Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee will present a free webinar, Pinning Your Family History, so you can learn how to share your family photos and stories on sites like Pinterest and What Was There. Click here to register for this free webinar on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. Central Time (8:30 p.m. Eastern Time).
The “Pinning” Craze and Family History
So what is “pinning” and how does it work? For about the past year, Pinterest and other sites have come up with ways for their users to create online bulletin boards complete with posting of items you like or things you find on the Internet. There are boards for all types of professionals and hobbyists including scrapbookers, knitters, shoppers, cemetery enthusiasts, librarians and yes, even family historians!
Not only has social media taken notice of the pinning craze (and they say that someone who is addicted to pinning needs a “pintervention”), but businesses have noticed as well. Search Pinterest and other sites, and you can find boards and pins for recipes, coupons, special offers and more.
This webinar is the second in a series of upcoming educational initiatives from Flip-Pal on preserving and protecting those items that are important to your family history. The Flip-Pal mobile scanner provides an easy way to collect a digital copy of the many artifacts from the life of your ancestor. This lecture will cover tips to help you use digital images created with the Flip-Pal and share them with friends and family at popular pinning sites including Pinterest.
Pinning Your Family History will be presented by one of the leading presenters of genealogy and family history webinars: Thomas MacEntee. Thomas is the founder of GeneaBloggers.com, a community of over 3,000 family history bloggers around the world, and a nationally-known genealogy professional, author, speaker and educator. He specializes in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community.
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/288120382
[Editor’s note: Thomas MacEntee, Flip-Pal mobile scanner Ambassador, finds that society’s initial rejection of new technology is not new but quite ancient and part of human nature.]
Are you sometimes overwhelmed with technology? Do you feel pressure to keep up with the “latest and greatest” such as smartphones and tablet computers? Ever shake your head when a grandchild or younger relative seems to have a natural affinity to learn new technology?
For me, I tend to seek out new technologies because I’m what’s called an “early adopter.” But even I sometimes have to make decisions as to whether or not to use something that all the “cool kids” are using. My recommendation is that you ask your friends and colleagues for advice about a new technology, do your research as to the “good, bad and ugly,” and then determine if the technology fits with your goals and lifestyle.
Negative Views of Technology Are Not New
In a recent article, Don’t Panic! Technology Has Always Been ‘Bad’, a stroll down the “invention memory lane” illustrates that when revolutionary technologies have been introduced, society participated in collective hand wringing as to how the new invention would ruin life as it was known up to that point.
The electric light bulb, train travel and the telephone were all seen as devices of evil, and untold harm was to be found when “used as directed.” Even in modern times, social media has been seen as a pox upon the very fabric of every day human life and how we communicate and relate to each other.
And yet, we’re still here.
Is Technology Really Innocent?
Having worked in the technology field for most of my adult life (I got my start in the early 1980s when the IBM Personal Computer debuted), I’ve always held the belief that technology itself was innocent, but how people chose to use it was the deciding factor on how the technology would be viewed by society.
There are few technologies that are seen as purely evil in their intentions or that harm would be brought about if “used as directed.” Most of the questionable advances are simply “double-edged swords” that can be helpful or harmful depending upon the situation.
Why Are Some Technologies Controversial and Others Are Not?
Author Genevieve Bell has looked at a variety of technologies through the ages and has developed a working theory as to what causes a technology to induce fear and panic among society members:
- It has to change your relationship to time.
- It has to change your relationship to space.
- It has to change your relationship to other people.
Technologies such as electricity, the Internet and mobile phones were initially held up to intense scrutiny and seen as ruinous to social order since they hit upon all three “change points” listed above.
In fact, almost every technology now commonplace in modern society caused a panic when first introduced. One other factor, not mentioned by Bell, but recently highlighted by Nate Silver, is the general availability of the technology in question. Silver mentions that while the printing press appeared in 1450, it took nearly three centuries for it to have a direct impact on the general population. Some technologies were economically out of the reach of most families and it would take years or centuries for the price point to come down to where an invention could change everyday life for everyone.
