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March 10, 2015

Organizational Project Part 4 - Sorting the Family Photographs

In January I began my plan to sort, organize and digitize my family photos.  I ended up ordering archival boxes and sleeves from a company called GetSmartProducts

Organizational Project Part 3 - Sorting the Family Photographs
On a roll with my first general sort of the family photos!
The acid-free boxes and sleeves finally arrived last week! I agonized over how to begin and how to sort the hundreds of family photographs. Should I sort by topic such as "Trip to Mexico", "Wedding"? Or should I sort by decade? Perhaps I should sort by individuals - one box for each of my children, one for grandchildren? 

My husband thought I should simply sort into 3 piles - Keep, Throw Out and Undecided. That doesn't work for me but if it works for you, use it! 

Eventually I decided that I would start sorting the same way I use online search engines - in broad categories first, then refining the sort bit by bit.

Since I have been married three times (Divorce, death and current), it was easy to sort the photos into those different times of my life. I took 3 purple boxes and made a temporary label with the surname of each husband. I labelled a 4th box "pre-marriage". So I had 4 boxes that pretty much covered my entire life to the present day. 

Purge Pile
Having lots of older family photographs too I needed to label more boxes - one for my mother and her family before marriage and one for another family surname. Then I began my sort. 

As I opened each box of miscellaneous photos, I quickly sorted keeping 3 objectives in mind:

1. Purge (garbage photos, blurry photos, photos of people I didn't know, etc)

2. Give to other family members 

3. Put into my labelled acid-free boxes

It was amazing how quickly this job went! Keeping my box categories so broad was a huge help. I wasn't worried about who was in the photo, where it was taken, did I have multiple copies, etc. I was able to glance at a photo and determine fairly quickly what "era" it was - Marriage #1, #2 or #3 

I'm not done but I'm 3/4 of the way through the first general sort. It's going to be fun to refine my sorting, one box at a time - that's going to be next. 

I also had one larger acid-free box for 5x7 photos and 1 acid-free box for anything bigger than 5x7.  The one thing I am going to add is one more box for my grandchildren' s photos. I'll share my sorting strategies for refining my first general sort in my next blog post.  

Here are links to the previous blog posts about this project:

Organizing Family Photos - Creating a Plan

Organizational Project Part 2 - Family Diaries

Organization Project Part 3 - Digitizing Family Slides


Patricia Dever said...

Thank you for sharing your process. I will be tackling this later on in the year and it's good to get ideas on where to start.

Auntie Em said...

Thanks for sharing your process. I've gotten as far as buying the boxes....

Linda Stufflebean said...

As I am the family historian, I've acquired several thousand photos from my family and my husband's family. I, too, am in the midst of purging, sorting, scanning and then sharing photos. Doesn't it feel great to know you've completed a step in your plan?

Rick Mackoy said...

I about 15 GBytes of scanned photos, and some videos. Now, I am facing the box label dilemma in a digital fashion.

Has anyone uncovered a good photo database that lets you put multiple tags or categories on a photo instead of making multiple copies of the picture?

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Rick I use a Mac so am not sure if this works on other computers. I can tag one photo with as many tags as I want simply by going to the image file, right click and choose TAGS.

I can also enter as much information as I need in the GET INFO section (right click on the image file name)

I can also add the images to Evernote and tag them there with as many tags as I wish. That works on all computers, Windows or Mac

The free Picasa program also allows you to tag a photo with as many tags as you wish

Missy Ivey said...

I had this challenge a couple of years ago with all of my family's photos. I separated my grandparents photos into groups: Her side, his side into 2 groups (one for his family when he was a child and one for super older photos), and their family photos, which included my mom as a child growing up.

Then I received my parent's photos that were in albums. I purchased 12 photo boxes and archival photo sleeves for each. So far, I have put them in order by date. My dad has written full info on every single picture, complete with names of each person, their birth date and info about the photos. He is good that way.

Then, I attached a blank Avery label on the front top left edge of the archival sleeve and wrote the date on each.

Next, I need to go through each one and eliminate duplicates and bad photos and make sure I do have them in the exact order. Then I will go through and add a number to each label and type up an index. I will keep a copy on my computer and a printed copy. That way I will be able to locate individuals in the photos when others need them.

A lot of times when a close family member dies, I will go through and find all the photos of that person and copy and scan and give a CD full of photos to a close living family member. With an index, this process will be much faster.