Tuesday, November 13, 2012

21COFH - Letter Scanning Work Flow

This week we are wrapping up our project to digitize some of our family papers. I am working with some of Dad's letters from hid early years.

After tinkering around with all of the steps necessary to scan Dad's letters, I've finally settled in. Here are the steps I am taking.

  • Dad's letters are already in individual folders so I am working with one folder at a time.
1.  Using the item level inventory I set up in OneNote, I came up with a file name for each file. Doing this up front helped make sure I was consistent in naming files. I also decided to give each folder a number and included this on the inventory form. It will help with locating the physical letters at a later date.

2.  Next I wrote the folder ID on each of the folders.

3.  Scan the contents of one folder at a time. (Do steps 4-6 before scanning the next folder.)

At this point I decided to change my work flow for the remaining steps. First I'll describe what I was doing initially. Then I'll tell you how I changed it to incorporate Lightroom.

4. Since the files are automatically named (scan0001, etc.), I renamed each file using the filenames from step 1. The filenames are already in OneNote so this step is a simple copy and paste.

5. Using Photoshop Elements, I added identifying metadata to each file, such as my contact info, so anyone who gets a copy of any of these files in the future will know where it came from.

6. Also using Photoshop Elements, I added some tags. I decided to go with Dad's name, and Correspondence or Letters for all of the files. Then depending on the letter, I might add Military or Navy, and if the letter was from a family member I included that person's name. For this step you need to think about how your brain retrieves information and add tags accordingly. Everyone is different. What's important is that you can search using a tag and locate the files you want.

7. When all of the file folders have been scanned, they will go back into their designated spot in Dad's box of papers.

Here's what I changed using Lightroom (steps 4-6):

Note: I have a Lightroom catalog just for family history.

4. Once in Lightroom, locate the files from the folder I just scanned and prepare to import (add) that group of files to the catalog.
  • I set up what is called a Metadata Preset with my contact information and the Tags that will be applied to every single letter. So this will be automatically done on import.
  • Input the filename for this group of files.
  • After importing, if there were any additional tags I wanted to apply to just that letter, I did so.
That's it. I just keep doing those steps over and over. Not the most exciting stuff but I'm confident it will prove worthwhile in the future.

Hopefully this helps. If you have questions or comments, let us know in the comments section. Good luck this week.

URL for this post: http://turning-of-generations.blogspot.com/2012/11/21cofh-letter-scanning-work-flow.html

© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Loved this. I have a whole stack of letters between my paternal grandparents while they were dating. Now I know what to do with them... Thanks!