The panic point of a technology isn’t reached until it reaches a minimum impact level in terms of change and the number of users.
The Flip-Pal mobile scanner: Panic-free Technology
When it comes to scanning technology, there’s much more good accomplished than harm, although some scanners can be more “friendly” than others. Wand scanners might seem convenient but aren’t recommended for use with fragile photos or documents since the intended use is to drag the scanner across the document. The same can be said for some larger flatbed scanners that use a high-intensity light source—causing photos and documents to fade prematurely.
The Flip-Pal represents what I call “approachable” technology. This means it is easy to use, doesn’t require a manual to learn its features, and allows you to start using it right away. In fact, many times I’ve simply handed my Flip-Pal to an older relative and asked them to scan a photo. Within a minute or two they’ve figured out how it works and then they want to scan more stuff! There’s no complicated software, no apprehension or fear of “breaking something.” As I see it, the Flip-Pal mobile scanner is easy to “get” meaning it is easy to understand and use right out of the box.
The Flip-Pal mobile scanner may not change your relationship to time and space, but it can change how you relate to people, especially family members and help you get connected. Take the Flip-Pal to your next family reunion or holiday event and start scanning those family photos. Not only will you be the center of attention, but everyone will also see you in your role as the family historian preserving those important family memories.
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner Ambassador Thomas MacEntee stumbles upon some old dress patterns and wonders if there is a family history story behind them.]
I’m always amazed at what I find when I go through items left behind after the passing of a family member. While I’ve been the grateful recipient of photos, letters, diaries and the standard heirlooms towards which we as family historians gravitate, some items—like old patterns for clothing—make me stop and ponder.
Family History Dwells in the Strangest Things and Places
Most folks would simply toss away these patterns and figure that they were kept as a mistake or were kept by someone who had planned to make the item shown on the outer envelope. But a keen genealogist knows that family history can dwell in the strangest places and items, including dress and clothing patterns.
Recently, as I looked at a series of such patterns by companies named Simplicity and Butterick, the “analytical genealogist” in me kept asking questions: Did my aunt or grandmother actually use the pattern or was it tucked away for a future project? Is there a photo of the finished garment somewhere? Does anyone make their own clothes anymore or is this pattern a snapshot of a thrifty practice from days gone by?
Back When Clothes Were Homemade…
There was a time in this country when making clothing for yourself and your family was commonplace. Store bought fashion was expensive and didn’t always fit properly. Sewing was a basic skill for many women and a profession for men as well: simply look at all the US census pages listing “seamstresses,” “dress makers” and “tailors.”
By the time I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, sewing patterns were usually purchased to make a Halloween costume for children, or if someone was really ambitious, bridesmaid gowns á la Gunne Sax for a thrifty wedding. With the close proximity of large discount departments stores (in the Northeast we had Ames, Caldor and Jamesway), there was no longer an incentive to make your own clothing.
So when someone did use a sewing pattern, the resulting item got noticed—whether it was a stunner or simply so hideous that it stunned the viewer. I hate to say it, but my mother’s one venture into homemade clothing for her family was a disaster and a personal embarrassment, at least to a 7-year-old boy forced to wear the creation to school. Mom’s idea of a “groovy” vest in neon green made me look more Maude than mod and after running home from school crying, I vowed never to wear it again. While I may have hurt her feelings, I had my dignity to think about.
Years later, Mom and I had some good laughs when we found not only the original pattern, but also the horrifying garment itself. She admitted that the vest was ugly as sin and she probably should have tried making less trendy fashions. At one point I turned to her and said, “Mom, you know what really would set that vest off? A match.”
Vintage Sewing Patterns with Your Family History
So what do you do with these old patterns? Here are some creative ideas on how to incorporate them into your family history research:
- Scan: Scan the other envelope of the pattern and any photos of the finished garment. Use the images for blog posts, stories or scrapbooking.
