Digitizing Old Family Photos

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Prudence
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Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Prudence » Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:58 pm

I need to downsize and save as much space as possible, preparing to move out of the house. So, I would like to make copies of and then discard the original photos. I have all sizes and shapes and colors; some are more than a hundred years old; there may be a few hundred originals. I could attempt a DIY project, but, I don't enjoy that kind of work, so, I would be happy to pay someone to do it for me, unless there is a quick and easy option. What is a good way to do this (not concerned about cost)?

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JoeRetire
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by JoeRetire » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:03 pm

Prudence wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:58 pm
I could attempt a DIY project, but, I don't enjoy that kind of work, so, I would be happy to pay someone to do it for me, unless there is a quick and easy option.
The options are do it yourself or get someone else to do it for you.
For the latter option, if you can't find a friend or family member to do it, you'll have to pay someone to do it.

Search for "service for digitizing photos". You'll find plenty.
Or if you already have a scanner, hire someone (a neighborhood kid?) to do it for you using your scanner.
Last edited by JoeRetire on Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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atikovi
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by atikovi » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:08 pm

Just need a scanner or just turn them over to a photo service that would put them on a DVD or flash drive. And never throw out the originals. If some major cosmic event occurs causing most of worlds digital media to be wiped, you're screwed.

Yukon
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Yukon » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:16 pm

We used "scanmyphotos dot com" successfully.
Don't Work Forever.

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Jazztonight
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Jazztonight » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:23 pm

When my father died at 96, there were three boxes of family slides that I had to deal with. A friend recommended to look for a Groupon.com coupon, which I did.

I found one company that had good reviews, and took a chance. They did a great job scanning over 500 slides. I ordered extra DVDs of the finished product and mailed these DVDs to my sister and kids and niece and nephew. (Not sure if they ever looked at them, but I did what I needed to do.)

Here's an example of a Groupon deal:
https://www.groupon.com/deals/n-legacyb ... 7c523a9b1d

I am NOT endorsing this company; just showing you the deal. They'll do any kind of media, including photos. The work is probably done overseas, but they do this all the time, and I took a chance. it worked out very well for me.

I certainly did NOT want to do this myself, and know how you feel! Decluttering before and after moving or downsizing is a hassle that never ends.

One more thing: after digitization, you may never look at the photos again! Just saying. A cousin of mine put all of her old photos (after digitizing them) on one of those photo display machines and the photos are playing all the time in her kitchen. She loves it.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche

123
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by 123 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:31 pm

Costco offers a service to digitize old photos. Costs about 32 cents a photo with a $19.99 minimum https://www.costcodvd.com/services-and- ... h-transfer

Whatever service you use I would split your order up into multiples so that a catastrophe doesn't cause a total loss.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

Caduceus
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Caduceus » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:34 pm

I would definitely not discard the originals, especially of the very old photos. Those are not replaceable. Scans will never reproduce the quality of the original silver-gelatin scan. A few hundred photos is not much at all. If you're hell-bent on discarding stuff, I would save all originals from before 1970s, especially all black-and-white ones, and selectively save important originals from after that date.

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Watty
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Watty » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:15 pm

Prudence wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:58 pm
So, I would like to make copies of and then discard the original photos.
Keeping them or not does not need to be a black or white choice. I would take a hard look at keeping the originals of a dozen or two of the most key photos. Even if you keep some you could still downsize by 90%+.

One big problem that you may have when they are scanned is that many of the pictures may have peoples names written on the back. Once they are scanned the names will be lost and even if you know "who is who" now future generations will likely not be able to tell who is in the photos and they will be worthless. It is not ideal but you might write people name's, dates, and other info about the photo in the border with a fine point sharpie before they are scanned.

The biggest risk is that they will be lost in shipping.

You can buy a basic flatbed scanner for around $100 so it would be good to bite the bullet and scan a couple of dozen of the most key photos that you would be the most upset if you lost them. The quality may not be the best but it will be better than nothing if the photos are lost when you send them out for professional scanning.
123 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:31 pm
Whatever service you use I would split your order up into multiples so that a catastrophe doesn't cause a total loss.
+1

I did that when I had my dad's family slides scanned by Costco. I also put lots of return address labels on the various boxes to help get them back to me if the slides were misplaced. I did not have any problems but when I was picking them up someone else was having a big problem with their home movies having been misplaced. I did not hear how that turned out for them.

When you break them into batches be sure to split them up photos by subject matter so if a batch is lost then will still have some of each subject. For example if you have 100 photos from your childhood then don't put all 100 in one batch.

