogist, whether professional or hobbyist, will tell you that genealogy is a never-ending journey. Once you get your feet wet, the next thing you know is you are swimming in the deep end. Using Trello helps me make sure I don’t sink in the deep end with the items I am working on.
My board is set up using the Kanban method, going from left-to-right and showing the progress of my tasks and projects. Below is an overview of each list in my board and how I use it:
Board Information/How to Use
The first list on this board is a section on “how to use this board.” I briefly describe my genealogy organization (some might call it OCD), and how I use Trello labels. I have a completely separate board just for my organization standards such as filing methods, document naming standards, and how I name my photos.
The next list is my backlog. I have included a couple examples of actual items in my backlog, but my actual board has dozens of items. Every genealogist has a list of people and places they want to research and there just isn’t enough time in the day (or night) to focus on it all at once. Whenever I have a new idea like creating a slideshow or coffee table book, I add it to my backlog. I then prioritize which items I want to work on in my backlog by sorting the cards with the items I want to work on first at the top of the list.
This list is for items that I know I will work on in the near future. If I have something in my backlog that I want to “schedule” to work on soon, I’ll move it over to the Near Future list. If I find a bunch of items I want to obtain at the Family History Library (FHL) or other archive that I will be visiting soon, I will move those cards to this list (from my FHL Records list, which I describe more below). I try not to have items in this list that are more than a couple weeks out.
If today is the day I am going to the Family History Library, I will move those cards to the Today list - this makes it so I can focus on just the items in Today and not worry about anything else.
In Progress (Long Term)
This list is for items that will take longer than a day or two to complete. When I go to the Family History Library I can usually pull all the microfilms I need in a single visit, but when I have projects like coffee table books, slideshows, or transcribing hand-written documents, those could take days, weeks, or even months. This list is a good place to put those items since they will take me a while to complete.
FHL Records (to get)
Like many genealogists, I constantly find indexes to records that are available on microfilm or online at the Family History Library. Even though I am 20 minutes away from the library in downtown Salt Lake City, I don’t make it there on a weekly basis. So, when I find indexes to records I want to obtain I create a card for each record, along with the index details, microfilm number, and any other information I may need to quickly find that record at the library. This list is my “backlog” of records specific to the Family History Library. Once I plan my trip to the library and decide which items to obtain there, I will move the cards to my Near Future list. And then the day of my library visit I will move the cards to Today.
Records to Order
This list is very similar to my FHL Records list, but these are records that I need to obtain from some other repository other than the Family History Library. Not all genealogy records are online. In fact, most of them are still in paper format in archives, libraries, and other buildings across the world. In order to be thorough in my research, I want to make sure I find all of the necessary documentation to prove relationships, break down brick walls, and discover fascinating stories about my ancestors. Many of those records are found in these other repositories. Just like my FHL Records list, I usually create a separate card for each record, microfilm, or data set I need.
I hope my inspiration board and this post has helped you learn a bit more about how you could use Trello for your genealogy research.
Stay tuned for more posts about Trello.
Did you like this post? Let me know below what you did or didn't like, or if you have any questions on how to use Trello.
One of the questions I hear most from genealogists is "how do you organize your genealogy and keep track of your to-do items?" There are many genealogy programs out there that help you build your family tree, but I have yet to find one program that 'does it all' for me. There are many great features in each program, but none of them have all of the features that I personally need or want - so therefore I use a number of tools to keep my genealogy research up-to-date and organized. One of those tools for me is called Trello.
What is Trello?
Let's take a look at Trello and walk you through the main components and how they work. The three main components of Trello are Boards, Lists, and Cards. When you first create your free Trello account, the first thing you need to do is create a Board.
I could continue to go into every detail about Trello basics, but why reinvent the wheel when Trello has done an amazing job at creating a Getting Started Guide? Check out the guide below, and in future posts I will go into details about how exactly I use Trello for my genealogy research.
In my next post I will introduce you to a library of Trello boards that you can get inspiration for organizing just about anything, including my own inspiration board to help you know how I use Trello for my genealogy research.
A.C. Ivory is a professional genealogist, blogger, product manager, ux designer, computer geek, and traveler.
Do you love old photos? If so, check out my other site, Forsaken Photos!