Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Scanners and Relatives

Yesterday, there was a rather large storm which kept me inside all day, after finishing what work I could do for my employer I started working on consolidating my computer building and repair tools, when I came across a negative scanner that I bought a year ago. This machine happened to be on sale at the time and I knew I had allot of negatives that were just sitting in boxes, and this little tool or as my wife calls them "toys" would be very useful. I remember using it on some slides when I first got it then put it away thinking; I'll get a lot of use out of this later. A year later I found this little negative scanner sitting right were I left it waiting to be put to some use. I took it out and installed the software and started working on a box of negatives that I hadn't looked at in years.

Being a photographer for many years I generated a lot of material, when I first started I shot black & white film exclusively. As there were so many photographs, I just printed proof sheets and filed the negatives away. For those that are not framilar with the proof sheet it is simply a process of placing all the negatives from the roll of film on a piece of photographic paper and exposing it to light. What you get are a small negative size prints of what you shot, 24 or 36 prints on a page.

Professional photographers used the proof sheet process as a quick reference to see what they had shot and a baseline gauge of the exposure and composition. In my case It would have been cost prohibitive at the time to print every one of the pictures as there were always multiples of each. So as you might guess with hundreds of photographs some of these negatives were never printed and even the ones that were have been lost to time.

So getting back to the scanner and more importantly it's application to genealogy research;

This little machine does an incredible job at scanning the negative and converting it to a digital format; if the negatives are in good shape , have been stored in a clean and dry place, the prints will look like you shot the photographs yesterday. I've done a pile of them so far and it works great, some of these prints I'm really seeing for the first time, what a great step back into the past.

Now Genealogy:

Coincidentally I had been working on a colateral ex-uncle in-law's family, my first cousin's father. He was the ex-husband of my mother's sister. He married a second time and I knew this lady (his second wife) relatively well; she passed on a few years ago and I realized I had virtually no data on her. Using Genealogy Bank and Ancestry.com I did find quite a bit and updated the record, but no one seemed to have a picture of her to add to the file.

While working with this scanner as I started through these black & white negatives, in the 3rd or 4th strip I loaded there she was sitting at the picnic table at my parent's home talking with other relatives. In the next strip I found a photograph of yet another relative my father's brother's wife Aunt Jean sitting in her Harrisville New York living room thirty years or more ago.

There is treasure trove of family history in these pictures, which I haven't seen in over 30+ years. I can't wait to get back to the scanning of the rest of these negative to see what else I can find.