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Method For: Becoming The Family Historian

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I consider myself an accidental family historian. I didn’t set out to archive my family’s history, it just sort of evolved slowly over time. Looking back across the early decades of my life I can see the two genetic indicators that the job of historian would someday be mine. A father who loved to take pictures. A grandmother who liked to organize her own pictures plus those of her progeny in albums. A kid who latched on to both the photography and the organization. Now it seems so obvious; of course I would end up documenting our family’s photo history! The advent of digital files and scanning really put the job right in my wheelhouse as I love anything that eliminates clutter. So my timeline for becoming the family historian looks something like this:

1977 I get my first camera

First photo I ever took. Christmas Day 1977 – clearly an emerging talent!

1984-88 I take many pictures of various High School pursuits and put them in albums

Aaaahhh….High School in the the 80’s

1988-92 I go even crazier in college and need a big, thick album for each semester. I stay consistent for the first time on album size and style.

College/Sorority Life at Lafayette College in Easton, PA!

1992-1999 Picture-taking takes a backseat to working full time, my pictures are mostly of mine and my friends’ weddings and I don’t have time to put them in albums

My 90’s photos mostly involved weddings, including mine!

2000 I give birth to the first of 3 children and the photos rev up again. I go back to creating albums but also begin purchasing a CD every time I get photos developed

3 babies in 4 years gave me adorable subjects to focus on

2005 I still take most of my pictures with a film camera but switch to getting only CDs and no prints. I upload everything to Shutterfly. I now create albums digitally which is SO much better!

2006 A couple of years out of retirement my dad takes the gazillion slides he has and has them digitized. I’m mesmerized, seeing photos of our family that were buried away and have my dad send me copies of my favorites

My dad digitized a ton of pictures we hadn’t seen in forever, like this classic of a Kremers Family Reunion in ‘74

2008 I get my first DSLR camera and say goodbye to film. I’ve now begun creating a Family Yearbook for each year.

Capturing Whiffle Ball with the DSLR

One of my first shots with my new DSLR Canon Rebel – Brooks practicing his Whiffle Ball skills (no pun intended)

2010 I get my first iPhone and now the pictures really start flowing. Still backing everything up to Shutterfly. I have fun posting the older, scanned pics on social media.

My acquisition of an iPhone in 2010 lead to pictures everywhere, including the grocery store!

2017 My mom has a second stroke and my Dad gets ready to sell their house. During the purging process we come across boxes and boxes of family photos of our family plus both of my parents’ families. I take them home to edit and scan.

We found so many treasures going through the boxes of photos, like this one of my grandparents in the 50’s – I love everything about this photo

2018 My mom passes away and I make 2 slideshow videos, one for the memorial service and one for the big gathering of both sides of the family the night before. I feel so much happiness watching the faces of my aunts, uncles and cousins as decades of pictures flash across the screen

This is the first slide show video I ever created, for my mom’s memorial service. It was amazing to create something so special with all of the pictures I’d been scanning

2019-2020 I now routinely use the pictures accumulated over the 5 decades of my life to create slideshow videos for milestone birthdays, graduations and other momentous occasions. It’s so much fun putting the photos to music and adding some storytelling.

I routinely make these videos now, in fact it’s a service I offer as part of my business. Here is one I made on the occasion of my firstborn’s 21st!

2021 Now retired from my corporate job, I begin Photo Organizing as a part of my broader Professional Organizing business and realize I still have a lot of work to do to sort all of the older pictures that I’ve scanned over the years. COVID also inspires an Oral History project that will be my Christmas Gift to my family on my Dad’s side.

That’s my dad on my grandmother’s lap – it was both of their genes that landed me in this role of Family Historian!

So I didn’t plan for this job and I also don’t take it too seriously. It’s more like a fun hobby that keeps me busy as my kids grow up and move away, serves as a full-proof way to stay connected to my extended family, and preserves the memory of those who left too soon.

I strongly believe that if you are saving pictures from your life and your family’s lives you should be able to enjoy them, which means you need to make them accessible. To make them accessible you need to organize them and digitize them. Once they are digitized and organized there are so many things you can do with them, the possibilities are endless. It’s an investment of either time or money that will continue to pay dividends beyond your lifetime. So maybe you didn’t plan to be your family’s historian, but perhaps you should be! Reach out if you want help getting started!

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