I’ll wait until I have time.
I’ll wait until I retire.
I’ll get my things organized first.
I’ll decide how everything will be organized first.
Here’s my answer to those four statements:
Don’t wait. Life intervenes. There won’t ever be a “right time.”
Retirement will end up being full other activities.
Really? That’s may take forever.
Again…that’s going to take forever.
Friend and fellow genealogist Kerry Scott issued a plea for her fellow genealogists to just go ahead and scan their personal family ephemera sooner rather than later. Wildfires in her area drove the point home to her that scanning items could not wait.
I’m in agreement.
My advice based somewhat on Kerry’s comments and my own experience with a significant collection of photographs and other items–do it now. Scan/photograph/digitize the material as you have it now. It does not matter if it is not organized perfectly. It does not matter if it you do not have the perfect organization plan in mind for the images you create.
Just do it and be consistent.
If photographs are in boxes, envelopes, or albums, photograph the boxes, the envelopes, and the album cover and pages. This preserves the original structure of the materials. This is helpful if you have obtained materials for different relatives or families over the years. Then you know which items were originally stored or kept together. Of course everyone has a random box of random items, but there is a chance that there’s some structure to what you have–you just don’t know it yet.
Just make images.
Resist the urge to wax nostalgic about people in the pictures. Resist the urge to try and identify people in pictures who are not identified. Resist the urge to start researching people in pictures who are identified but about whom you know nothing.
Scan. Make images. Get that done. Don’t start going through them until you have:
- completed the digitization process.
- backed up your images somewhere.
- saved them to the cloud.
- made certain others who are interested in the images have them or have easy access to them.
Again: Scan. Make images. Get that done. Life and natural disasters happen. Your children who don’t care about the stuff may happen if your demise comes before you expect.
Then once the images are made, there’s more work to be done (organize them, preserve and organize originals, identify unknown items, etc.. But at least you have images.
Photograph any non-paper family history items and preserve those images as well.