[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.”
[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.
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee gets ready for a Christmas visit with family members and shares his preparations to collect family history information.]
With Christmas fast approaching, I’m looking forward to spending time with family and talking about our relatives who have passed on. We’ll share stories, trade cherished recipes, and the best part: show off photos in albums and scrapbooks.
Do you have plans to take advantage of this exchange of information? Are you ready to be a collector – an active participant – rather than a witness?
Holidays and Family History: A Perfect Match
I’m not sure about you, but when my family gets together for any holiday, it serves as not only an instant “family reunion,” but it is my cue as the family historian to get busy. This means asking the questions about “who, what, and where” in reference to my ancestors.
And the process never feels forced nor have I ever had anyone say, “Oh here we go with the genealogy questions again!” I let the conversations flow naturally and go where they need to go. But my role is to try and guide it towards certain areas that others will find interesting.
The key word here is “seamlessly” and that is how it all works. Sort of like scanning a large photo in sections with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and “stitching” it together in a snap!
Bring Collecting Tools With You
I am never without my “kit” as family members call it:
- Blank family group sheets to be filled out either in paper format or a link to an online version I keep stored in Google Docs.
- My business card with my contact information. Someone will often remember facets of a story or details about a person when they return home so they need a way to contact me. Create a “family history” card listing your blog and website if you have one and on the reverse list the surnames you are researching.
- A copy of the family history that I’ve self-published. It can be a photo book, or even just a print out of a PDF document for my family to look at. You never know what’s going to serve as the spark of inspiration for the new genealogist in the family!
- Access to my research database at Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, WikiTree or any of the other services at my disposal. I use a Smartphone app if it is available or I have software such as Legacy Family Tree installed on my laptop which also travels with me.
- A scanner – the Flip-Pal mobile scanner – of course! The biggest benefit is the ability to scan photos at a family member’s house without having to remove them from the house or even the photo album!
One other tip: If you are currently a Flip-Pal affiliate, make sure you have either a flyer or a card with your affiliate link available. In many encounters with friends and family, someone will see me using the Flip-Pal and want to purchase their own or purchase one for someone else. Make it easy for them to order through your affiliate link!
Family Reunions Can Be Virtual Too!
What if you aren’t able to be with all your family members this holiday season? Don’t forget that reunions can now take place virtually and “on-line” with tools such as Facebook and Skype. See last week’s post A Virtual Family Photo Reunion Using Social Media here at the Flip-Pal genealogy blog to learn how you can connect with cousins and share information.
The photo of my great-grandmother, Frances Pressner at the top of this article is an example of what my cousins recently shared with me through one such reunion. I’m so fortunate that my family can take advantage of technology and bridge the miles between us as we all focus on our family history.
And If You Don’t Get a Flip-Pal for Christmas . . .
Hopefully you already have a Flip-Pal mobile scanner that you use for collecting family history-related photos and documents. Or perhaps you’ve asked for a Flip-Pal as a gift for Christmas?
If you don’t find a Flip-Pal mobile scanner under the tree this year, remember there’s a great After Christmas Sale coming up at the Flip-Pal website starting December 26th!
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee shares his recent experience posting family photos on Facebook and the reaction from cousins he’s never even met.]
Recently, I was searching for additional photos of my great-grandparents, Richard Henneberg (1888-1941) and Frances Pressner (1889-1960). After a thorough search of my own images, I knew what I had to do: reach out to my cousins and ask if they had anything they could scan and send to me via email or post on Facebook.
Now it might seem odd that I didn’t just wait until the next time I saw these cousins, but I have a confession: I have many cousins that I’ve never met in person. We have built a great relationship via social media, namely Facebook, and all because of a few family photos that were scanned and shared online.
What a Photo Can Do
The photo above was taken about 1931 and shows all seven sons of Elmer A. MacEntee, another great-grandfather, in birth order. John W. MacEntee (1901-1984), Harold MacEntee (1906-1979), Myron MacEntee (1907-1981), George MacEntee (1909-1965), William E. MacEntee (1925-1987), Elmer J. MacEntee (1911-1971) and Abraham MacEntee (1913-1977), who was my grandfather. I’ve never seen the original nor have I held it in my hand, but it was sent to me by a MacEntee cousin who I was able to find on Facebook several years ago. Again, we’ve never met face to face…yet.
