Easy Resolutions to Preserve Family Memories in 2013

2013 Family Memories Resolutions

[Editor’s note: Saving Memories Forever blogger Thomas MacEntee shares some tips and tricks on setting family history resolutions for 2013 and sticking to them! ]

Besides trying to stick to the usual New Year’s resolutions (losing weight, getting organized . . . I’m sure there are others!), have you pondered the state of your family’s stories and memories?

The start of a new year is a great way to make plans for preserving your family’s history through photos, documents and most importantly, the oral history and stories that get passed down from generation to generation.

Resolution #1: Get Organized and Make a Family History Plan

That’s right Stan, a plan.  All projects big and small require some planning and some efforts at organization.  If you want to start a photo scanning project, start by sorting the photos into groups. Prepare your materials. Set up folders on your computer for storing the digital images.

The same works for saving family stories.  Make a list of the stories that are most important to you. Then list all the family members and friends who might have more information about the story or their own perspective to add.  Finally, list the format you want to use to preserve the story (handwritten, typed on the computer, or recorded using an app like Saving Memories Forever).

Resolution #2: Preserve Photos the Fun and Easy Way

The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is an easy-to-use tool for scanning photos and documents of almost any size. Check out our recent review of the Flip-Pal here and you’ll realize one added bonus: scanning photos with family members will get them talking about family stories!

One trick that successful “family photo scanners” use: place a large box of photos along with your Flip-Pal next to your favorite spot near the television. Each evening, resolve to scan 10, 20 or even 100 photos while watching your favorite programs. In no time, you’ll be ready to move on to the next box of family photos!

Resolution #3: Home Movies and Slides Matter Too

Are you still sitting on a box or two of 8mm home movies? What about video tapes? You need to act quickly to preserve these materials and ideally, convert them to a digital format.  The reason: many materials degrade over time and most of us haven’t taken the time to store these items using archival materials and practices.

The easiest way to convert home movies and slides is to take them to a superstore like Walmart or Costco or a drugstore such as CVS or Walgreens. Drop them off and in a matter of days you’ll have a CD or DVD of the movies and images to be added to your family history projects.

Resolution #4: Don’t Forget The Family Stories

Unfortunately, many of us neglect the family stories when it comes to preserving family history. Perhaps because oral history is not tactile, you can’t reach out and touch it or hold it. This doesn’t lessen its importance; in fact, family stories are often the starting point for genealogy or researching family history.

Rather than trying to remember these stories, which becomes difficult as the years go by, commit to making sure they are kept in a format that can be passed on to future generations. Don’t just write down the story, take it one step further: record the story in your own voice. Or better yet, interview family and friends who were involved in the story!

While digital recording tools abound, Saving Memories Forever is not only easy to use, but you can also add your photos and images to help round out the story.

Resolution #5: Create a “How Am I Doing?” Check In System

Most of us are all gung-ho about resolutions in January, but what about May or November? Set up a reminder system using a wall calendar or a digital calendar (or even a program like Evernote) that forces you to take inventory of you progress.

Like hopping on a scale, try to be honest when checking in. Have you accomplished 10% or 25% of the goal on a family history project? Do you need help, and if so, who in the family can help?

Periodic touchstones help make the journey not only quicker, but they also make sure we are on course to our destination.

So What Are You Waiting For?

It’s all up to you right now. Start today. Don’t wait. Preserve those precious family memories and make sure they get passed on down to the future generations.

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A Flip-Pal mobile scanner Success Story

flip-pal stitched photo

[Editor’s Note: Saving Memories Forever co-founder Harvey Baker shares his experience with using the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner during a holiday activity with family members.]

It was the day after Thanksgiving and most of the family was sitting in our downstairs media room. It had been a pleasant after-Thanksgiving meal with more turkey and leftovers of everything else. We had been working on clearing out one of our rooms where we had a pile of books that we wanted to give to the library as well as boxes and boxes of old photographs.

What To Do With Boxes of Family Photos

We had taken a lot of photos years before there were digital cameras and they were stored in processing envelopes straight from the drug store, photo albums and as single pictures. As we went through pictures, there seemed to be a story that went with each photo. We had a great time trying to figure out which child was which, we were amazed at how the children all looked the same up to a certain age, and we discussed where one picture or another was taken. My daughter would point to one and say, “I would like a copy of this one.” There were no negatives for some of the photos and even if there were, it would have been a chore to pick out which negative went with which photo and mark it somehow to create prints later.

The Flip-Pal – An Easy Sharing Solution

Thankfully we didn’t have to do this. We had been given a Flip-Pal mobile scanner a couple of weeks earlier and now was the ideal time to use it. We followed the quick start instructions and in no time we were ready to scan. It was simple to do.

The scanning was the easy part; the difficult part was moderating the debate as to which picture should be scanned! The pictures were passed around and any picture that someone wanted copied came my way to be scanned. As each selected picture was passed over, I put it on the Flip-Pal scanner bed, closed the cover and pressed the scan button. In seconds, the picture was scanned. I also did a quick check of the LED color display to make sure I hadn’t placed the photograph askew on the scanner. Then, on to the next photo!

There were five of us looking at each picture and we each wanted specific photos to be saved. What could have been a complicated process of writing down “who wanted what picture” was made easy by scanning them with the Flip-Pal. The scans were quick and the resulting pictures looked good.

There were several pictures that were too large to fit on the bed of the Flip-Pal, but following the instructions and scanning large images in segments, we knew we would be able to reconstruct the pictures using the EasyStitch program included for free with the Flip-Pal Toolbox software.

We spent a pleasant hour or so going through about half of the pictures and making copies while sitting around on a sofa while the Flip Pal sat on my lap. I scanned just over 200 pictures in the two hours during which we sat and talked.

Photos Preserved and Shared in a Snap

Once finished, downloading the pictures to the computer was a snap. After taking out the SD card and inserting it into the computer card reader, the image files were easily transferred to the computer. Next, I used the Flip Pal EasyStitch software to stitch together the scanned segments. Once all the pictures were reconstructed, I imported them to Picasa and cropped them and rotated them as required. I then exported them to a folder on my desktop. In the coming weeks, I will use Dropbox to store the pictures and share the files with the family so they will have them and be able to make the copies they want.

The Flip Pal was a great tool to get photographs that were sitting around and collecting dust into the computers and hands of the people who wanted to keep them.

When my father died he had thousands of slides. We had no idea of where they were taken or why. We disposed of all the slides that we could not recognize and kept only those that had people in them. I wish we had a day or set of days where we went through his pictures and got the stories that were behind them.

The Flip Pal was quick easy and fun to use. Now to put all the stories we talked about during the scanning process on Saving Memories Forever!