Working With Family History Documents

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How Do I Organize All Those Documents?

Organizing your family history documents is very important for you to be able to find them each time they are needed.
You will need to decide whether you want to store them all as PAPER documents, or as DIGITAL documents. The definite advantage to storing documents digitally is that they can easily be shared with others. They are also kept safe from physical harm, as long as you are following the "3-2-1 Backup Strategies" to preserve them.

But how do you organize all those files so they can be easily found? Storing them on a computer in a disorganized fashion can also create a frustrating situation when you can not find them.

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What Can I Do With My Family's Old Letters?

"The Best Option"

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A document scanner is a great solution for preserving those old paper documents to a digital and shareable format. Document scanners can scan single or double sided documents at upwards of 30 pages per minute. They will scan ALL the pages into a SINGLE file called a "Portable Document Format" file, also known as PDF.

What about those old documents that are too fragile to go through a document scanner? These are best done scanning each page on a flatbed scanner, however this results in multiple "photo" pages (page1, page2, page3, etc).

How do you take all those separate images of the document pages and combine them into ONE digital file? To best keep the single pages together and and in sequence, this can be done with purchased PDF creation software. However, there are also some very basic free online "image to PDF" convertors that are simple to use.

  1. https://jpg2pdf.com
  2. https://www.convert-jpg-to-pdf.net
The images are dragged onto a "receiving box" on the webpage, and then the upload process begins. Once the process is completed, you download your file from the site.

Don't Get Rid of Your Scanned Documents!

Now that my documents are scanned, I can toss them, right? NO! Remember that digital files are only good as long as they are backed up and securely stored. Physical documents are also fun for others to look at. Can you imagine holding and reading a letter dated from 1839. I have several letters from the 1800s, and the are very special to have.

How do you store them? We'll talk more about that later.

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Unless we actively take steps to save our heritage, both that of our ancestors and our own, it will be quickly lost to subsequent generations!

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Stephen A Meyers
Idaho Falls, Idaho

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