While I could have simply printed out the photo or saved it with my other genealogy research, I took the extra step of posting it in a virtual family photo album. Why? Not only did I think that there would be other cousins who had never seen the picture, but I also believed that the image could serve as “cousin bait,” as well as start a conversation about those ancestors.
So I created a simple album entitled “Ancestors” and periodically I would upload an image or two. Lucky for me, I have cousins who are social media savvy and “connected,” which meant within minutes I was receiving feedback and questions in abundance. These included “Who’s in the photo?” and “Where was this taken?” and “How are these people related to me?” as well as others.
Being the keeper of the family history means I not only try to answer these questions, but I also benefit from the comments made by other family members. The information provided not only helps to clarify the “who, what, where and when” aspects of the photo, but eventually the family stories also come out—and they just don’t trickle out…we’re talking a downright flood.
Family Is The Story
Here’s an example, with a photo of Georgiana Simpson (1862-1938) and Jacob DeGroodt (1860-1933), my 2nd great grandparents. I received the photo, again from another cousin, and I did a quick upload to a Facebook album.
Just look at some of the comments in the sidebar. I still get choked up when I see “So these are my great grandparents…” or “First time I have ever seen my great grandparents.” Imagine if I had just left the image file on my computer and didn’t make the effort to share it with others.
For other photos, some comments tell long stories about these ancestors and their lives. To think that this information would never have been shared had it not been for the simple act of posting a photo.
Scan, Share, Inspire and Repeat
If you are sitting on a collection of family photos—whether they are in a box, the original envelope from the drug store or Fotomat (remember those?) or in an old scrapbook—you are sitting on a gold mine of family connectivity and storytelling.
Each image bound by its gummed black corners on that stiff scrapbook page is just waiting to spark a conversation or a connection if you’re willing to help it escape and let it “speak.” Scan a photo with the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner, save the image to your computer and then select the sharing option that best suits you and your family. It could be a Facebook posting or a photo album. It could be on Twitter or even Pinterest.
Whatever you do, don’t just let those digital images sit there on your computer! You’ll never know the full potential of a family photo until you share it with others. And you might be surprised by what you find out about the picture, the people, your family and even better, yourself.
[Editor’s note: Wondering what to do with all those scanned family photos? Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee shares his ideas to help spark your creativity this holiday season.]
I know what you’re saying…“It’s too early for Christmas!” or “I can’t believe the holidays are here already!” I often feel the same way around the end of October and I tend to get cranky when I see television commercials advertising the holiday gift-buying season or hear Christmas songs on the radio.
During the holiday season I also feel pressure to not only find unique gifts for family members, but to also share family photos and my genealogy research. So I’ve found a few solutions that take some of the pressure off and help me enjoy the season with my family and friends.
Holidays Are Closer Than They Appear!
Before getting busy with the “crafty” or creative part of the solutions, I have to scan those photos sitting in the boxes and albums. I can’t put it off, otherwise I won’t have the digital images I need to create great gifts. I’m also scanning at the highest possible resolution on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner—600dpi. This ensures that the images in my gifts will be clear and really stand out on the items I’ll be creating.
Over the past few nights I’ve been busy using my Flip-Pal mobile scanner to digitize my old family photos while I have watching television in my living room. I have been able to scan about 50 or so photos each night to create a library of content that I can then turn into a variety of gifts.
Don’t delay! The process of going from scanned photo to great gift will take at least a week before you can even receive the item you create—and that’s if you work at lightning speed. Most people will need more time, so scan those photos now!
A Variety of Gift Possibilities
Once you have your photos digitized, what can you create to give to family and friends for Christmas, Hanukah and other holidays (any time of the year, actually)? Here’s a list:
- 2013 Calendars: Create desktop or wall calendars with a different family photo for each month. Use your genealogy research to write a brief description about the people or places depicted in the photographs. Also, don’t forget to include those birthdates and anniversaries on each day!