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Rob5TCP » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:21 pm

123 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:31 pm
Costco offers a service to digitize old photos. Costs about 32 cents a photo with a $19.99 minimum https://www.costcodvd.com/services-and- ... h-transfer

Whatever service you use I would split your order up into multiples so that a catastrophe doesn't cause a total loss.
I second Costco - I sent a couple of hundred slides and almost 500 photos. There was no way I was going to do these manually. For the most part, I was satisfied.

For about 50 photos that were the most important, I used a service in Brooklyn with some minor retouching. They were about .95 to $10 per photo (depending on the amount of work). They also transferred my video from VHS and 8mm to DVD.
www.Dijifi.com

InMyDreams
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by InMyDreams » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:28 pm

Caduceus wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:34 pm
I would definitely not discard the originals, especially of the very old photos. Those are not replaceable.
+1

If you don't want to keep the originals after scanning them - is there a local Historical or Genealogy Society that might take them? What about distant cousins? If you need help finding the latter, let me know.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:38 pm

InMyDreams wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:28 pm
Caduceus wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:34 pm
I would definitely not discard the originals, especially of the very old photos. Those are not replaceable.
+1

If you don't want to keep the originals after scanning them - is there a local Historical or Genealogy Society that might take them? What about distant cousins? If you need help finding the latter, let me know.
And if they have profiles on findagrave.com (which you could create, if not), you could upload the photos there. I'd be wary of DVD, by the way. That's basically a dead format now.

Miriam2
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Miriam2 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:40 am

SrGrumpy wrote: I'd be wary of DVD, by the way. That's basically a dead format now.
What is the new format?

SrGrumpy
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by SrGrumpy » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:43 am

Miriam2 wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:40 am
SrGrumpy wrote: I'd be wary of DVD, by the way. That's basically a dead format now.
What is the new format?
The Cloud.

(or so I'm told).

Miriam2
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Miriam2 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:46 am

Which format stores photos preserving the best clarity and color or black & white clarity?

ChrisLA
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by ChrisLA » Fri Nov 15, 2019 3:39 am

Don't throw out the originals, or at least not all of them! Your digital files can be easily lost, deleted, or forgotten about, and the scan quality is likely to be sub-optimal. Maybe you could put the best 30 or 40 of the photos, with captions on the back, in a manila folder labeled "family heirlooms," and put it in a drawer somewhere out of the way and forget about it. Some lucky descendant will hopefully inherit it down the road and will be extremely grateful.

ddurrett896
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:09 am

I used the iPhone app PhotoScan.

Once scanned, I was able to transfer all of them from my device to computer, then into their respective folder. Each kid it getting a flash drive with their folder aka baby book.

bob60014
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by bob60014 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:41 am

Here is a link to a recent thread on this subject.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=99187

As suggested do not throw out/destroy the originals if at all possible.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by TallBoy29er » Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:59 am

You and I are doing similar things right now. Slimming down, and cleaning out.

I am going through the same process. I thought about using a service, but instead I bought a scanner that was recommended in another thread. This thing scans a picture in about 1 second, and can feed pictures as wide as a sheet of paper. I have scanned long photos as well (panoramic). One of the things I like is that I get to choose the photo name for a batch of photos, and then every photo scanned is simply an increment of that name. Eg "2010_Indiana Adv Race_001". You can scan at 300 dpi, 600 dpi (my choice), or 1200 dpi. The only downside to going up in dpi is time of scan. I think 600 dpi takes 2-3 seconds per photo.

I also have started to use the scanner for documents I want to digitize, then throw out. I am getting rid of my whole file cabinet.

I am choosing to throw out the photos once they are scanned (I save to 3 different locations). I get that keeping the originals could be nice. But it is a burden. And the reality is that I prefer to easily look at them online, I will never pull out a photo album. YMMV, but I say chuck the originals, don't be shackled by them.

Oh, here's the scanner I bought: https://www.amazon.com/Epson-FastFoto-F ... B07DLX26BB. Love it.

Topic Author
Prudence
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Prudence » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:24 am

I have an HP printer/scanner/fax machine that I bought several years ago. I assume that your machine would produce a higher quality scanned photo, right (it's worth the 100 bucks)?

