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Worth a Thousand Words

Several years ago, I came across Kenton County Public Library’s online photo database and fell in love with idea. I ran with it and Marion Memories was born. I’m constantly asking people to donate their photos for inclusion. My friend Lee Potter Morgeson has been the largest contributor to the collection, bringing in flash drives full of scanned photos or occasionally emailing or sending the images and descriptions via Facebook. Of course, I don’t expect images to be scanned when they’re donated – I’m more than happy to scan your originals for you and give them and digital images back to you. If you want to donate the originals, they’ll go into archival sleeves after scanning to be placed in our family files.


In discussing this with a member of our Heritage Hounds group last month, I was asked about scanners and if I had any preference. To be honest, I don’t. Scanners have come a LONG way since I used to work on computers. The giant, bulky flatbed scanners that would sometimes take several minutes to scan one photo have been replaced by sleek scanners in a variety of sizes and price points. Just check out PC Magazines article “The Best Photo Scanners of 2017” in the “For further reading” section to see a sampling of what’s out there.


If you’re looking for something portable, most of us carry a camera with us at all times – our smart phones. If you’re carrying around a phone, digital camera or tablet with the capability to take high-resolution photos, you can use your camera for not just photo reproduction, but also to take photographs of documents and turn them into PDFs. Just make sure to turn that flash off, especially around any archival documents.


There are also handheld wand scanners which, if you have a steady hand, are perfect for taking to archives or relatives’ homes to do scanning. If you decide to go this route, just make sure you practice scanning at home before venturing out. You don’t want to get home after a day of scanning to find out that you’ve got wavy lines or interruptions from lifting the scanner mid scan. There are also some wand scanners that will actually auto-feed your photo or document through, but remember – you don’t want to use something like this on an old, fragile item. For those items, a flatbed scanner or a digital camera will be needed. There are even portable flatbed scanners out there, useful for smaller photos. For more information about digitizing items for genealogy, check out “Digitizing Genealogy – Scanners vs. Cameras” below.


For further reading: