Gensoft - March 2000
A few updates from November 1999 presentation at the Computer Special
Interest Group meeting, subject to change depending on questions
asked March 25 at GenSoft Workshop (GenSoft has now merged with
the WildRose Seminar to become "FamilyRoots".
Questions welcome by e-mail.
- soft pencil for marking photos lightly, archival sheet protectors
from an office store, color coded binders to hold items and printouts
like books-in-progress, wide dividers with tabs to fit between
groups of individuals or time periods.
Plan for a growing collection
- identify individuals in each picture if possible, or previous
owner of photo
- snapshot album may need pages numbered and photos listed
- large items (rolled map) represented by a paper note with location
of the original
- photos of keepsake items and gravestones with location
- oldest pictures first
- Consider one binder for each potential book or branch of the
family. If ancestors came from the same country you might want
them in one file or binder in the early stages of research. Direct
descendants plus siblings for each main surname are easier to
organize than ancestors of a starting person.
- If ancestors came from different regions, consider one binder
per research area. If descendants hold separate reunions, consider
one binder for each area of residence. Descendants of brothers
may have separate reunions in the same area because there are
too many people to get together at the same time.
Pictures on a computer
- Inserted pictures are used in Family Tree Maker, keep the smallest
possible image with acceptable quality. One data files contains
pictures. Video clips use Object Linking (OLE) and have to be
backed up in addition to the data file.
- Scanning directly into a program may be possible but harder
to control image size. Better to organize photos for each family
group in Windows folders so they are ready to share with relatives
who use a different system.
- Linked pictures are often in one folder. Total size of a backup
set must be considered.
- Multiple copies of pictures may be needed
- archival scan of a photo borrowed from a relative, full page
document about 600 pixels or larger, scrapbook or slide show size
about 480 pixels high, e-mail size under 200 kb, web page size
about 35 kb.
- Edit at the time of scanning if possible, using the exact area
of a photo wanted. An image received by e-mail and re-edited to
straighten a source document or remove distracting edge may end
up much larger than the original even if the pixel size is reduced.
- Heads for family trees look nice as ovals and can have a feathered
edge to reduce distracting background when selected from a group
picture. In Paint Shop Pro software, use Ellipse and feather.
Select a color used in the photo for a border if a small image
file needs a frame.
- Most scanner software has quality settings. Use best quality
JPG if there is any chance an image might need to be edited. Use
compression as the last step to get a smaller image file in the
desired size. A JPG loses quality each time it is edited, though
not each time it is viewed.
Pictures on the Internet
- Web page pictures need to be small enough to display with a
variety of screen settings. Test a sample picture with the computer
screen set at 640x480, 800x600 and 1024x768. Also check the look
of a web page with different browsers and different kinds of Internet
- Those with a fast connection can view and download picture files
- Identification of a picture can be on top of the image or in
a frame using the options in a full-featured image editing program.
Naming image files
- Date first 1899-01-01NameTopic.jpg, 50 per folder by family
- Reference number assigned may be confusing.
- Directly from a genealogy program with photo charts and scrapbooks
- Word processor file started from a genealogy report in rich
- Word processor file started with memories
- Index may be automatic or require advanced word processor skills
- CD recordables, view data files directly or copy to hard drive
- Uncompressed copies of images with meaningful file names in
- Progressive backups saved during a project
What to do with early family pictures that are unmarked?
Never throw away an early picture just because it is unmarked.
Collectors value old photos for clothing and hair styles styles,
especially if location of the photo is known. The early portrait
photos have clues that may be helpful for location of family members.
A photo marked "Charles Tupper's sister" with the photographer's
name and location in the US resulted in contact with the author
of a 1400 page book published a few years later. The provincial
archivist used to keep lists of researchers working in the same
area or interested in the same surnames. The 1880's portrait was
used in the book and it also contains information about the photographer's
Links from the city-gallery
web site may help with dates because photographers used cardboard
styles and photo methods in different time periods. There is a mailing
list, way to post small copies of "problem" photos for
discussion and links to helpful articles. Steve Knoblock, popular
history of photography and genealogy.
Early snapshots show much more about the daily life of family members
than studio portraits -- farming vs. city life in the 1920s, a country
school teacher's pupils and neighbors, a young man's self-portraits
taken with the help of a tripod and self-timer feature on a folding
camera in the 1930s. Sometimes contact prints the same size as the
film were made backwards, not obvious unless there was a sign like
the name of the train station.
Identify every photo with the family surname of the previous owner,
guess at the dates and distribute scanned copies or photocopies
to other family members who may have similar pictures. The back
of a photo or note on a postcard may have additional details. A
family picture with 7 young girls could only belong to one household
in our family history. The half page of typed notes about them in
the 1970 grew to two or three binders.
One of the sample pictures displayed at Gensoft showed a street
scene in Springhill, NS. It was mailed with no street address to
a boy in Calgary. August showed but no year for the postmark. "Willie
Shields drowned in the lakes last Sunday" turned into William
Shields son of ___ and ___ died Aug 8, 1909 when someone on the
Cumberland mailing list was able to combine family details with
the clues from the postcard. In contrast, an envelope with an unclear
house number in 2000 was returned to sender even though it had the
correct postal code. Calgary is a big city now. Elizabeth.