Posts Tagged ‘Picture This’

Some of my customers don’t know where to start. They open their closet doors and view the disorganization of the photos and videos and then close the door again. It seems overwhelming. But they want to experience again the memories that these photos hold – to see them displayed on their computers during the day, to share with family members, or to archive them for future generations.

Call Picture This! to help you get organized

Actually organizing and labeling the photos isn’t that difficult. Here is a step-by-step guide to get things in order so that Picture This! can scan in your photos or slides for you. We offer consulting services to help you with this task, but it is one easily done by you if you have the time.

  1. Get several cardboard file folder boxes, some hanging files and individual file folders. This works well if you have varying sizes of photos, or perhaps some mementos as well. If all of your photos are 4 x 6 inches, then archival photo boxes work well. You will need a permanent marker to write on the file folders or the index cards in the archival boxes. Some small Stickie notes might also come in handy.
  2. Find a working space that can be used for about 2 -3 weeks in your leisure time. A dining room table or large desk works well. Pull out all of the photos and photo albums. Don’t forget all the treasured photos that are in frames on the walls.
  3. You have to decide on one of two methods to organize your photos; either by year that the photo was taken, or by person or family that is in the photo itself.
    1. If most of your photos are in albums, they might be more easily organized by date and event (example: 1964 – Kate & Bill wedding).
    2. If your photos are loose or in envelopes as they were returned from the photo developer, then sorting them by person might be the easiest.
  4. Mark each folder or archival box for each person or year. An example list of folders for Kate & Bill Bolten’s family, which includes their 3 children Eddie, James, & Susan might be:
    • Young Kate with Temple Family (Kate’s maiden name)
    • Kate’s ancestors
    • Young Bill with Bolton Family
    • Bill’s ancestors
    • Kate & Bill together (dating and wedding)
    • Eddie’s childhood
    • James’s childhood
    • Susan’s childhood
    • Family group photos of young family
    • Holidays
    • Eddie & Karen (Eddie when grown and wife Karen with their children)
    • James & Jenny (James and wife Jenny)
    • James & Linda (James and second wife Linda with children)
    • Susan & Larry (Susan and husband Larry)
    • Miscellaneous
    • Large group family photos of extended families
    • Pets
    • Family Friends

    OR just label each by year that the photo was taken if you have that information.

  5. Place the files into the file folder box or open the archival boxes. Open the first envelope of photos and pull out the photos. As you take out each photo, place it in the appropriate file or envelope. If you are using archival boxes, then mark the index cards in the boxes with these categories and place the photos behind the appropriate index card separators. Take a few moments to reminisce, but try to be expedient about sorting the photos. After they are scanned, you will have much time to enjoy the images and memories. If there isn’t an existing folder or index card, label a new one and continue.
  6. If there are loose photos that you don’t want scanned, you can indicate this by keeping them in a separate box or by giving us direction about avoiding bad photos, all photos that don’t have people in them, or duplicate or similar photos.
  7. If photos are in an album, label each album with the year or event so they can be placed in folders on the DVD after they are scanned. There is no need to remove the photos from these albums – Picture This! can remove them and replace the photos for most photo albums. If there are some photos that you don’t want scanned, place a small Stickie note on these photos so that we know to skip them.
  8. Mark framed photos with a sticky note so that they can place in the appropriate folder on the DVD.
  9. Slides are usually in trays or boxes. Leave these slides in the box or tray and label each box or tray if they are not labeled. It is harder to sort out slides that you don’t want unless you have a slide viewer. Most of our customers give us direction about scanning in slides (see note 6 above).

Picture This! will return your photos to you in the boxes or folders as you sorted them. The color optimized scanned images are given to you on a DVD by folder of person or year for you to place on your computer, share with family, and archive for safe-keeping.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

* VHS or reels to DVD
* Scan your photos or slides
* Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.


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My mother - age 8

My mother grew up in the Cumberland area of Tennessee during the Depression. They had no electricity or running water – unless you counted the mountain spring that ran beside her house. My mother was the only female in her house and therefore was in charge of most of the household chores. She cleaned, did the laundry, and cooked for her older brothers and father. According to my mother’s story, all the boys had to do was to provide the wood for heating and cooking. They were free to play all day long.

Her father was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and also owned a store that was adjacent to their home. His wife – my grandmother – ran off with another man when my Mom was 6 months old and proceeded to rob a train. My grandmother served 4 years in prison. (See Archive the Photo AND Tell the Story My grandfather wasn’t home much due to his jobs, but managed to be a rather good single-parent to his 3 sons and young daughter – my Mom. It was a hard life for them all.

