The Great Photo Project

Nope.  I haven't done ANY stitching.  Not for a long time.  Nearly all my time and attention have been devoted to The Great Photo Project.  This actually started shortly after my Mom passed away in 2012.  I even blogged about it here: The Great Scanning Project. It picked back up again this past summer when I decided to start organizing a box of unlabeled and undated photos.  

I did some of this kind of sorting back when I started working on my Dad's memoir.  It's really hard figuring out dates on photos when they are unlabeled.  I at least attempted to sort my Dad's childhood photos into chronologic order.  I covered the dining room table with sheets of paper with the years written on them.  It helped.  I used this same process when trying to figure out the order of more recent photos.  It works fairly well, especially if you can find a dated one here or there. 

I've been working on my Mom and Dad's memoirs for some time.  My Dad's is nearly finished, except for photos. Most of those photos were in albums or on slides in the family archive stored in my temperature controlled storage locker.  I knew it was going to be a huge job.  So in October, my sister came to help for a week.  

Here is the 10'x10' storage locker before we got started.  It was at least ⅓ - ½ full of photo albums and genealogy research.  All the boxes you see in this photo except the plastic tub are filled with the family archives.  

I brought home as many of the boxes of photo albums as I could before my sister arrived.  There were 2 very full car loads.  This was all just photo albums.  

Before my sister came, I sorted and labeled several boxes of loose photos and made a plan. I had also scanned the better part of a box of really old family albums dating to the 1920s-50s.   

Once my sister arrived, we moved into high gear!  Here I am a day or two into the downsizing effort.  As you can see, there are still lots and lots of boxes, plus a few that were out of sight in the living room.  In all, we had 18 moving boxes and large plastic tubs filled with photo albums that covered 120 years.  

My sister and I!  Wow, this really was a project!  Truly overwhelming at times!  We took photos out of albums.  We labeled photos.  We organized by year.  We threw out photos (lots and lots) of landscapes, scenery, flowers, clouds, people we didn't know. We made envelopes full of photos for family and friends that we did know and eventually, I'll get those sent off.  We discarded 2 ½ large wheelie trash bins with now empty albums and pages, and all those unwanted photos.  I started a family calendar to help us date photos and keep track of events.  We wore out 2 pens and purchased more.  We kept filling up photo boxes and bought more.  

Whew!  Even the cat was tired!  

We were a little over halfway through when this photo was taken.  

In the end, we narrowed all those moving boxes of photo albums down to this.  I continued to find more photos after my sister left, so now there are 20 boxes of photos, 6 boxes of negatives, and two larger boxes of oversized photos.  

The genealogy archive now fits a little more loosely on the storage locker shelves and there is room in the middle for other things.  There are at least as many boxes of genealogy research as there were photos, plus I have a few more boxes at the house.  Once my parents memoirs are completed, I hope to scan what the immediate family is interested in and make a family history book.  

After my sister left, I put the negatives in order and started scanning a number of them that had survived my house fire in 1999.  A lot of the photos had not survived, so it was great fun to see some of those photos we hadn't seen in over 20 years again!  

Of course, there were mishaps along the way - Thanks Mushu Kitty.  Sigh.  

Once the negatives were scanned, I got to scanning slides.  I had done approximately half of the slides in 2013, but there are still 14 boxes to go.  

Now, most of the photo archive is neatly organized on this shelving unit in my new study.  The shelves just to the left contain the negatives, more undated/unlabled photos, more slides to be scanned and some scrapbooks.  Always more work! 

And after taking the month of January off to change rooms around, I'm finally back to scanning slides.  I'm up to 1988.  Only 11 more boxes of slide carousels and 3 enormous notebooks of slides to go.  Then I can start looking at photos and deciding which of those need scanned and then maybe, at long last, I can finish my folks memoirs!  Then I need to tackle the genealogy archive and a family history book.  And once that happens, I might actually have time to stitch once again!  One can hope!  

I'm considering writing another post in the near future on some of the tips and tricks I've figured out when dealing with a large photo archive like this.  Let me know in the comment section below if you would find this helpful and let me know if you have any specific questions!  


Sarah Aldrich said…
I’d like to know how you are scanning the slides. My husband is starting to sort photos and we have slides too.
Robin said…
Omgosh! What a labor of love. You are so very organized and very systematic in your approach Kudos to you. Wow is all I can say
Doreen NH said…
I would love more information about how you organized such a wealth of family love. I am curious how you scanned the slides? I scanned an entire box of photos for my father-in-law and made copies on flash drives for all the siblings. Now no one has to fight over who gets what photo. Everyone has their own copy!
Talk about a monumental undertaking! I thought I had it bad when I went through all our family photos a couple of years ago but not NEARLY what you're dealing with. I ended up scanning any that I could identify and then uploaded them into Ancestry before passing them along to other interested (or maybe not so interested!) family members. Apartment life means I simply don't have the space to store them all and I know my boys haven't any interest and would simply throw them out. I did learn how important it is to label and date every single photo and it's simply not good enough to put just a first name and date - it needs to be the complete name. A lot of the older family photos ended up going into the three books I had published (my 3xgr grandfather and his son both kept daily diaries of their life on the farm and between the two of them spanned almost a hundred years). I typed their entire diaries and had them published. Took me seven years.
zooperson said…
What. scanner do you use? I have a ton of negatives and slides to address.
Gail said…
What a job! I can’t believe all of the work on the family archive. I’m sure there were many days that you thought, “Is this a blessing or a burden?”

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