Documenting Family History Artefacts
I recently completed a sad but interesting and rewarding assignment. Sad, as it was what was left of a couple’s life and interesting and rewarding as I worked through the items to piece together these people’s lives and achievements.
I had documents including a 14,000-word Dissertation that was scanned, (OCR) Optically Character Recognised and saved as a PDF. Personal items (Medals and Badges) were recorded on camera and photographs were scanned. As luck would have it, many were identified on the rear of the photographs and so the double-sided scanner came in very useful providing an ‘A’ and ‘B’ image allowing researchers to see where and when the photographs were taken and quite importantly who was in it.
There were other items including the Wedding Album, invitations, order or service and table menu, various awards dinners and running orders, newspaper articles, family correspondence and funeral service cards. Even prompting cards for a speech.
As I worked through the various documents it became apparent just what lovely people they were, how they mattered to their family and community and also the very deep bond between the couple at the centre of the assignment. There were some lovely shots of them together and it was a privilege to work on this box of artefacts and document it so that future generations might be able to see who their relatives were, where they lived, what they got up to and it felt to me, after 2 days work in documenting it all, that I’d almost grown to know this couple.
Parts of the collection are being offered to interested parties including the Scouting movement and a Museum and the rest will remain in the hands of the family archivist. All the scans and documents are being made available to the wider family.
This was a different type of job as I was scanning everything from newspapers, menu cards, orders of service, invitations as well as my more familiar photographs. Many photos were in albums (which requires a different sort of scanning style) and the artefacts were photographed and where possible scanned as well. The Dissertation needed to be scanned page by page which took a lot of time but was worthwhile as it captured an interesting document for future generations.
Many family historians want to make their work available to a wider audience and scanning records and items of interest achieves this. An interesting project to work on and one which I hope will help them and future generations to learn about real people’s lives.
Our work isn’t just about scanning batches of photographs, in cases like this it is about documenting people’s lives and hopefully, by doing this, they and their wider contributions to their community and those around them will not be forgotten.