Sunday, November 4, 2012

21COFH - Scanning Letters - Week 45

This is the last week of our multi-week project working with family papers. Last week we did an item level inventory. This week it's time to digitize the documents.

I'm still working with Dad's correspondence from his childhood and early adult years.

Before beginning, here are some factors to consider. My comments are in italics.
  • IF you are using a flatbed scanner, make sure the glass is clean.
  • Decide if you will be scanning envelopes. I will be.
  • Will you be scanning both sides of each page regardless of whether there is anything on it or not?
    • Yes, that way I know for sure what was or wasn't on the backside of each paper.
  • What file format(s) will you use? JPG, TIFF, PDF? Other?
    • Since Dad's letters are important documents, I will scan them using TIFF format. It's a "loss-less" format and widely accepted so it should be readable by future programs. I may also convert them to pdf.
  • What dpi (resolution) will you use?
    • Normally I like to use 600 dpi but for letters, 300 dpi will be fine.
  • Decide on your file naming scheme.
    • Since these files will reside together in a folder on my computer, and I would like them to sort by date, the file name will be something like this:
      • yyyy-mm-dd_LastName_FirstName_to_Name_letter.
      • The date will be the date of the letter or the date of the postmark.
      • If the document has multiple pages, p01, p02, etc. will be appended to the file name.
  • Decide where on your hard drive the files will reside and what the folder structure will be.
    • I set up a folder called Family Archive. Each folder inside will represent a box of documents. The next folder level will represent Dad's Correspondence. All of the scanned letters will go in there.
  • Is there any labeling of your physical folders that still needs to be done?
    • I haven't done this and am still debating on the format. I'll get back to you on this!
  • Decide what metadata, if any, you are going to include.
    • When I import into the Lightroom Cagalog, I will add tags such as Dad's name and his parents names, where appropriate. For the letters relating to his Navy Days the tags and "Military" or "Navy"  can be added.
    • Ideally I would like to include a source citation in the Description field but in reality that might be a bit ambitious right now. The information needed to do this has been documented through this entire process in my OneNote "Project Notebook." It won't be a problem to go back and create them on an as needed basis.
Several days ago, Moultrie Creek Gazette posted, A Letter Archive Option, where she discussed using Keynote in digitizing a series of old letters. Check it out!

Time to start scanning! Questions? Comments? You know what to do!

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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Michelle, this has been a great series! I've picked up several great ideas from you. And, thanks for the shout out too.

  2. Very helpful!! I have a few shoeboxes of letters belonging to my grandparents and this helps make it seem less intimidating!

    1. Once you get set up and going it does go pretty fast.