Birthdays were very special days for my mother. It was the one day that stood out among the difficult days in her life. It was the one day when she was given the day off from her chores. It was also special to her because her father gave her a dollar bill and told her that she could spend it on anything she wanted in the store.

slide scanning Austin

My Grandfather's store & house

What my mother wanted was candy. It was a precious commodity in the hills of Tennessee, but for my mother’s birthday, my grandfather would stock up on the sweet stuff in his store. My mom was a smart young girl and her father’s favorite. She cleverly asked her father to keep the dollar bill for her for safekeeping. She spent a little bit at a time. For one whole year, all she had to do was to approach her father and ask him for a little bit of her birthday money.

It was the best birthday present – mostly because it lasted an entire year. My mother told the story that she is sure that spent $10 per year on candy – a sizeable sum in the 1920s. That birthday dollar bill was perpetual. Her Dad would play along with the charade and hand her some coins each time she asked for “her birthday money.”

This birthday gift might explain some of the dental problems that my Mom had later in life. But it also explains how her father made her life just a little bit better for my mother when she was growing up. And it only cost him a dollar a year.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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For every story told in my family, there are innumerable mysteries. I wish I had asked more questions of my relatives when they were alive to get answers to those burning questions I have now.

My grandmother

For instance, my father’s mother – the one who had 14 children (see Being a Middle Child, #7 of 14)- once told me when I was a  teenager that she traveled in every state in the United States, except 2. She died in 1981 at the age of 84 and to my knowledge she lived in poverty for most of her life. My grandfather died in 1962 and my grandmother never re-married. I don’t know when or how my grandmother did her traveling. I don’t doubt that she did it, but it surprises me that she had the desire to see our country and that I never heard of her travels.


I went to visit my mother’s mother in Washington, D. C. in 1983. Ruby left my mother’s family when my Mom was  a baby. She reportedly robbed a train and served 3 or 4 years in prison. (see Archive the Photo AND Tell the Story: Ruby)When I visited my grandmother, the woman who I only saw 2 previous times in my life, I was polite with her, caught up on her current life, let her visit with my 18 month old son, but didn’t ask her too questions about her life. For example, what she did after her prison sentence, what her life was like when she was growing up, how she met her husband – my grandfather, and was it true that she was a secretary for a congressman in Washington, D.C. She did tell me that she grew up Catholic, and that her childhood wasn’t a happy one. She had a doll baby that belonged to my mother that had a ceramic face – and I didn’t ask how it survived her years in prison. I wish I could have that visit over again.

My father - World War II

My Dad was in World War II (see The Front Line) and his war experience at the age of 20 in Europe in the midst of war, must have been incredible. My sisters and I asked him several times about his war years, but he refused to talk about it. We knew he was injured 3 different times (see blog), but he would only talk about the funny things. We have re-created his trek through Europe and the battles that he must have been in, but it would have been rich to hear his impression of this  personal, but historic adventure.  I relished the 50th anniversary of World War II when veterans of this war finally talked about their years in the war.

All Skate

I came across a website a few months ago that features the untold story.  http://www.AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com accepts personal family photos and stories that leave the website visitor wondering about the circumstances surrounding these submissions. For example http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2010/02/28/all-skate/ shows us a family skating at a local ice rink. I can only wonder about the tradition leading up to this photo.

<Ancestry.com® is having a contest called The Ultimate Family History Journey™ to help their customers find answers to their family mysteries. The winner gets $20,000, 8 hours with a genealogy expert, and additional experts to fill in the blanks. Perhaps that’s how I might get some answers to my questions.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime.

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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So You’re the Family Archivist

It isn’t easy being the family archivist and in charge of database of the family stories, documents, photos, and videos. It takes years to research, collect, and verify the family stories, photos, and videos. It also is a mammoth effort to organize this information with a timeline and familial relationships to  give to generations of family members. Where do you start and how do you get a handle on this task? Take a look at these tools that will help you as you take on the role of family historian.

Gathering The Information

Scan photo


Start by asking around the family for stories and photos. Interview your older relatives. Let them know that you are starting the project of gathering and archiving the family story. My Aunt Bert passed along letters that my Dad had written her in World War II when he was just 19. And the only color photograph of me as a child was given to me by my aunt after my parents died. If your relatives don’t remember what might be in that memory box in the closet, ask them to look. Or sit down with them as they go through the box and ask them detailed questions about those photos, making notes as you discuss or set up a video camera to record the details of the conversation.

