Thursday, 3 April 2014

Preserve your family memories this season - guest post


We all have family photos and memories stored in boxes and albums, but it is mostly not well taken care of. As an archivist I also have an extra interest in how to preserve and take care of these treasures.

Live Oak Legacies founder Kathryn Gonzales shares simple tips for organizing and preserving your priceless family stories this season.

With Easter Monday just around the corner, now is an ideal time to gather family photos and videos from your basements and attics and maybe even take a trip to your parents’ or grandparents’ homes to gather their media as well. As is the case with many precious heirlooms, these photos and recordings may be in various states of disrepair and could use some love and attention to keep from falling apart.

If you’re a mom lucky enough to have your parents or grandparents with you, we guarantee it will mean the world to show interest in preserving their memories. Furthermore, whether or not your family elders are with you, your children will be thankful to be able to access to these items when they get older. We hope that all of the original photos, documents and videos you have in your family will remain intact forever. However, should something happen to these items such that they are damaged beyond repair (flood, fire, etc.), if you take the time to digitize and protect these memories now, you’ll rest easy and avoid regret if you lose the originals.

We know you’re busy and it can be difficult to find a starting point, especially if these items fill several boxes and have never been organized. Here are a few tips to get you started.


1. REMOVE ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 60’s/70’s “MAGNETIC” ALBUMS
A great first step in protecting your family photos is removing them from the sticky albums that were especially popular a few decades ago. The adhesive used in these albums contains acid, which can have detrimental effects on your photographs. Not only does the adhesive cause yellowing, but it can also erode the photos or adhere so strongly that the photo cannot be removed from the album. Here’s a great video demonstrating the best practices for removing these photos:


2. SIFT THROUGH YOUR PHOTOS, SCAN THEM AND SAVE THE DIGITAL FILES
Decide which ones are important enough to digitize, then organize stacks by person or year. If possible, and with an acid free pencil, make note of any information you or your loved ones can remember about the photo on its back. Next, scan the photos at the highest possible resolution and save each photo to a hard drive as a .jpg file. It is best to include photo information [subject(s), date, location, etc.] in the filename itself. Then, if possible, upload those images to a service like Dropbox or Google Drive which will allow you to access your photos from anywhere and is an ideal back-up should anything happen to your hard drive or computer. We recommend storing the hard drive in a safety deposit box.

3. PLACE YOUR ORIGINAL PHOTOS IN AN ACID-FREE PHOTO STORAGE BOX
Once you have digitized your photos, place the originals in an acid-free storage box and ensure that you use acid-free folders or paper for any special photos that you wish to keep separated from the others. Place a label on the outside of the box with any helpful information about the contents of the box. Follow steps 1-3 with any other important documents or news articles you wish to back-up. Remember, once you have a digital version of the image, you can always get it reprinted if you ever lose the original.

4. GATHER YOUR HOME VIDEOS [VHS, 8MM CASSETTE] AND GET THEM DIGITIZED
Unfortunately, most people do not have the equipment necessary to properly digitize video to a format that can be converted to a DVD and stored on a hard drive or online, so this should be done by a professional. Price out services in your area, but make sure to inquire whether or not the service provider will be sending your videos overseas to be digitized. You may not wish to take that risk with your prized possessions.

Once you have your photos and videos digitized, not only will you be able to rest easier at night, but you have limitless opportunities for displaying these items in video, book or web formats so they can be shared with your family and friends now, and passed on for generations to come!


Live Oak Legacies is a family story capture service based out of the United States that specializes in gathering and preserving our senior loved ones’ most important memories. We offer digitizing services and produce legacy books, videos and private family websites. For more information or to set up a complimentary consultation, visit: www.liveoaklegacies.com or email info@liveoaklegacies.com

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