Many people are beginning to see the value of celebrating their family history through the creation of digital albums. These special heritage or historical photo books can pass along the stories as well as the photographs to the generations to come.
A family heritage album does often take more time to make than some of the quick family albums many of us are making these days. You will want to spend a bit of time sorting the photographs, choosing the ones that best represent the stories you know or would like to tell about your family’s history, and then scanning and organizing the photos for the album.
On the other hand, you can also keep things simple and choose to limit the scope of your project so you can complete it more quickly. Instead of narrating the story of your entire family on your mother’s side, for example, begin with one album highlighting your mother’s life. This way, you can include any photos from her childhood that you would like without feeling the need to find out or write down the entire story and genealogy that goes with them.
Another tip is to ask for help identifying and sorting your photos. Sometimes items like albums, negatives, and framed photos are passed down to certain members of the family. Check with any siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins to see who has inherited heritage photographs from parents and grandparents. If you do not live too far away, ask to accompany your family member to your local copy shop where you can have the items scanned. Setting a date for doing this is often better than asking your relative to do the leg work for you—like most of us, tackling the pile of black and white photos is often put off for another day! Don’t forget to make copies of the scanned items--have prints made for other members of your family, if your budget allows. If you have a scanner at home and the items to be scanned are not too large, then by all means scan the photos yourself. If this becomes too time consuming, look up a store in your area that specializes in photo restoration or digitalizing images. I have found, though, that even a local copy shop should have a scanner that can scan several photographs at once at a fairly reasonable price. I like that I can then ask for a CD or DVD with all of the images already stored in one place. I find this to be much easier than scanning each photo by hand.
Once you have completed the album, ask around to see if a grandparent or other relative might want to help with the cost of printing the albums. One of my friends showed her albums to her father, and he decided to purchase and send copies to all of the grandchildren as a Christmas gift. Otherwise, consider using this project as a gift to send to siblings, children or nieces and nephews. It is wonderful to know that the photographs and stories will be passed down from this generation to the next.