- Christmas Tree Ornaments: What’s nice about photo ornaments is that they are brought out each year and bring back memories. As you can see from the photo above, I’ve scanned my family photos, mounted them on cardstock, and then, using a glue gun, I’ve decorated them with preserved cedar and dried rosebuds for a Victorian look.
- Wearables and Other Gifts: Online stores such as Café Press and Zazzle let you upload photos to create t-shirts, sweatshirts and more. Don’t forget that you can also create mouse pads, tote bags, buttons and even iPhone cases using those same photos. A nice aspect of using these online stores is that once the holidays are over, family members can go and order the items they want at any time!
- Printable Fabric: Local fabric and hobby stores carry cotton fabric that you can print with your ink jet printer, just like paper. It is colorfast and can make great wall hangings, throw pillows, or even a heritage quilt.
- Photobooks: The self-publishing concept has become so much easier by using sites like Lulu, My Canvas, Blurb and even superstore sites like Costco and Walmart. Upload your photos, select a template, a paper type and a binding format and you’re on your way to creating a memorable book.
These ideas are just the beginning of endless possibilities for gifts using your photos scanned with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.
FREE Webinar: 10 Ideas for Great Gifts Using Your Family Photos*
Need more inspiration? On Friday, November 16, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time ⁄ 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time, you can attend a live online presentation entitled 10 Ideas for Great Gifts Using Your Family Photos presented by Flip-Pal and Legacy Family Tree.
I’ll be co-hosting this 90-minute presentation along with Diane Miller, Technical Marketing and Genealogy Account Manager for Flip-Pal mobile scanner. Here is what the webinar will cover:
Once a precious family photo is scanned using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, you can do more than just send the image to friends and family or add it to your family tree. We will quickly cover how to scan an original and then print the scanned image for use in gift projects. A few of the ideas we will share using these prints include ornaments, sweat shirts, quilts, wall hangings and holiday decorations. This seminar will be packed with ideas and step-by-step instructions from these two creative individuals. We’ll also discuss how you can use various sites such as Zazzle, Café Press and even superstore sites such as Costco, Walmart and Walgreens to create calendars and photo books as gifts.
*You can see a recording of this webinar by clicking here.
You can learn more about Legacy Family Tree webinars by downloading their latest flyer here.
[Editor’s Note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner team member Diane Miller discusses her innovative and creative concept that she now uses to label all of her family history scans.]
I like immediate results. That is why I use the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Sketch Kit!
A Plague of Sticky Notes
The story starts a long time ago, while my mother and I were looking at her old childhood photo album. Ever curious, I asked a variety of questions including, “Who’s that?,” “How are they related?” and “How do you spell their last name?”
As I was asking all those questions, I was recording as much information as I could about the pictures using little yellow sticky notes. I placed them in the album on the pictures and in the margins—wherever I could get enough space to stick them. Not a good idea since the adhesive could damage the photos! The finished result looked a lot like the album above. I was writing as fast as I could, but still not keeping up with the flow of the stories.
Over time those notes have fallen off, my mother is no longer here to help me label the photos and I am left to try and figure out which photo goes with what note.
The Goal: Label Photos Without Damaging Them
I am in the process of digitizing my life bit-by-bit. I really wanted an immediate way to label my scans until I could get them put on the computer and then into a proper family, folder, or name organization. I could do what I’ve done in the past—scan the photo with the sticky note attached and then do a proper scan without the note. However I really don’t want the adhesive from the notes near my photos since they are rapidly deteriorating.
With my thinking cap on, I developed a solution: the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Sketch Kit! It is an immediate and fast way to label your photos as you scan them. The kit contains a thin, high quality acrylic sheet and three erasable fine tip markers.
How the Flip-Pal Sketch Kit Works
Scan the original photo to keep as your “master” copy. Then, gently lay the Sketch sheet over the original and draw on the Sketch using the supplied erasable markers. You can add names, dates, arrows, circles and details about the original. Next, scan the original with the Sketch between the scanner and original. The result: a digital label that will always stay with the picture.
When finished, wipe off the ink on the Sketch with a soft damp cloth, then dry thoroughly. Now you are ready to start the process all over again. The photo album below shows the Sketch sheet being placed over the photo with markings on it, ready to be scanned.