Look online. The internet is a haven of great information. Cyndi’s List of Genealogy sites has a plethora of links that will help you in your search to find the missing information and also tools to help you organize it. Genealogy Bank is the largest database of historical newspapers from around the country. I found an article from 1897 about my grandfather as a teenager. I also found about 25 articles about my father growing up. It is not a free database, but they do have short-term subscriptions.

Article from Newspaper Archive

Some software packages enable accessing online databases, such as census information. Here is a review of the features of the Top Ten genealogy software packages for a PC and here is a spreadsheet with a listing and features for the Top Ten genealogy software packages for a Mac. Don’t forget about the Ancestry.com as well. It is probably the best known aid in online searches for information. They have discussion groups that allow access to family members only.

Get your kids involved. The Unwritten – Saving your photo Stories for the Future is a website that focuses on children. This website has excellent tips and teaching components for children.

If family members live around the country, set up Google Docs, which is a sharing site where all family members can access the same document. Use this document to write about your ancestors and family and encourage others to add to it. Emphasize that no one is right or wrong about the information – that each entry is just a piece of the puzzle. Everyone thinks differently and has a separate point of view because of his life experience. Pose questions and allow all to answer. Some software programs also allow private forums or discussions that will allow the same sharing among family members.

Organizing It All And Share It With Others

Tell your Story and archive your photos

Picture This! is a company in Austin, Texas that provides a professional service that helps you sort through your heritage photographs. Picture This! digitizes and restores your photos with extreme gentle care. After Picture This! completes the scanning, they return a DVD  with folders of organized heirloom photographs. Often family members add a .pdf document to the folder of photos to complement the photos with the family story.

Videos – reels and tapes – are also digitized by Picture This! for archival purposes and to share with family members. DVD slideshows DVD slideshows and Memory Books are also great options and gifts for family members.

Blogs are great way to pair the family story with photos. It might be cumbersome to write a book, but taking each family story, one at a time, and presenting it in a blog to share with family members is manageable for the writer and for the reader. Picture This! has a blog called Sharing Your Family’s Memories dedicated to telling the family story. Other examples and helpful tips for writing a blog is found at Writing Your Memories and Genealogy Wise. Triggers for writing about family stories is found in a booklet called “Memoring my Memories” by Emily Aulicino. WordPress and Blogger are both free online blogging software sites.

iPhoto is a Mac photo software package that enhances photo organization with facial recognition and editable metadata. This software organizes photos by album, by event, or by person.

Memory Miners goes one step further and uses genealogy software to integrate heirloom photos into the timelines and family tree. There are people views and map views and it creates a GEDCOM family tree complete with photos. Add audio and video recordings with text annotations to complete the family story.

Story Corps is an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening. They collect stories across the country. They have a list of questions to use when getting started with your interview, and they have a mobile bus that travels from city to city with equipment to make a recording of your family story.

LifeStories Alive makes personal history videos for families using their heritage. They create family heirloom in video – digitally mastered records of life stories with personal accounts, photos, and mementos of family history.

Tell me Your Story is another company that preserves your family history. Located in Austin, Texas, this company produces a book from oral interviews that are audio taped. Photos and documents complete the pertinent story. An embossed hardback book on archival paper is the finished product. Contact them directly to get more information.

Back It All Up

After doing all the research and organization, don’t forget the last step. Put this information on reliable media and have it stored in more than one place. Archival DVDs  last 100 years if stored properly. Make sure to back up any information that you have online. Make duplicate copies of photos and videos to a DVD or hard drive. Send this second copy to a place outside your house (sister’s house or safe deposit box) in case of fire. Don’t rely on photo sharing websites for  your backup. The images stored online are usually small and not large enough for archival purposes.

Generations from now, our children and grandchildren will not tiptoe into our closets and retrieve “the box” of photos and documents that tell our story. With a bit of concentrated effort and some guidance from these resources, our stories will be richer and more accessable for those who are seeking their family story.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime.

Picture This! http://www.picturethisaustin.com

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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My mother and her College friends Fall 1941

My mother and her College friends Fall 1941

I distinctly remember my mother telling me about her life her first year of college at Tennessee Martin Teacher’s College. She started college when she was 16 and was one of the youngest there. She was on the school women’s basketball team and basketball was big in Tennessee. It was played with half-court rules then.  She had many friends and dated many different fellows during this first year. After her hard life in Appalachia, she was at her pinnacle at Tennessee Martin. She was carefree and enjoyed getting to know the young men and women in her classes.

