02 November 2013

Photo Organization Project: Part 1

Of all the items I brought home from my parents' house, the photos are the most precious to me. Of course, I treasure the other keepsakes, too, but the photos truly represent our family's story...and my own memories. This winter I am going to organize those boxes of pictures. This is the first post in what promises to be a long and challenging process!

Bless her heart, my mom had many talents but photo organization wasn't one of them! Over the years, I had tried to organize her photos but none of my attempts "stuck". There were photos EVERYWHERE in the house, and in no semblance of order. After she passed away, my dad stashed them in even more places. So I collected photos all summer long, packing them in boxes and stacking them in the corner of my dining room until I could get a good look at them.

 I would guess that mom had at least 50 framed photos in the house, and of course each framed photo had several more tucked behind it. I kept all of the photos but very few of the frames.This eliminated some of the bulk I would have otherwise had. Still, the photos filled box after box.

 I have organized my share of photos over the years, but I will admit that I haven't faced a task quite this daunting. So I decided to follow the advice I give out in my beginners' scrapbooking classes: Start with a very ROUGH sort to begin with, then sort each of those categories in a way that makes sense to you: Chronologically, by person, event, stage in life, etc. Choose your sorting method to fit the way you'd eventually like to scrapbook the photos. I haven't yet decided which of these photos will eventually end up in the scrapbook, but regardless of what I do with them, they need to be organized!

For my very broad sort, I decided to start with a few very basic categories:
Heritage photos -- old photos of my parents and generations past
My own school and professional portraits
My daughter's school and professional portraits
Snapshots of our family taken during my lifetime

 I have started working through the boxes of photos, separating them into the categories listed above. I am especially concerned about the heritage photos. Some had paste on the backs, so I placed a piece of archival cardstock between them so they wouldn't stick to each other. In addition, the people in some of the old photos are identified, but most are not. I'm hoping I can get some help with this from older family members.

 I'm very excited to explore this box of negatives which we found in my late grandma's attic in 2004. These negatives date from the early 1900's and are in nearly perfect condition. I was very surprised about that, because the attic got very hot during the summer and very cold in the winter. This box contains some amazing images which I hope to have made into digital images and prints.

Like many people who grew up in the 1970's, my family took lots of slides. We already have a slide projector, so I sold the one my parents had and unloaded all of the carousels with help from my husband. Luckily, I had the organizational gene from an early age and had identified a lot of the slides, so I kept the indices I had created way back then and bundled up the slides in the same order. As soon as I can locate a local service, I'll have them converted to digital images and determine which ones to print. It's going to cost a lot but that's OK, because these images are the most precious keepsakes I have.
 I also found memorabilia with the photos, including my parents' graduation programs, my school report cards, and this box of beautiful postcards which belonged to my grandma. This project will be fun and easy. I'll just slip the postcards into divided sleeves so I can see the fronts and backs, then tuck them in an album for safe keeping.

 One of the treasures I re-discovered this summer was a family history written by a great aunt. It had been a very long time since I'd looked at it, and once I sat down to read it, I was completely amazed at the detail.

It's written in a very compelling fashion, full of stories, humor, and even some illustrations. It's truly a treasure. I plan to scan the pages and post them online for extended family members to access. 

Reading this history (which covers the years 1776 through 1948) inspires me to delve into genealogy. Some of our family's history has been researched so it should be relatively easy for me to find the information online. This is a topic which has always interested me, and perhaps now is the time to pursue it.

So as you can see, this photo organization project has lots of different components. Stay tuned as I tackle it little by little!

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