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Gift Idea No. 9 – Creating Your Online Family Archive of Photos and Videos

November 27, 2012

Despite all of its downsides, the power of today’s online world can be amazing.

Particularly when it comes to making your family’s photos and videos more accessible and more meaningful than ever.

With companies making it easier than ever to share media online with those close to you, even if they live on the other side of the world, there are almost no limits to what you car share and how you share it.

Confused? Don’t be.

Because we at Priceless Photo Preservation can help you – whether it’s launching an online archive that only you and those closest to you can access. Or taking it one step further by integrating your archive with your family tree so that picture of aunts, uncles and distant relatives are instantly accessible at the click of a mouse.

Before we talk about these grandiose ideas, however, we need to start at the beginning. For example, let’s consider a photo album put together by your grandmother.

You have done everything right when it comes to this photo album. You’ve put it in an acid-free archival box; stored in a cool, dark and dry place; and handled it with utmost care when you have taken it out of its box.

But this album, as it stands now, is of limited use to you and your family.

Only one person has permanent access to the photos inside the albums. And access is limited to the times you take it out of storage. There may be photos of sisters, uncles and cousins of your mother that would be especially meaningful to other relatives, but chances are they will never see them, share stories about them or even make their own copies of these images.

Unless you turn to us at Priceless Photo Preservation. Yes, because we are professional archivists trained at handling fragile material, we are one of the few companies that scans entire albums without removing photos or affecting their integrity as discussed in this earlier post. But we can do much more than that.

The last few years have demonstrated the power of Web 2.0 when it comes to public archives. The Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and the New York Public Library are among dozens of institutions that have uploaded significant portions of their collections to photo-sharing sites such as the Flickr Commons or a new non-profit initiative called Omeka that gives museums and libraries the tools to easily create online exhibits.

Believe it or not, you could have the some benefits that libraries and museums are now enjoying by making their collections more publicly available.

Consider this. Amid all your photos and albums, you probably have a few “mysteries” that you would like to solve. Who is that man standing next to your mother in that 1953 photo? What is this large family gathering from the 40s that appears to have taken place on a boat dock somewhere? And is this vintage family photo of your grandmother’s family – or your great-grandfather’s family?

If you upload these and other photos to an online archive, you may find the answer to these questions. The more eyes in your extended family that see these “mystery” photos, the better chance you have of solving these puzzles.

When the Library of Congress initiated the Flickr Commons project in 2009, they uploaded 3,000 images – many of which had limited descriptions (if any) attached to the photo. Within a few months, as hundreds of thousands of people perused these photos and commented on them, they had collected additional data that was substantial and verifiable  on 500 of them – or one-sixth of what it uploaded.

An online archive will not only bring families closer together but also serve as a continuing resource regarding family history. Beneath each photo, family members will be able to leave comments, impart information or even pose their own questions. Some will even take it upon themselves to upload their own items from their personal collection. You may see photos of your grandparents you’ve never seen before.

Many websites also allow you to upload videos. This is especially useful if you have PPP digitize your old home movies from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. We can make these movies available on the internet.

Concerned that you want these items to stay “within the family?” No problem. We can show you simple ways to keep the content of your archives unlisted or make them available to only those with a password.

Believe it or not, you can take it a step further. Some sites allow you to upload digital family trees – and then integrate it with the archive’s photos, so you’ll be able to find all the family photos where your Uncle Bob appears.

At Priceless Photo Preservation, we can help make all of these essential tools available to you and your family – and ensure that the legacy of these photos, films and albums last for years to come.

Of course, any of our services are available as a gift. Any service you choose to purchase, we can provide to your friends on your behalf.

As always, if you are interested, drop us a line at pricelessphotopreservation@gmail.com  or call us at 734-219-3916. We offer pickup and drop-off service throughout southeast Michigan and northwestern Ohio. We work with photos, slides, films, videos and even family photo albums and scrapbooks. We are now serving the Grand Rapids area as well with the same services.

Stay tuned for our next gift suggestion on Thursday.

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