- Sleuth: Find out if the pattern was used to actually create a garment and by whom. Try to locate photos of the finished item or even the actual garment itself!
- Story: Write about the person who owned the pattern or used it. Were they an accomplished seamstress or tailor? How did they learn to sew? Was it a skill passed down from generation to generation?
- Sew: A novel idea, but what about actually using the pattern to create the vintage garment?
More on Vintage Sewing Patterns
Of course, the researcher in me just had to go and find out more about vintage sewing patterns since my knowledgebase was a bit lacking in this area. With just a simple search on Google, I found some great resources on these patterns—which have become highly collectible.
- Etsy (http://www.etsy.com) is a good source to find old patterns; in fact some vendors like PatternsFromThePast are dedicated to selling vintage sewing patterns from vendors such as Vogue, McCalls and others.
- Vintage Patterns Wiki (http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page) has over 60,000 articles covering every aspect of this type of ephemera. Articles are grouped by pattern vendor, garment type, time period…lots of fun and addictive browsing!
- Male Pattern Boldness (http://malepatternboldness.blogspot.com/) is a blog by Peter Lappin who describes himself as “sewing obsessively since 2009 and today makes all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines.”
If you didn’t get a chance to catch the live broadcast of this week’s free Flip-Pal webinar, Collecting the Fabric of a Life, presented by Flip-Pal ambassador Thomas MacEntee, don’t panic! You can now access the recording and learn the importance of scanning more than just family history-related photos and documents!
Visit http://go.flip-pal.com/the-fabric-of-a-life-webinar to view the recorded webinar. You’ll learn what types of 3-dimensional objects related to your family history can be scanned and get ideas on how to use those images. In addition, you’ll learn the best way to scan these items and then share them with family and friends.
The Fabric of a Life and Why It Matters
As family historians, how do you collect the multi-dimensional aspects of a life? By using a Flip-Pal mobile scanner you can scan the three-dimensional objects that help make up a life. So many things are available for digital scanning: lace from a delicate wedding dress, fragile documents, medals from a grandfather’s military services, jewelry inherited from a favorite aunt and more!
The fabric of a life that tells a rich and vibrant story that is not always a neat flat picture or an easy-to-record piece of data. It often comes in multiple dimensions and in layers. If we are able to capture the character of that piece of a life, it gives us far more information about the person and the time in which they lived. Scanning items related to an ancestor can provide a good copy of some hard-to-capture items. Often, these images are more clear and detailed than actual photos.
This webinar is the first in a series of upcoming educational initiatives from Flip-Pal on preserving and protecting those items that are important to your family history. The Flip- Pal® mobile scanner provides an easy way to collect a digital copy of the many artifacts from the life of your ancestor. This lecture will cover many tips to help you easily digitize and organize such things as military patches and fabrics, lace, certificates, samplers, jewelry, signs and more.
Flip-Pal ambassador Thomas MacEntee will present a free webinar, Collecting the Fabric of a Life, so you can get started on scanning different types of objects related to your family history. Click here to register for this free webinar on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. Central Time (2:00 p.m. Eastern Time).
Fabric of a Life and Why It Matters
As family historians, how do you collect the multi-dimensional aspects of a life? By using a Flip-Pal mobile scanner you can scan the 3-d parts of a life for a history. So many things are available for digital scanning: lace from a delicate wedding dress, fragile documents, medals from a grandfather’s military services, jewelry inherited from a favorite aunt, and more!
The fabric of a life that tells a more rich and vibrant story is not always a neat flat picture or an easy-to-record piece of data. It often comes in multiple dimensions and in layers. If we are able to capture the character of that piece of a life, it gives us far more information about the person and the time in which they lived. Scanning items related to an ancestor can provide a good copy of some hard-to-capture items. Often, these images are more clear and detailed than actual photos.
This webinar is the first in a series of upcoming educational initiatives from Flip-Pal on preserving and protecting those items that are important to your family history. The Flip-Pal mobile scanner provides an easy way to collect a digital copy of the many artifacts from the life of your ancestor. This lecture will cover many tips to help you easily digitize and organize such things as military patches and fabrics, lace, certificates, samplers, jewelry, signs and more.
Collecting the Fabric of a Life will be presented by one of the leading presenters of genealogy and family history webinars: Thomas MacEntee. Thomas is the founder of GeneaBloggers.com, a community of over 3,000 family history bloggers around the world, and a nationally-known genealogy professional, author, speaker and educator. He specializes in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community.
[Editor’s note: Thomas MacEntee, Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador, discusses this year’s RootsTech conference and Flip-Pal’s new Toolbox software.]
I am excited about this year’s RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, March 21-23, 2013 where I will be a speaker, an Official Blogger and an attendee. While the description on the RootsTech website gives you a clue as to the focus of the event, RootsTech is more than just a technology and genealogy conference. I like to think of it as a “genealogy happening.”
When I attended the first such event in 2011, there really hadn’t been anything like it before and I was certain I was experiencing a one-time phenomenon. I was able to connect with over 60 genealogy and family history bloggers from around the world, and I also met genealogy product vendors like the Flip-Pal mobile scanner team.
Ask anyone who has attended the past two RootsTech events and you’ll understand that there is a certain “vibe” which can’t easily be described. Perhaps as someone who follows the genealogy industry both from a personal and professional perspective, I have a different sense for what RootsTech is and what it isn’t.
I do know that it isn’t your typical genealogy conference, mainly due to its focus on technology. I also know that there is a serious commitment to finding solutions via technology—solutions that can expand the typical genealogy experience. As I’ve said before, the basic fundamentals of genealogical research remain unchanged but the tools we use to conduct that research are constantly changing before our eyes. At RootsTech, attendees will learn about the latest tools and also what the future will bring for family historians.
Visit the Flip-Pal Team at Booth #328
This year, Flip-Pal will once again be attending RootsTech at the Salt Palace Convention Center and helping attendees understand why preserving family photos and documents is an important part of genealogy.
RootsTech brings “technologists together with genealogists to find solutions to the challenges of genealogy research,” and in that manner a presence by Flip-Pal is a perfect fit. During the three-day conference, members of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner team will demonstrate the benefits of using the new Flip-Pal Software and Flip-Pal Toolbox in booth # 328.
New Flip-Pal Software
You read that right: there is a new Flip-Pal Software 2, which comes with a new, intuitive interface featuring web-like navigation. When using the Flip-Pal EasyStitch software to “stitch” scans of large originals, users now find images that are larger and easier to view. In addition, the new software makes scans easy to share and upload to the web, while the new “Community” page allows users to connect with other Flip-Pal mobile scanner owners, partners, videos and more. And with the Flip-Pal Software 2, users can easily get the latest changes in Flip-Pal tools and software with a single button.
Flip-Pal Events at RootsTech
You won’t want to miss these Flip-Pal events if you are attending RootsTech:
- Diane Miller, Flip-Pal mobile scanner genealogy expert, will demonstrate the new Flip-Pal Software 2 and Flip-Pal Toolbox 2 design at the Demo Theater in the Exhibit Hall on Thursday at 4:20 p.m.
- At 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, Thomas MacEntee, Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador, will present “Collecting the Fabric of Life – Scanning in 3D,” in Room 255B.
See You at RootsTech!
RootsTech has become a “once a year” industry event for me and I look forward to each occurrence with anticipation. I know I will always discover new ideas and be able to share them with other technology users who also happen to be genealogists and family historians.
Don’t forget to stop by booth #328 and talk with the Flip-Pal team. If you can’t attend this year’s RootsTech, please visit http://flip-pal.com/customer-care and click on the “Downloads” tab for more information about the new Flip-Pal Software 2 and how Flip-Pal customers can update their Toolbox software.
[Editor’s note: Diane Miller, Flip-Pal mobile scanner team member, shows how she has incorporated the story of an heirloom quilt into her family history.
