Why Archive Your Family Photos?

Why Archive Your Family Photos?

I have a story to tell – we all do – and future generations need to hear it. I don’t want to be forgotten – I want my legacy to live on and be valued by those who come after. And I would like to do proper honor to my folks and theirs… and theirs.

And the story I have for my daughter contains photos: I’ll tell her about her crazy great grandfather, for instance, but the story is lots better if she can see him, too. That’s him at the upper left of this page, and the reason he’s there is because his photo was scanned, restored, and archived.

But that’s just one of our photos: how ‘bout the rest? Our photos are a bit like the shoemaker’s kids: things keep getting in the way of archiving all of our photos. And the world is uncertain: who knows what tomorrow will hold? For example, will my mother be around next year to tell me her story (and tell me who is in some of these photos)? Will I be able to tell my story next year? It’s rough to lose someone or something irreplaceable – especially when you could have preserved the legacy.

You probably have a box of photographs in your closet or under your bed – or worse, in the attic, garage, or basement. You might have several boxes. Most of the photos are probably unlabeled, and ALL of them are fading. Fire, flood and mice threaten, too.
By archiving your photos, these are the benefits you will enjoy:

  • Photos that don’t deteriorate fade or get damaged by water, fire or mice;
  • Photos preserved for future generations;
  • Photos with colors restored and lighting improved;
  • Photos with labels and commentary, so your kids (and theirs) will know what they’re seeing;
  • Copies for all of your kids and extended families;
  • Protection against physical deterioration or the technology becoming obsolete (copies stored in at least two forms); and
  • Protection against local and regional disasters (copies stored in at least two places).

Once you have your key photos scanned into your computer, in case you didn’t see it in the list above, be sure to store them in at least two places and in at least two formats. The best format may be the new M-Disc, which the Department of Defense seems to like for archival work (you can get a burner and some discs for under $100 at ). These are expensive discs (just under $3 each) but they claim 1000 year durability. That seems a bit optimistic that the technology to read the discs will still be around, but it beats the standard CDs (you’ll see estimates from five years and up). Key trick, if you’re using CDs, is to reburn them every five years. Hard Drives are considered pretty stable, too, and the cost per megabyte is actually cheaper than optical media.