Genealogy: What is the right scanning resolution?

Genealogy: What is the right scanning resolution?By Barry J. Ewell

The answer will vary depending upon what your needs are.  I have spoken with many professional archivists who are scanning rare documents.   Almost universally, the answer I have received is they scan documents in color at 400 dpi and save the images as .tiff.  Based on their response, I have scanned about 90% of my images at 400 dpi and saved them (as they did) in .tiff format.  The images are large (many exceeding 10 megabytes) and that’s ok.  This is my family history; I am scanning not only for my personal interests but also for the generations that will follow. Now when I share the images, I may save duplicate images as .jpg (usually less than 1 meg in size), but the original .tiff is intact providing the key source of information. Continue reading

Genealogy: Scanning with archiving as your priority

Genealogy: Scanning with archiving as your priorityBy Barry J. Ewell

Archiving includes capturing all the detail contained in your film or prints. If you’re unsure about your future needs or simply want to preserve as much detail as possible with your scans, then archiving would be the choice for you. Modern scanning equipment can sometimes capture more detail than a piece of film or print contains, so the highest resolution possible is not always the best choice. Continue reading

Genealogy: Scanning recommendations by image type

Genealogy: Scanning recommendations by image typeBy Barry J. Ewell

As you preserve your family history, you come across a variety of image types (e.g., documents, maps, and photographs) each requiring thought and consideration about its preservation and digitization.  Each image will have multiple uses and needs to be planned for.

Master files (sometimes called archival files) are the source files for all other digital files and ensure the long-term usability of the digital information. Master files should be saved in TIFF file format—they should not be compressed, altered or resized. Master files should be stored on a stable medium and should remain in a controlled environment. Continue reading

Genealogy: Scanning digital images

Genealogy: Print scans vs. film scansBy Barry J. Ewell

As a genealogist, I have found the opportunity to digitally preserve 75% of the artifacts, documents and photos that represent my family’s heritage using the flatbed scanner.  Over 50% of the digital images I have come from other members of my family who have allowed me to scan what they have.  In many instances I have gone to another person’s home and set-up my scanner on a desk or kitchen table.  I have scanned:

  • Photographs: Scanning photographs for printing, for Web pages, for Windows wallpaper, for emailing images to friends and relatives, images for newsletters or genealogical notebooks, and for PowerPoint slides shown at meetings and conferences.   Since my photos are digitized I am now able to use editing software such as Adobe Elements and Photoshop to mend and enrich photos, combine images, create special effects, crop out unwanted images, and an endless number of options. Continue reading

Genealogy: Digitizing text with your scanner and OCR software

Genealogy: Digitizing text with your scanner and OCR softwareBy Barry J. Ewell

As a genealogist, I have my fair share of copied and printed material that range from family history books and stories to documentation. I am fine with most of the material simply being stored as digital images of the work; however, there are situations where I prefer to take the document and turn it into a Word document (doc) for easy distribution and sharing.  In these instances, I use Optical Character Recognition (OCR).    Continue reading

Genealogy: How to get better scans and images using the histogram

Genealogy: How to get better scans and images using the histogramBy Barry J. Ewell

The simplest way to obtain better scans is to correct and improve the contrast of the image which also improves colors using the Histogram tool in your scanner or photo editing program.  This concept can really be used for any image, be it a digital image from a digital camera, scanner, or other source. Continue reading

Genealogy: Being organized for a large volume of scans

Being organized for a large volume of scansBy Barry J. Ewell

Here are a few tips for organizing, scanning and archiving your photos and slides:

  • The first and most important step in scanning a collection of photos or slides is to make the hard decisions about what you want to scan. A good rule of thumb is that you should only scan one out of five pictures from a roll of film. Most people can go through a set of 36 photos or slides and quickly see the 7 or 8 they would like to scan. Continue reading