Flip-Pal mobile scanner is a proud sponsor of the Houstory Online Scavenger Hunt, which runs March 4-10, 2013. As a scavenger hunter, you will need to find the "clue" hidden in the Heirloom Registry record. (Hint: You'll find code to unlock the record on the Heirloom Registry site in this article!).]
Recently I registered our family’s 128-year-old quilt using The Heirloom Registry™, which is a new product from Houstory®. This online registry allows users to not only track their family heirlooms, but also preserve and share the stories behind those precious items.
Every Heirloom Has a Backstory
When my sister became a snowbird, flying between Arizona and Washington State, she put a beautiful heirloom quilt (shown above) into my safekeeping with instructions to secure it in a fabric, not plastic, covering. It continues to reside with me as an honored ancestral artifact until it is ready to be passed along to other descendants of its fine seamstress.
I remember seeing this quilt around my family home while I was growing up. It was folded neatly and placed in the cedar chest with other woolen and fabric family treasures. As a little girl I would take it out of its secure hiding spot and stroke the soft brocades and rich velvets that made up the quilt. I would imagine what it would be like to have this colorful quilt on my bed to keep me warm in the cold Montana winters. But it wasn’t to be!
It was quite a few years later when it was placed in the safekeeping of my older sister, the quilter of the family. At that point I finally asked my mother where it came from and who made it.
Why Did Grampa Have the Quilt?
My mother told me this story: “Your grandfather’s mother, my grandmother, sewed that quilt while she was carrying your grandfather.” (That would have been around 1885 in Chicago.) I asked, “Where did they get such beautiful velvets and brocades?”
She continued, “It is made from scrap pieces of upholstery fabric. I was probably named after her since her name was Agnes - Agnes (McComb) Caley. They moved from the Chicago area where they had a butcher shop to start a homestead in Montana around 1904. I guess she gave it to your grandfather as she aged. Then, as we consolidated your grandfather’s possessions when he moved to the nursing home, he gave it to me.”
Genealogy Sleuth: Researching a Family Quilt
With that information I had a better understanding as to who made the quilt and the approximate time period of its creation. Through my research I was able to find two McComb women in the Chicago directories for 1880 and 1885. They were listed as working with “notions” and “worsteds” and I suspect that they were related—however, I have not been able to verify this information.
One important clue: the quilt is machine sewn, which I was surprised to discover since it was created during the early days of sewing machines. It would have been sewn on a vintage treadle machine, perhaps one similar to the 1885 model pictured below.
A historical Singer sewing machine. Photo by Thomas Gozdziewicz, 2004.
The quilt was not created using a set pattern; instead it is made from odd rectangles of vivid upholstery velvets and brocades. While it is starting to show its age, it only gets softer and more beautiful with time. Yes, a few pieces are frayed, but it wears that badge of age with pride.
Documenting the Quilt’s Story
For a Christmas project and webinar in October 2012, (www.flip-pal.com/blog/Creating-Great-Family-Photo-Gifts-with-the-Flip-Pal-mobile-scanner) I created a cotton label describing the quilt’s history following these easy steps:
- Purchase inkjet fabric (backed so it will go through the printer) at a fabric or hobby store.
- Select a photo to scan for a label. I chose one of the quilter and her husband (shown above). Lucky for me the photo even had fancy designs on the edges!
- Use photo editing software such as Photoshop Elements to add text about the history of the quilt.
- Print the label on the treated cotton using an ink jet printer.
- Process the label according to the directions on the package to ensure that it remains age-safe and colorfast.
- Blind-stitch the label to the quilt for future generations of Caleys to enjoy.
Adding Heirloom Registry Labels to the Mix
When I received a selection of Heirloom Registry labels, I was not sure how to attach them to the quilt so they would in fact stay secure to the quilt. So I used a label suggested for furniture: a metal label with two holes that would normally be attached via small nails or screws to a piece of furniture. Instead, I used a button stitch to attach the Heirloom Registry label to the quilt label.