How different it was from her second year there. This was 1942 – the first year of World War II. They started the year all together. But at semester break, war was declared against Japan. Instead of returning to school, all of the men reported to basic training. Her class was one-half the size that it was the preceding year. All of the men were gone. That year the fun and laughter was measured.

Uncle Warren entering WWII

Uncle Warren entering WWII

My mother’s older 3 brothers enlisted right away into the Navy. Her oldest brother Warren was seriously dating a young woman named Dimple (her real name!). And he left for the Pacific Ocean without making a commitment to their relationship. He was at war for three years and returned home to Tennessee when the war was over to find that Dimple was married to a fellow that was excused from participating in the war. As the story goes, my uncle either didn’t write to Dimple during those years or perhaps he did and the letters were not delivered. He was devastated to find his love was married.

A few years later, he married a young lady that he knew from the area and they moved to Indiana. We visited them often as they lived just a few hours from our family. My mother and her brother were very close. After 25 years of marriage, my Uncle Warren’s wife died from breast cancer. He had no family in Indiana and returned to Tennessee often to visit his brother there.

After one visit to Tennessee, he returned to Indiana alone. Almost after the instant that he opened the door to his empty home, the phone was ringing. It was his old girlfriend Dimple. Her husband died 19 years previously and she had heard that Warren was in Tennessee recently. Would he consider going to lunch with her the next time he came to visit his brother?

Uncle Warren, Dimple, and my mohter

Uncle Warren, Dimple, and my mother

Uncle Warren drove immediately to our home to talk to my mother about it. She knew Dimple from their growing up years. He asked my mother if she thought it would be OK if he returned to Tennessee to see his previous girlfriend. My mother gave her blessing and was in fact delighted to her that Dimple was interested in seeing him again. He then drove to Tennessee to visit his brother again and to rekindle the relationship with Dimple that he started 35 years earlier.

Uncle Warren and Dimple married a few weeks later. I wish you could have seen the love that they had for each other. You could observe it with their every action. It was mutual adoration for the 16 years they were married. He would talk and she would tilt her chin up to listen to his words while locking the gaze from his eyes. They would talk to each other and sometimes appearing to be unaware that others were in the room. She was ill toward the end of their marriage and he would cater to her every need. His purpose was to serve her. He did it with joy. They were kind and gentle and sweet to each other in every encounter I saw them have. If ever two people were meant to be together, I believe it was my Uncle Warren and his love Dimple.

Uncle Warren died November of 2000. I traveled to Tennessee for the funeral with my sister and we visited with Dimple who was hospitalized the day of the funeral. She was truly suffering from a broken heart. They didn’t spend their entire lives together. But it wasn’t the number of the years together that mattered. It was the amount of love during the time they had together that counted. How beautiful that they ended up together after being separated by war.

Committed to telling the Family Story.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime.

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.


Copyright 2009, All rights reserved.

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I grew up in a Brethren church or rather my parents dropped us off at a nearby Brethren church every Sunday morning. The Church of the Brethren is rather like a Mennonite church. Their “Thou Shalt Nots” number far more than the Ten Commandments. Most specifically, our church didn’t believe in war. There was a volunteer service available to any young men who would be drafted, as they could easily get a 4F status for being a conscientious objector.

Picture This Austin EasterWe felt very welcome there, even without our parents attending with us.  I was sure if I ever heard God talk, He would sound just like Pastor Fells sounded. He had a big booming voice that was clear and kind, deep and warm. His words made sense to me and I felt the community and God’s love that existed there.

It was a bit strange for us to be orphans in our church, orphans in the sense that our parents didn’t attend with us.  We attended Sunday school and then went directly into the church service. I was the oldest girl in our family, so I would round up my three younger sisters and find a place for us to sit together. Our aunt and uncle would include us in their pew, but sometimes we would get moved from one pew to another so that entire families could sit together. I don’t remember getting in trouble for talking or anything, but I’m sure our behavior wasn’t perfect for four young girls under the age of 11. My older brother attended with us sometimes, but he was five years older and probably sat with his teenage friends.

I remember one sermon when I was a teenager that stressed the importance of Baptism and being saved. I was ready to go to the altar to ask to be saved, baptized and then become a member of the church. But before I got the courage to do it, I wanted to ask my parents why they didn’t go to church. Because if they didn’t go to church, would they go to heaven? It concerned me greatly that if we went to church without them, we could also end up in heaven without them.

