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February 13, 2009

Genealogy and Family Hope Chest Step 4: Share those Photos!

Photos are fairly easy to share and pass on. There are many methods but here's a few I have used:

* Scan your original photographs, then print them on good quality photographic paper. Label them on the back (using a proper pen for writing on photos) Mail to family

* Scan your original photographs, then create a collage (Picassa does a nice one) or Memory Book, with text describing each photo. Mail the bound Memory Book to family members.

* Take your favourite family photos to a photography store. Have them enlarged and then choose a nice mat and frame for each one. Give them as gifts at Birthdays or Christmas.

On the left you can see a few of the family photos I have enlarged and framed for myself.

Once you have framed a photo, be sure to print neatly on the back with pen! Put the date you framed it, your name and a brief biography of the subject. I have dozens of framed, labelled ancestor photos on the walls of my house (over 75 at last count) and while I have made copies to send to family, no one else has the huge antique frames I have. Some day my framed photos will be passed on and I want to be sure that whoever gets them next will know exactly who each person is and how they are related to that person.

My advice is to never frame your original photographs. Make good quality copies and frame those instead. You honestly can't tell them from the original! Put your originals (identified on the back of course) in a small, convenient container, and label it. Use several containers if necessary, depending how many originals you have.

I have all my pre-1950 photographs sorted by family (McGinnis, Peer, Vollick, Fuller, Simpson and so on) and I have one small clear storage tub for each. Labelled of course!

For duplicates or photos that I know I want to pass on to certain individuals (such as my grandchildren or children) I bought larger tubs labelled with the name of whoever I want to have the photos. So for example I have a large tub labelled with the names of two of my grandchildren and in it are the photos I already know I want them to have.

My older CDVs, Cabinet Cards and tintypes are in archival folders and binders. You can also buy a lovely container that looks like something anyone would want to have, and put your photos in that.

Choose whatever method suits you best but remember -- the idea is to make it EASY for your Executor to go through your home and carry out your wishes. If your photos are in file folders or dozens of photo albums, they are less apt to be saved or to be passed on to others.

You don't know who will be clearing out your belongings - a spouse, a child, a grandchild... but whoever it is will presumably be grieving and exhausted. They may have limited time or energy to carry out the task! So make it easier for them. Sort, organize and label.

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