With the Heirloom Registry web page, I can continue to include the most recent history of the quilt. I can also document its many stories as well as how it has been put to use. The quilt has served as a backdrop for many photos on the Flip-Pal website, it has been included in a recent webinar and it even did duty in a Money magazine photo shoot! The quilt makes a rich background for photos and now its history adds to that richness—a history that I’m very proud to share.
Don’t Miss the Houstory Online Scavenger Hunt!
Flip-Pal mobile scanner is a proud sponsor of the Houstory Online Scavenger Hunt. As a scavenger hunter, you will need to find the “clue” hidden in the Heirloom Registry record listed below.
- If you’d like to start the scavenger hunt now—first go to The Houstory Hearth blog’s special Scavenger Hunt Page. There you’ll find information about the hunt, the prizes and most importantly, the list of the other three blogs you’ll need to visit today.
- If you already know what you’re doing, here’s the Heirloom Registry ID Code you will need to obtain the secret word: JEBB 161-969-7239-2012.
- If this is your final stop for Hunt No. 2, be sure to submit your entry form with your secret words by 11:59 p.m. PST, Thursday, March 7, 2013. Instructions for Hunt No. 3 will be posted at the Houstory Hearth at 12:00 a.m. EST on March 8. Good luck and happy hunting!
[Editor’s note: Thomas MacEntee, Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador, discusses the history and importance of funeral cards for genealogy research and shows ways to share the digitized images with family members and the public.]
One of the more precious discoveries that I’ve come across when cleaning out a loved one’s home after they’ve passed away is an envelope of interesting “cards” which were given out by a funeral home or mortuary.
Measuring about 2.5 inches wide and up to 4.5 inches long, one side would have a colorful, yet peaceful image of a religious symbol or figure or even a landscape. The other side of the card would contain details about the deceased and sometimes even a photo.
Known as “memorial cards” or “funeral cards,” many of us are sitting on just such a collection—and often wondering how we can incorporate these mementos into our family history research.
A Brief History of Funeral Cards
Color lithography became popular starting in the 1890s and this process allowed printed materials with vibrant graphics to be produced inexpensively and in mass quantities. A variety of advertisers began producing cards with different images on small pieces of card stock.
Funeral home directors discovered that creating memorial cards to be given away to family and friends of the deceased was a tasteful way of advertising their services. It also gave the mourners a way to remember the person who had passed on.
The cards were much more popular with Roman Catholics than Protestants, mainly due to the tradition of incorporating images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and a panoply of saints into daily worship. Non-Catholic funeral cards often had an image of the deceased or a landscape scene in place of religious iconography.
On the reverse would be printed the name of the decedent, birth and death dates and sometimes even more information, such as birth and death locations. In addition, a Bible verse, a prayer or a poem would also appear on the reserve as well.
How were these mementos used? I remember seeing them all over my great-grandmothers house—some were tucked in the corner of a dresser mirror, others had been laminated and were used as book marks and still others were mounted in a scrap book or photo album with black corners so they could be removed and cherished.
Scanning Funeral Cards
Funeral cards are a perfect item to scan using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner—and the process goes pretty quickly! Here are some tips and tricks I’ve discovered when scanning funeral cards:
- Use the highest possible resolution when scanning. This means 600dpi on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner. My thinking is that if I scan at a lower resolution, I might later need to “rescan” at the higher resolution if I don’t like the results.
- Scan more than one card if possible. In the example above, I was able to fit two cards on the Flip-Pal scanning glass. Once I’m finished scanning, I can use photo-editing software to split the single scan into two separate images. This saves time and makes the scanning process much quicker!
- Save a master digital image. This means making a digital copy of the scanned image and adding the word “master” to the file name. This file is never edited in any way that could change the resolution or quality of the image. I always work with the copy to make edits. This way if I make a mistake, I can always go back to the master image and start over.