I use the “master” scan in digital scrapbooks and slide shows for my family. The annotated scan is kept as my permanent record of who, what, when and where as it relates to the photo.
Tips for Using the Flip-Pal Sketch Kit
Here are a couple of tips when using your Sketch:
- Remember to only mark on the Sketch sheet with the enclosed erasable pens. Permanent fine tip pen ink won’t wipe off.
- Use only one side of the Sketch, away from the original, as the drawing surface so the ink does not come in contact with your photo or document.
- Protect the acrylic sheet when it is not being used since it can scratch easily. I store mine in the padded envelope it came in, with the pens stored in the pocket of the Deluxe Flip-Pal mobile scanner Carry Case with Pocket.
- Occasionally clean and polish the Sketch with a nonabrasive glass cleaner and a soft cloth.
For me, the creative process is a continuous one, inspired by my search for my ancestors and, in fact, the search for myself. Let us know how you would use the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Sketch Kit! We want to know what inspires you and we’d love to share your ideas with the genealogy community.
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner Ambassador Thomas MacEntee shares his thoughts on the various ways to help others with their genealogy research while giving yourself a gift at the same time.]
Think back to when you first became interested in researching your family history…what was the “catalyst” involved? Most likely there was a specific event or a special person in your family that triggered that moment where you realized, “I want to know who my ancestors were and I want to know who I am.”
As your genealogical journey progressed—what other events, people, places and organizations influenced your research and your discoveries? Have you ever considered where you would be with your family history without those contributors and influencers?
Why should I help others with their genealogy? What’s in it for me?
A very good question. Here’s my reason why I volunteer my time with genealogy organizations and help mentor other genealogists: if I can help someone and make it easier for them and not have them repeat some of my mistakes, then for me I’ve returned the favor that was once given me.
And what do I get out of it? Every contact and every collaboration continues to be a revelation for me. I may have been “doing genealogy” for over 20 years now, but each time I work with someone new I think of resources I haven’t used in a while or I fine tune my approach and skills on a certain type of research problem. It is my way of being in a state of constant learning and constant curiosity.
Ways you can make a contribution to the genealogy community
Just as we all research our ancestors differently, there are different opportunities for you to give back to the genealogy community. Here are a few:
- Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has been a mainstay of volunteerism and genealogical assistance for years. Despite the recent death of its creator Bridgette Schneider, the spirit of giving lives on in a new site set up in a wiki format. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness Wiki takes requests for lookups, photos, record requests etc. and allows others to pitch in and provide help.
- Create a blog. Blogs are not just personal diaries or soap boxes anymore. Many genealogists have started to share their own genealogy research experiences online and in public through the use of blogs. Check out Blogger to get started and you could have a blog set up in less than five minutes. For examples of genealogy blogs, visit the GeneaBloggers site which lists over 2,800 different genealogy and family history blogs from around the world.
- Contribute to message boards and forums. Many sites including Ancestry.com and FamilySearch have forums or message boards where newcomers often ask questions. Look for topics related to your own research or your area of expertise and contribute information that will help others.
- Facebook groups. The hottest thing in collaboration and knowledge sharing right now are the various genealogy groups created on Facebook. Use the search field at the top of the Facebook screen and search for a topic and add the word “genealogy.” There are groups focused on technology and specific locations that are not only fun to contribute to, but who knows, you might also learn a thing or two?
- Volunteer. Many genealogical and historical societies need volunteers and don’t’ forget that with the ever-expanding Internet technologies and apps, you can often volunteer “virtually” instead of showing up in person. Visit the Federation of Genealogical Societies to locate genealogy societies near and far.
How to use the Flip-Pal mobile scanner to give back
Believe it or not, you can actually use the Flip Pal mobile scanner with many of the suggested methods of giving back listed above. Here are some ideas:
- Offer to scan documents as part of an indexing project. Many genealogy societies are sitting on holdings such as obituaries, photos, diaries and more that can be shared online with other researchers if only they were scanned and placed in digital form. The Flip-Pal is mobile and allows you to bring the scanner to the items so they don’t need to leave the repository.
