Thursday, June 4, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 7-Reviewing Genealogy Database Software and Digitizing Photos

Black Hawk Statue, Lowden State Park, Ill. 1970 - GO HAWKS!
As you can see, digitizing and sharing old photos is something I love to do. I scanned this one last week in support of the Chicago Blackhaws, my "backup" hockey team. (The little yellow dot is me.)  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The topics for Week Seven were 1- Reviewing Genealogy Database Software and 2-Digitizing Photos.

Reviewing Genealogy Database Software

Until last Friday, I did not have genealogy software. I only had my tree online at Ancestry. That's right, seven years without a backup.  The Do-Over has done me good again, pushing me to not only review and consider database software, but to finally make a purchase.  Initially I thought I would have my new tree at People Search instead of Ancestry and use Roots Magic, but I found I wasn't as comfortable navigating People Search as Ancestry where I've been a member since 2008.  There wasn't anything bad about it, I just felt more comfortable where I am. Also, I use the Quebec Church Records (Drouin Collection) at Ancestry quite a bit, and since I had no intention of giving up my Ancestry membership it made more sense to me to just start a new tree there.

I'm also a bit limited in my software choices because I have a Mac.  In my last post I talked a bit about DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ. He is a Family Tree Maker user and proponent and knowing he is not a casual researcher made me feel a bit better when I encountered negative reviews at GenSoftReviews, a site that Thomas MacEntee shared in his Week 7 post. I also took my question to the Genealogy Do-Over group on Facebook and all of the feedback on Family Tree Maker was positive.  And that was it, I downloaded FTM for Mac v. 3 on Friday afternoon.

With only three people in my new tree, I don't have a lot to say about it yet, but I will share something as soon as I do.

Digitizing Photos

I've been digitizing family photos for a few years now. I started with my old printer/scanner combo and my maternal grandfather's photo albums that are about 100 years old.

1914 Hudson, from the photo albums of George W. Smith
Unfortunately I was not connected to any genealogy community back then and didn't know anything about the best way to scan or preserve these photos or my albums. All of my scans from these three large albums are .pdf files and I have no idea what the default setting was on that scanner for dpi (dots per inch) (Thanks to Thomas, I now know that information is contained in the metadata!). The images are fine for sharing on blogs but not so great for posterity.

Since then I have discovered Miriam Robbins' Ancestories blog and her monthly ScanFest and something similar to the Photo Digitization Best Practices that Thomas shared in this week's post. If you click over to her blog today you will see her last blog post which is an announcement cancelling May's ScanFest. Rest assured, she will find something that works and it will be worth the wait.  Miriam and her regular participants are fonts of information about photos, scanning, preserving and genealogy in general.  I participate whenever I can.

The question of DIY or scanning service comes down to budget for me. I have a lot to scan and it is in no way, shape, or form in my budget. Sometime this year I do hope to use a service to digitize some other things; a home movie of my paternal grandparents' wedding, in black & white, with some footage of my dad as a child, in color! as well as an audio recording of one of my great uncles interviewing my great-grandfather.  I spent quite a bit of time looking for a service that I thought I could trust, but I really wanted a personal testimonial from the genealogy community before I send these precious items away. Thankfully, Thomas MacEntee did a review of Larsen Digital a few months (?) back, before the review in his Week 7 post, and I'm sold. I can't wait to watch my grandparents' wedding again!  But I will need to find a Swedish to English translator for my great-grandfather's memories.

I don't think I will have a lot to say about the Week Eight topics, but we'll see what happens when I sit down to write it. Until then, I'll be reading Evidence Explained.


Marian Burk Wood said...

Anna, are you synching your Ancestry trees to your FamilyTreeMaker software? I'm thinking about upgrading to it. Thanks!

Anna Matthews said...

I must have replied to this comment on Google+, at least I hope so because I could swear that I did. Anyway, Marian, I have now synched both my new (very small) and old Ancestry trees to FTM and even backed them up to Dropbox. It was all very easy and smooth and quick.