Ways You Can Use Scanned Funeral Cards
Once you’ve scanned the funeral cards using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, there are many uses for the digitized images:
- Create an online album. Use a program such as Google Photos, Picasa or even Facebook to upload the images and share them with family members. Or perhaps you just want a place to secure the digitized images as a backup. Use can use these same programs or a cloud storage site such as Dropbox.
There are even Pinterest boards dedicated to collections and types of funeral cards.
- Add them to your genealogy database. Many genealogy database programs such as Family Tree Maker or online sites such as WikiTree, allow you to upload digital images and associate them with someone in your research data.
- Build an online memorial. One way to remember a loved one is to incorporate the funeral card into an online memorial. Some funeral homes offer a virtual guest book as an option and may have already uploaded the image of the card. You can also write a blog post and add the image of the funeral card.
- Let them bring back memories. Use funeral cards the way our family members did: tuck them into mirror corners, place them in a small frame or a photo collage frame, or mount them in a scrapbook.
If you are wondering how you would “cite” a funeral card as a source as part of your research, read my article How to Cite a Funeral Card.
* * *
Although funeral cards are a sad remembrance of someone’s passing, they are an important part of family history and should be preserved for future generations. Make sure they are stored using standard archival practices in a safe place, but also scan those funeral cards so you will always have a digital image as well.
[Editor’s note: Thomas MacEntee, Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador, provides an update on photos rescued in Union Beach, New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy and shares tips on how to save photos damaged by water-related mishaps.]
Have you ever experienced a situation such as a flood or a burst pipe that damaged not only your household goods, but also your family photos? As many readers might remember, since November Flip-Pal Cares has been assisting residents of Union Beach, New Jersey in their efforts to recover water damaged photos in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Photo Recovery Progress in Union Beach, New Jersey
With Flip-Pal mobile scanners in hand, Union Beach resident Jeanette Van Houten and personal historian Mary Danielsen are continuing to lead a massive photo scanning drive that has already resulted in the recovery of over 20,000 pictures. These photographs were collected from local beaches, wetlands and devastated homes and then were cleaned, scanned and posted on https://www.facebook.com/groups/391552050924511/.
“Over 100 families have already identified pictures that they thought were gone forever,” said Danielsen. “We’ve been able to catalog the original pictures in binders, and in many cases, cluster photos of persons found in more than one location.”
Representatives of Flip-Pal Cares, along with a local Boy Scout troop, the Union Beach City Council and members of the public added to the 800 volunteer hours Van Houten and Danielsen have already volunteered. “There are still over 5,000 pictures to scan and post, but we are not far from capturing all of the memories that would have been lost. What’s made the difference in our progress are the volunteer efforts, the use of the Flip-Pal mobile scanners and cash donations we’ve received to cover our costs. Even when there was no electricity, the battery powered Flip-Pal’s got us operating immediately after the storm,” added Danielsen.
“We are honored to support the Superstorm Sandy survivors in gathering their pictures, helping reconstruct the past, and move to the future,” commented Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Couragent, makers of Flip-Pal mobile scanner. For those wanting to make a donation to this project, the fundraising site for Restoring Union Beach memories is located at http://www.gofundme.com/1k3w9c.
Rescuing Water Damaged Photos
What if your own photos were to suffer water damage? Would you know where to start in terms of salvaging the images and preventing further deterioration and damage?
Flip-Pal has developed the Rescuing Water Damaged Photos e-guide which is now available for FREE. Filled with useful tips and advice, the guide covers many areas of photo recovery and preservation:
- How to prioritize and organize images
- Practicing safety in case of moldy photos
- General cleaning practices
- How freezing photos can help save images
- Drying cleaned photos
- Scanning and other preventative measures
In addition, you’ll find a resource list with over 12 links to websites and documents to learn more about handling water damaged photos.
Be Proactive About Saving Your Family Photos
The best way to protect your precious photos of weddings, children, holidays and more is to be prepared! One way is to download Rescuing Water Damaged Photos and review the procedures today. Then consider scanning all your photos now using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner so you have digital copies of years’ worth of memories.
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee highlights some seemingly insignificant items you may have in your family archives and why they matter to your family history.]