Smoke
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Smoke » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:38 am

Very old photos from the family were usually stored in the original envelops from the developer put into a shoe box in a closet.
I found many old pictures were missing, probably given away to someone through the years.
Some still there were worn and damaged.
What I discovered was that the original negatives were still in the envelops, I scanned them, and then turned the negatives into a negative via photoshop type software, instant gratification that that produced a Positive picture.
Missing photos became found, damaged photos became new.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by TallBoy29er » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:39 am

Prudence wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:24 am
I have an HP printer/scanner/fax machine that I bought several years ago. I assume that your machine would produce a higher quality scanned photo, right (it's worth the 100 bucks)?
I wish it were $100. I paid $500. It took me a while to pull the trigger, but I wanted to de-clutter, and this seemed like the right tool. It is working as well as I had hoped. The thing packs up quite small as well.

A flat bed scanner will take forever to do it yourself. The Epson I mentioned above is a feed scanner. Put a stack of photos on it, and it feeds them through incredibly fast. We have an all in one as well, including a flat bed scanner. I would rather play in traffic than attempt to scan all of my photos on that thing.

Re quality - Two things. First, wipe your photos down before scanning to remove dust. I don't do this for all of mine honestly, but dust on pics will decrease the quality. Second, you can choose how hi-res to scan. The more dpi (300, 600, 1200), the more you can do to the photo later, such as enlarge. Not a huge deal for me, but the option is there.

Nowizard
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Nowizard » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:11 am

Having inherited a large collection of negatives, there is considerable experience in digitization. In our case the negatives have both personal and historical value, so were digitized in two ways: 1. Professionally for those with historical value; 2. By ourselves for those with personal value. Both approaches have benefits and challenges. The first challenge involves organization and determining what to digitize. This, alone, is a time consuming task, but only the beginning. Professional digitization is expensive, and there are decisions to be made when doing it yourself about equipment and time. Another issue is quality of the scan chosen. Some may be at low resolution, others at a higher level for various reasons.
A couple of suggestions: 1. After digitizing, purchase a dedicated, hard drive and transfer all digitalization to it. Seagate makes very reasonably priced hard drives with massive storage; 2. Make DVD copies of the digitizations in two forms, one on typical DVD's for distribution to those interested, one on archival DVD's that will last for much longer periods of time; 3. Construct brief, numbered phrases that identify each digitization that correspond to the order in which they appear on different types of storage. Place a copy of this list on the hard drive and DVD's.
Make it a fun experience in the sense that looking at the photos will almost certainly lead to reminiscing about their content.

Tim

Topic Author
Prudence
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Prudence » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:19 am

Tallboy, does your scanner scan negatives too? I have many negatives from my parents house and I don't know what is on them. I didn't think about negatives until seeing the responses in this thread. How did you deal with negatives? Did you scan and digitize the negative for retention, and, create a positives and digitize them too?

Nyarlathotep
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Nyarlathotep » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:47 pm

Jazztonight wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:23 pm
One more thing: after digitization, you may never look at the photos again! Just saying.
Very true. The value of old photos (whether physical or digital) is actually pretty marginal when it comes right down to it for most people. I have thousands of old physical photos in albums and boxes, spanning my entire life and the lives of my parents and some of my grandparents. How often do I get those albums or boxes out and look through the photos? Maybe once a year at most, and even then I usually look at less than 2-3% of the entire collection. Why would I want to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to digitize items that I may look at for a grand total of maybe 10-15 minutes over the next 30 years?

Even beyond the question of cost, the more I've thought about it in recent years, the more I've been leaning against digitizing most of my old photos. Being able to touch a photo, to hold it closer to my eyes, to feel the texture of the matte or glossy finish, to read the handwriting on the back, for me these are important aspects of connecting with that moment in history captured in the print. I'll gladly live with the extra bit of clutter (boxes, photo albums, etc.) in order to retain that experience.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by TallBoy29er » Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:25 pm

Prudence wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:19 am
Tallboy, does your scanner scan negatives too? I have many negatives from my parents house and I don't know what is on them. I didn't think about negatives until seeing the responses in this thread. How did you deal with negatives? Did you scan and digitize the negative for retention, and, create a positives and digitize them too?
Awl bummer. It doesn't scan negatives.

Smoke
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Smoke » Fri Nov 15, 2019 4:47 pm

Prudence wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:19 am
Tallboy, does your scanner scan negatives too? I have many negatives from my parents house and I don't know what is on them. I didn't think about negatives until seeing the responses in this thread. How did you deal with negatives? Did you scan and digitize the negative for retention, and, create a positives and digitize them too?
I just put the negative on the scanning glass plate and scanned them like a regular photo.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

InMyDreams
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by InMyDreams » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:39 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:38 pm

And if they have profiles on findagrave.com (which you could create, if not), you could upload the photos there. I'd be wary of DVD, by the way. That's basically a dead format now.
Or WikiTree, or FamilySearch, or Geni, or several other one-tree websites.

