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Here Comes the Box

Long ago (it seems long ago to me) I began scanning my old snapshots of cemetery markers. My dad and I took these in the days before digital cameras. I had barely begun this project when life got in the way. Now I am ready to work on it again, so I got out the box of snapshots. It is a mess. I know we scanned some of them, but which ones? Getting this under control will require a multi-step approach.


First I need to identify which snapshots have been digitized and which have not. I will put the prints of those already done into an archival-quality album and insert the rest after I scan them.

Creating the Database

Now that I attended the presentation by Nancy and Gary Ratay on organizing digital images, I have learned how to sort the photos in a way that makes sense to me. I plan to index them by both name (married and maiden for women) and cemetery. We already have quite a few digital images of cemetery markers that just need to be reorganized this way. To digitize those photos that have not yet been done, we have a large flatbed scanner I can use.


Once I have everything nicely organized into digital folders that I can actually find again in the future, I want to post these images as exhibits in The Master Genealogist software program I use and on the website. My husband/tech advisor has posted some of our images on, and I want to post the rest there, too. When I am ready, he will help me learn to do it myself. The images will be accessible to any descendant working on the same lines.


The key for me is always written documentation. How the process works. Where to find things. Keywords used in indexing. I plan to create written documentation for all of this as I go. Then, as I acquire more photos, it will be easy to follow the same steps to insert them into my existing system. I will be able to find any image quickly. And someday, a descendant can take it over. He/she will not need to dig it all out of a cardboard box.

2 Responses to “Here Comes the Box”

  • I am curious about how you will index your photos. I am guessing this is different than the photo’s label. Could you tell me more about this?

  • Teri:

    Nancy Ratay advised that one should always keep the original consecutive camera number with an added descriptor on untouched digital images. Beyond that, one should keep copies of scans of the originals that you can adjust. File the scans in folders kept by surname, place, or event. For surnames, use the most common spelling of the name, e.g. “Reed”. The photo itself may have a different spelling, e.g. “Reid”, but all Reed/Reid/Read/Wrede photos will be in the “Reed” subfolder under “Surnames”. Since I am not a professional and do not have hundreds of genealogy-related photos, I think this simple system will work for me.

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