As family historians, we tend to handle quite a bit of paper in the form of vital records, photographs and documents. If we are lucky, we also get to peruse family Bible pages, letters and diaries of our ancestors. But is there so much emphasis on the “important” stuff that we neglect other items such as souvenir books, postcards, brochures and the like?
In order to get the entire picture of our ancestors, we need to be on the lookout for items that to the ordinary eye may seem just that—ordinary. Yet if they were only ordinary, why did your family set them aside and hold on to them all these years?
Ephemera: Not So Fleeting
Unless your ancestor was a hoarder or pack rat, most likely they collected certain pieces of ephemera because they related to a place visited, an important event in history, or they brought back memories.
Ephemera is the term used to described items that were intended to exist or to be enjoyed for a short period of time. When it comes to printed materials we’re talking post cards, brochures, souvenir books, ribbons and other items. Some were used at events such as a board meeting or a church social. Others are more commemorative in nature and were given out at big events like the World’s Fair or a presidential inauguration.
At the time of issuance, the thought was that the recipient would simply consume the information and then discard it in the trash. However many people would save these paper items since they served as markers or touchstones in one’s life. Years later, when pulled out of a dusty place or a box, the collector could relate how they acquired the item, the event involved, who was there, etc. Ephemera serve as great story generators!
How Does Ephemera Help My Research?
What is obvious when you look at the postcards, pamphlets and other items, is that these meant something to someone at one time. They were important enough to warrant preserving with other collectibles, photos and documents. The not so obvious is why they mattered.
That’s part of your challenge as a family history researcher: to research the item itself, then look at your genealogy data and place the item in context. Only then can you really start to understand why it was saved, rather than not disposed of as originally intended.
What we’re talking about here is a variation on collateral research. Collateral research is the process of looking at all the in-laws, friends, neighbors and others who impacted an ancestor’s life to gain more information about your direct ancestors. Here are some ways to better understand how a piece of ephemera could relate to your family history:
- Scan the ephemera right away, especially if it is fragile. Then preserve the original.
- Find a date for the item and any information related to the place and the publisher.
- Note the event related to the ephemera if there is no date. Then do your research on that event.
- Look at letters, diaries and postcards from your ancestors and see if they mention the event or visiting the location related to the ephemera.
- Show the scanned image to family and friends who may remember the event or location or might recall a story that someone in the family told about the event or location.
With enough sleuthing you can connect the dots and not only find out why the piece of ephemera was produced, but also why your family held on to it!
To get a better idea of how ephemera factors into family history research, look at the articles available at The In-Depth Genealogist or at Gena’s Genealogy, where Gena Philibert Ortega shares her own ephemera finds and helps you look for more around the house and in your family’s archives. There are even pinned ephemera images over at Pinterest.
Souvenir of Lowville and My Austin Ancestors
With my own research, I discovered a copy of Souvenir of Lowville that I’ve written about at my blog. This 18-page booklet, printed in 1895, was among my great-grandmother Therese McGinnes Austin’s items that I inherited. You can see high-resolution images of the booklet using the link here.
While I could have easily just viewed Souvenir of Lowville on my own or shared it with family, I went a few steps further. I knew this was a great find and could help other researchers with ancestors in Lowville. So I scanned the pages (this was on a flatbed scanner before the Flip-Pal mobile scanner was invented) and then shared them on my blog. I also contacted the local GenWeb site for Lewis County, New York and allowed them to post the images on their site.
Since the booklet was published in 1895, I knew that it was no longer protected by copyright and could be shared. I also realized that I could not simply let it sit in a box or an envelope. By bringing it to light on the Internet, I’ve given it a second chance and extended its life of appreciation far beyond what the original publishers had intended.
Find That Ephemera and Let It Speak!
Now that you have a better understanding of what to look for, go find the ephemera that your family collected. Scan it, catalog it and then research it. Each item has a story to tell and it won’t do that all by itself. It needs a voice coach. It needs you.