I could cry when I think of the family photos that have been thrown away that were never duplicated nor scanned :(

michaelingp
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by michaelingp » Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:22 am

I digitized something like 2,000 slides for my mother. I used Scan Cafe which used to do the work in India, but has since moved their operation to the U.S. I was more than satisfied with the results and the cost was relatively very low. They also have an optional service to restore pictures that have faded or in my case, eaten by mold. I put the pictures on a digital frame which she really enjoyed. Personally, I hate clutter, so I threw away all the originals (I didn't have a usable slide projector anyway). I also have many levels of redundant backup for digital assets so losing the electronic copies was not an issue.

As far as never looking at old pictures, I highly recommend a digital frame. My daughter and sister have them, and they love them.

tibbitts
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by tibbitts » Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:26 am

InMyDreams wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:39 pm
SrGrumpy wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:38 pm

And if they have profiles on findagrave.com (which you could create, if not), you could upload the photos there. I'd be wary of DVD, by the way. That's basically a dead format now.
Or WikiTree, or FamilySearch, or Geni, or several other one-tree websites.

I could cry when I think of the family photos that have been thrown away that were never duplicated nor scanned :(
Although I have some regrets about losing one particular box (my fault), it's tempered by the knowledge that I'm the last person in my family, so nobody else will be disappointed by the loss. I think it's easy overestimate the value of personal artifacts to anyone other than yourself.

psy1
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by psy1 » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:39 pm

I assume you are scanning snapshots and therefore don't need professional quality photographic scans. I also assume that you don't intend to use the files for further adjustments in Photoshop or other editing programs. Buying your own scanner is a horrible idea. Apart from spending the money, you will also be spending the rest of your life scanning photos! Scanning photos is very tedious and time consuming. Scanning negatives is worse. There is a reason that many of the scanning services are outsourced to India.

I used Scanmyphotos.com as someone above mentioned. They send you a Priority Mail box which you can stuff with as many photos, slides, and negatives as will fit in the box. For an extra fee, you can organize the photos into numbered packets and they will scan in the numbered order. They return the photos on a thumb drive and will return the originals also.

I do "scan" some of my old photos that I want to work on myself. For that I use a full frame digital camera with macro lens on a copy stand. That works well if you have good lighting but is also very tedious and time consuming.

Smoke
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by Smoke » Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:31 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:26 am
InMyDreams wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:39 pm
SrGrumpy wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:38 pm

And if they have profiles on findagrave.com (which you could create, if not), you could upload the photos there. I'd be wary of DVD, by the way. That's basically a dead format now.
Or WikiTree, or FamilySearch, or Geni, or several other one-tree websites.

I could cry when I think of the family photos that have been thrown away that were never duplicated nor scanned :(
Although I have some regrets about losing one particular box (my fault), it's tempered by the knowledge that I'm the last person in my family, so nobody else will be disappointed by the loss. I think it's easy overestimate the value of personal artifacts to anyone other than yourself.
Very True, while it is sad to hear you are the last in your family, any of us will be forgotten in three to four generations.
Unless pictures are marked who's who and some sort of family tree accompanies them, the photo will be of some unknown person, I have quite a few of those from the early 20th century, no one alive to say who they were.

I am in the oldest generation alive in our family, and I have all/most of the pictures of the previous 3 generations and am the only one who cares.
Like everyone, eventually I will be part of the next generation lost in time.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by SrGrumpy » Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:17 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:26 am
Although I have some regrets about losing one particular box (my fault), it's tempered by the knowledge that I'm the last person in my family, so nobody else will be disappointed by the loss. I think it's easy overestimate the value of personal artifacts to anyone other than yourself.
Oh, somewhere out there, maybe not now but sometime in the future, a 3rd cousin once-removed will be doing her family tree, and she will stumble up on you and somehow get absorbed in your life. I do so every day, and not just for long-dead family members.

InMyDreams
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Re: Digitizing Old Family Photos

Post by InMyDreams » Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:27 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:26 am
InMyDreams wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:39 pm


I could cry when I think of the family photos that have been thrown away that were never duplicated nor scanned :(
Although I have some regrets about losing one particular box (my fault), it's tempered by the knowledge that I'm the last person in my family, so nobody else will be disappointed by the loss. I think it's easy overestimate the value of personal artifacts to anyone other than yourself.
No, seriously: my g'g'grandparents and my g'g'g'grandfather were all photographers in the mid- to late-1800s. Lots of peeps researching them. I'm sure from the collections that I have seen that there were many more photos than just those, that were tossed as households diminished in size with each generation's passing.

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