[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.
Many of us have spent hours, days and months scanning precious photos and documents only to lose them when a computer crashes, a backup system fails or a natural disaster strikes.
In the past, when most photographs existed in paper form, there were several ways to obtain a copy—a reprint from the negative, a photocopy, etc. Now, when a hard drive fails, those digital images are often gone for good.
The Picture Keeper—A Snap To Save!
I have just started working with an easy-to-use backup device to save all of my digital photos and scans of documents. I first mentioned Picture Keeper in a previous post and now I’d like to explain how to get started using a program that many call “the simplest automatic picture backup device.”
Getting Started with the Picture Keeper
Just plug the Picture Keeper drive into a USB port on your computer and it will walk you through the process of backing up your photos. The software is already installed on the USB drive and is ready to start saving your digital photos and scans.
The first time you use the Picture Keeper drive on a PC, the “Auto Play” dialog will appear. With your mouse, double-click on the “Open Folder to View Files” option.
Normally, the main PictureKeeper window will appear, but if not, click “LaunchPictureKeeper.exe” to launch the program:
For Mac, look for a drive on your desktop labelled "PK" or "No name". Double click on that drive. When it opens the window, just double click on the item labelled "PictureKeeper" that contains a small icon in front of it. The other files are for PCs.
Then the Picture Keeper dialog will appear.
Using the Picture Keeper Program
Click “Start Backup” to begin the initial process of backing up your photos. The Picture Keeper will automatically navigate your hard drive looking for image files (jpg and png). It will then copy them to the Picture Keeper drive using the same folder and files names as those already on your computer. You can use the “Options” menu to add additional image file types such as bmp and psd.
Picture Keeper 8 (PK8) will store approximately 8,000 image files, provided your pictures or scans are approximately 1MB in size. If more space is required, a second Picture Keeper drive can be purchased which will seamlessly continue the backup on the second drive.
Additionally, you can use one Picture Keeper drive for a second computer. When the Picture Keeper program has finished backing up images on the first computer, simply plug it into the second computer and it will back up images on that computer as well.
Finally, remember that when you remove the Picture Keeper drive from the computer be sure and put it in a safe place!
To learn more about The Picture Keeper, watch the video below:
Picture Keeper Will Backup New and Updated Images
Now the best part! Let’s say a month has gone by and you were reminded to back up your pictures again by the Picture Keeper auto-reminder. Plug the Picture Keeper device into your computer and it will automatically back up any photos or scans that were added or changed. That is all there is to it! It certainly cuts down on duplicate copies of images on your hard drive or backup device.
Overview of How Picture Keeper Works
- Plug the Picture Keeper drive into a USB port, click “Start Backup” and Picture Keeper automatically begins searching for and saving all of your digital images. No software to install or setup. No wires. No passwords. No monthly fees.
- After the initial backup is complete, each subsequent backup runs faster as Picture Keeper only copies recently added or modified photos.
Picture Keeper Features
- The Picture Keeper is a simple and easy way to back up digital images. No technical knowledge is necessary—just plug in the Picture Keeper drive and let it go to work!
- The Picture Keeper stores up to 8,000 digital images depending upon the image size.
- The backed up images can easily be transported to a digital photo printing kiosk located at drugstores and warehouse stores such as CVS or Target.
- You can create a “Plug & Play” slide show on any digital picture frame or television that has a USB port.
- You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your digital images are safe and secure!
- A second Picture Keeper drive will work in conjunction with the first one for continuous back up.
- Each time you plug in the Picture Keeper drive it automatically finds the new or modified images added to your system and includes them in the backup.
- The Picture Keeper can help consolidate digital images from two or more computers and help eliminate duplicate images.
- The Picture Keeper is compatible with Mac, PC and Linux* operating systems.
- The Picture Keeper is more than just a USB flash drive…it does all the backup work for you!
- You can contact the U.S.-based Picture Keeper customer service support team by phone or email.
- The Picture Keeper comes with a one (1) year limited warranty.
Flip-Pal mobile scanner is now offering the Picture Keeper 8 (PK8) drive for sale online—click here for more information or to purchase.
*Compatible with Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows 7; MacOS 10.4.11 and above; Linux.
Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Apple, Mac, MacOS are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Apple Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
The tragedy of a natural disaster surrounds us this summer in our community of friends and neighbors here in Fort Collins, Colorado. This morning I awoke at 1:00 a.m. to the smell of smoke from the nearby wildfire. I got up, turned off the outside fans and closed the windows. When I saw this morning’s paper, tears flowed as I read about 57 more homes being destroyed by the fire.
The last two weeks in Fort Collins have been like living next to a fierce campfire. Daily, smoke and ash cover the skies, our cars and our yards. I can clearly see plumes of smoke from my front door as they rise above the surrounding foothills. The flames—which at times have reached 200 feet into the air—have destroyed more than 250 homes and burned over 80,000 acres. A single home with a family's memories burned to ash is difficult to imagine, let alone more than 250.
Wildfires, Hurricanes and Other Disasters
Besides the Fort Collins area, wildfires have been raging elsewhere in Colorado as well as in Utah, New Mexico and California. In addition to these fires, the hurricane season is barely under way in the Atlantic and there have already been four named storms—a record number for this early in the year. Flash floods, tornadoes and other disasters, both natural and man-made, are a common occurrence in areas of the U.S. and worldwide.
The Solution—Proactively Preserve Your Family Memories
Instead of risking the loss of your family memories, what if you digitally archived them and stored them in several places? You could digitally backup your photos and documents on a thumb drive and store it in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. You could digitized your photos and keep the originals in a safe place. You could even upload your digital images to the cloud via an online storage site.
A Backup Plan Using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and the Picture Keeper
As the family historian, I have devised a backup strategy for all of my valuable photos and documents. First I scan my original documents and photos with my Flip-Pal mobile scanner and store the scanned images on my computer's hard drive. Then I plug the The Picture Keeper thumb drive into my computer’s USB port and it copies all of the scanned images onto the drive.
The Picture Keeper is an amazingly easy to use backup tool. The included software keeps track of previously copied images so that the next time you plug it into your computer it detects any new pictures you’ve scanned and copies them to the thumb drive!
I back up all my scans and photos to the Picture Keeper and then I put it in a safety deposit box at my bank. At the beginning of each month I get my Picture Keeper from my safety deposit box, plug it into my computer and backup any new scanned items.
Now is the Time to Create Your Back Up Plan!
Whatever your preferred method of digitally archiving your family memories—please make sure you regularly back them up and store them in a safe place.
Photo: "Elk Bath" – A wildfire in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana, United States, August 6, 2000, by John McColgan, employed as a fire behavior analyst at the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Public domain via Elk Bath - Montana Wildfires.