Campbell0011 - Version 2I asked my Mom  about it first. She had alluded to an incident that happened to her when she was young. She didn’t grow up with her mother as I have explained previously in the post Archive the Photo AND Tell the Story: Ruby. After her mother left their household, my mother attended a church and was surrounded by the women of her church who prayed for my mother. My mother was sensitive and ashamed that her mother was in prison and felt that she was being condemned by these women. She thought they expected her to also end up as her mother had. My mother avoided church all of her adult life because of this incident. She assured me that she didn’t think it was necessary to attend church. She didn’t like being “religious”, instead explained that she was spiritual and believed in Jesus.

It was harder to talk to my dad about it. He joked about everything, and this seemed a serious subject, one that we tended to avoid in our family. I approached him and simply asked him to go to church with us next Sunday, that I was going to be saved and I wanted him to be there. And I asked him if thought about getting into heaven. I will never forget his words and his tone. He was deeply serious and his voice trembled – I couldn’t tell if from anger  or conviction. He told me that it was impossible to dig  a foxhole one morning during WWII and know that while you were digging it that you would be wounded by enemy fire that day. And he was hit by enemy fire that day and hospitalized for 10 months for injuries sustained during that attack. (See The Front Line) He said he knew his relationship with God was solid and that he made his peace with God during that time. I replied “Yes Sir” and didn’t push the matter of him attending my baptism.

I knew that our family was not the usual church family. My parents didn’t feel the need for church. But for some reason, they dropped off us off every Sunday. They gave us the gift of deciding for ourselves. And I do think that it was part of God’s plan.


Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime.

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2009 – All rights reserved.

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My mother

My mother

My mother grew up on the edge. It was the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, but it was in reality it was the edge of society. She was the youngest of 4 children in a one-parent family. Her father was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and her mother spent a few years in prison for robbing a train (See Archive the Photo AND Tell the Story:Ruby ).

As much as my mother told us what her life was growing up in poverty, I don’t think we ever fully grasped what her day-to-day tasks were like. There was no electricity and no inside plumbing. She washed the family clothing down at the spring. Her brothers made a fire in the stove in the kitchen every evening before my mother cooked dinner for the family. They all ate beans and cornbread every day for dinner. My mother reportedly never owned a dress, instead dressing in her brothers’ hand-me-downs. And these hardships were before the Depression started.

But even though there was extreme poverty in may parts of the Appalachian  Mountains, my mother’s family was set apart from the others in the area. They were children from a divorced family and their mother had been in prison. My mother and her siblings were seen as outcasts by some.

My grandmother came back to town when my mother was 5 years old. She was trying to get some of her children back to live with her and her future husband. My mother heard from her father that her mother was going to marry a “half-wit”. My mother sobbed for hours that night. When her father persisted to find out what was wrong. She admitted that she didn’t want her name changed to “Mary Half-Wit”. She told the story in a humorous way, but we could feel the pain of her childhood trying to come to grips with this situation.

Campbell0011 - Version 4My mother told us the story about going to church when she was about 13 years old. She attended with a girlfriend, even though she didn’t have the appropriate clothing. She felt scorned because of this. At some part of the service, all the women from the church gathered around her and prayed over my mother. It may have been a religious ceremony for young teenagers in her church. But in my mother’s eyes, she was being punished for her family’s situation and for her mother’s sins. She never returned to any church except for the few times her children were in Christmas pageants and when we got married. She didn’t belong.

My mother attended teacher’s college at the age of 16 and graduated the year after World War II started. She taught for a year and hated it. She tried different careers, and eventually in 1946 moved to Lima, Ohio where her brother and sister-in-law lived.

Lil - my mother's best friend

Lil - my mother's best friend

She didn’t try to fit in with society there. She worked in a factory and became friends with other women who were seen as “not proper”. She didn’t try to hide her differences and instead she and her friends created their own societal rules. (I later learned some amazing – even scandalous – stories about these women.) They became life-long friends, bound by their similar situations. With them she felt respected, valued and loved. When my mother was with them, she belonged and felt normal. When they were not around, she felt different from most.

They were with her when she gave birth to her first son, fathered by a railroad man who did not marry her. They were her family and part of our lives, becoming more like a grandmother to us than a family friend. Even with their support, I’m not sure my mother ever overcame this feeling of being on the outside looking in. She grew up in poverty without a mother. But with the help of her friends, she found a place to belong.


Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime.

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2009, All rights reserved.

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