- Share your Flip-Pal success story! Every genealogist loves to hear how another researcher was able to successfully make a break through, either with their research or in sharing their finds with family and friends. If you’ve been able to use the Flip-Pal in a creative way, why not post your story on your blog or on Facebook? You might just inspire another genealogist!
- Scan and share resources for other researchers. If you’ve found items such as old maps or books that might be of interest to other genealogists and you know they don’t exist online, scan them with your Flip-Pal mobile scanner and then share them online. (Of course, make sure that you check if the item still has copyright protection before undertaking this type of project.)
Who knows? The seeds you plant through your contributions to the genealogy community might inspire the next generation of genealogists to do the same.
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal Ambassador Thomas MacEntee discusses why you should ensure that your family history research is preserved for generations to come.]
How much thought have you given to making sure that all your hard work researching your family history doesn’t go down the drain? Have you taken steps to ensure that your family photographs and documents don’t get lost or tossed out by accident? What about finding someone within your family to continue the genealogy research once you’ve passed on?
These are questions that we as genealogists don’t take time to answer perhaps because it means we have to contemplate our own mortality and time in the future when we are not here on this planet. Just like estate planning or specifying your last wishes, consider a plan to ensure that your family’s legacy endures.
Make a Legacy To-Do List
It’s easy to tackle the problem of preserving the family’s legacy with a simple list of tasks. Here are some you should consider:
- Create an Inventory. Some call this a “master list” or “road map.” It is a document that lists everything you consider to be included in your research. List items, box numbers if used, and location. Keep this list with your other important legal papers.
- Start archiving materials. You’ve probably put this off like many of us have, but make sure you are using archival quality folders and files to preserve hard copies of photographs, documents and other paper items.
- Digitize photos and documents. Yes, you’re going to archive these items (you are, aren’t you?) but you should have a digital copy for safekeeping. This is where the Flip-Pal mobile scanner can be used to scan items, even 3-dimensional ones like medals. Many Flip-Pal owners say this is the easiest part of legacy preservation—just keep a box of items to scan and scan while you’re watching television at night!
- Don’t forget online items! This means places where you’ve uploaded your research data or a GEDCOM file. Also include any site where you’re storing photos such as Picasa. Write down the website URLs along with your login and password and make it part of your inventory.
Do It Like There’s No Tomorrow!
It is easy to put these tasks off for another day especially when discussing something related to the end of your life. Not only could something happen to you tomorrow, but a natural disaster could strike and damage your materials as well.
Preserving your documents and photos digitally using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner allows you to create digital copies in a snap. In addition, the Picture Keeper flash drive makes it easy to place those digital copies in a safe place along with your other estate planning papers such as a firebox or a safe deposit box.
Nominate a Legacy Keeper
It is likely that you’ve already discussed your research with either immediate or extended family members. You might even have one or two cousins who help you with the research. Take time to discuss this issue of “legacy continuity” with them and select one or two persons to carry the torch after you’re gone.
Also make sure they know where your materials are stored, including those online! You may want to prepare a document listing the inventory of research as well as a list of websites along with logins and passwords so they can access the online materials. You don’t need to share this now, but make sure the document is placed with your other estate planning documents.
Explore Non-Family Options
For whatever reason, you may be in a situation where there just isn’t anyone in your family to whom you can entrust your research and materials. One option is to contact your local genealogy or historical society and discuss donating your collection to their library. Most organizations would be happy to receive a well-document record set that they can use as part of their holdings.
Don’t assume that you can just specify the organization in your estate planning papers and you’re done! Just because you designate a group to inherit your research, doesn’t mean they’ll accept it. It is recommended that you contact the society now and discuss various options on passing along your work to them. In addition, make sure that your family members understand your arrangements so there isn’t anyone interrupting your well laid plans for the society.
Your Love of Family History Will Go On
Taking steps now to preserve your family legacy with useful tools like the Flip-Pal mobile scanner will ensure that your family’s history is not lost and will be passed along from generation to generation.
Photo: Two Boys [unidentified], 1892. Digital image in possession of author.