I find restoring a damaged photograph to its original splendor satisfying work. I’ve been using ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5 which came bundled with my Canon Pixma color printer. There is a newer version PhotoStudio 6 for US$80. Click here for details. It’s not as professional or advanced as Adobe Photoshop but it’s easy to use and does the trick. You can have someone else restore your photos if you’re not a “Do-It-Yourselfer”. I’ve assembled … Read More
Category Archives: Preservation
So much happens to us all over the years. So much has happened within us and through us. We are to take time to remember what we can about it and what we dare. That’s what taking the time to enter the room (called “Remember”) means, I think. It means taking time to remember on purpose. It means not picking up a book for once or turning on the radio, but letting the mind journey gravely, deliberately, back through the years that have gone by but are not gone. It means a deeper, slower kind of remembering; it means remembering as a searching and finding. The room is there for all of us to enter if we choose.
Frederick Buechner, from Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons
I like Buechner’s phrase “to remember on purpose”. It says to me that engaging in the recording of our life story or that of another is not a frivolous undertaking. It’s serious work. It requires that we take the time to reflect on life’s journey and by so doing not only leave a legacy but a clearer understanding of self.
Will you enter the room called “Remember”?
Photo by Max R
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Thanks to Denise Olson at Family Matters for pointing out the value of Flickr for family history projects. If you don’t already know, Flickr is a web based application which allows you to upload, edit, archive and share your photographs with others. The basic account is simple to set up and free. For a modest $25 a year, you can get a Flickr Pro account with unlimited space. I discovered Flickr when I was writing my mother’s life story. It was perfect for uploading her photographs and organizing them into groups. I could even edit and clean up some of the more damaged pictures. To me, Flickr’s great value is that it provides a secure place to keep your treasured photos. You no longer have to fear that should your hard drive crash, all your photos will be wiped out.
Of value too are Flickr groups:
Groups are a way for people to come together around a common interest, be it a love of small dogs, a passion for food, a recent wedding or an interest in exploring photographic techniques. And if you can’t find a group which interests you, it’s super-easy to start your own.
Groups can either be public, public (invite only) or completely private. Every group has a pool for sharing photos and videos and a discussion board for talking.
Flickr has 36 million users and an assortment of groups of particular interest to personal historians. Here’s a sample:
- Old Photos has more than 4,600 members and over 47,000 photos in the collection.
- 100 Years Old has more than 4,000 members and over 9,000 photos – each more than 100 years old.
- Historic UK and Ireland has 274 members and over 4,000 photos.
- Scrapbook has 1,754 members and close to 17,000 photos.
If you want to organize and manage your family, check out Flickr. You won’t be disappointed.
Photo by Mohammad Tajer
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If you don’t know your history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.
Michael Crichton - (1942 – 2008) American author, producer, director, screenwriter and physician
We live in a world that prizes speed, innovation, newness and youth. We’re constantly looking forward. And in the process we’ve become strangers to our past. We’ve either never heard our family stories or forgotten many of them. We pay a price for this. We feel rootless, unconnected and at our deepest core anxious and unhappy.
Recording and preserving our stories is not some flight of nostalgia. It is in fact a determined act to reclaim our history.
Photo by justneal
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To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.
- Chinese proverb
How many of you can name all of your eight great grandparents? That’s the question posed by Dr. Barry Baines at one of his Ethical Will Workshops. I must admit I can only name one. How about you? Probably very few – right? Think for a moment. If you don’t do something to preserve and record your life story then your children’s grandchildren will not know your name. Pretty sobering isn’t it? What are you doing to ensure that your name isn’t forgotten?
Photo by David Fielke
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My mom is ninety. Her mind is clear but she has congestive heart failure and we both know that her time is limited. With her death goes the knowledgeable custodian of several boxes of old sepia colored photographs of relatives long passed. With a sense of urgency we’ve embarked on a methodical recording and preserving of these photos. If you’re in a similar situation you might find what we’re doing of some value.
- Step one: Mom takes a pencil (not a pen) and on the back of each photo she lightly writes index numbers starting with 001, the first photo. In a notebook she writes down the number. Beside it, as best she can recall, she indicates: (a) the names of the people in the photo and their family connection, (b) where the photo was taken, (c) the occasion (i.e., birthday, wedding, picnic, travels etc.) and (d) the date. On the next photo she writes 002 and proceeds to write down the details as she did for the first photo. At this point we’re not worrying about sorting the photos thematically – that can come later.
- Step two: As Mom completes a set of photos I take them and scan them into my computer and carefully include the index number and description. We are now about half way through her collection. After I’ve scanned the photos I place them in an archival, acid free box. You can obtain these through such companies as Archival Methods, Carr McLean or The Container Store.
- Step three: We haven’t got to this stage yet. But once I’ve made a digital copy of each photo there are a number of presentation options available – one that I’m considering is a Photo Book. I’ll most likely group the photos thematically and include the description that my mom’s written for each photo. There are a number of web based publishers like Blurb that specialize in Photo Books.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get those old family photos out of storage and begin the work of archiving them. Let me know what you’re doing to preserve your family photos. Love to hear from you!
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The other day in Zoomer magazine I read an interview with the English actress Emma Thompson. When asked what made her unhappy, she said:
That, much to our great loss, we’ve turned away from the notion of elders, of wisdom. It’s an absolute disaster for the old and the young. It leads to fractures everywhere. But mostly a fracture in our concept of what it is to be human.
I’m reminded that in recording and preserving an older person’s life story we are engaged in important work. We are honoring an elder. We are saying to that person, you count. Your life holds lessons for me and future generations. I value your story and don’t want it lost. What a wonderful difference it would make in our communities if all our older citizens had the opportunity to tell their story. We would indeed become a more humane society. What are you doing to capture an elder’s life story?
Here are four books that demonstrate the wisdom and spirit of older people. Click on the title for more information.
- In the Arms of Elders: A Parable of Wise Leadership and Community Building (Paperback) by William H. Thomas
- What Are Old People For?: How Elders Will Save the World (Paperback) by William H. Thomas
- Number Our Days (Paperback) by Barbara Myerhoff
- How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth) (Hardcover) by Henry Alford
Photo by John Mueller
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I recently read an essay, Lessons Beyond Words by Darren Yourk on the Globe and Mail website. It’s subtitled, While thrashing me at Scrabble, Grandma did more than expand my vocabulary. She shared our family’s story. Yourk’s piece is both humorous and touching. Here’s an excerpt:
I grew to accept Grandma handing me a humbling vocabulary lesson as a regular part of every trip north to visit. I took solace in the fact my lexicon was expanding with every thrashing, adding words such as purl (a knitting stitch), thatch (a roof made of straw or reeds) and trivet (a metal stand for a hot dish or kettle).
Over time I began to realize she was giving history lessons, too, filling in the blanks of my family’s past with vivid tales that left me wide-eyed or roaring with laughter. A single game often lasted more than an hour, the time between turns stretched by memories.
All around us are opportunities to tap into the rich reservoir of our family stories. We just have to ask. We can start the conversation with our elders over a card game, a meal or a walk. And if we can record these at the same time, even better.
You can read or listen to an audio version of Lessons Beyond Words by clicking here.
Photo by Rach Hutchinson