Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sorting Saturday: Photograph Inventory

My first goal for my family photograph project (see previous post here) was to create a general inventory of the different collections I have and discuss the provenance of each collection. What do I have?
Currently I have three archival storage boxes separated and labeled as follows:
Watts/Hardy; Westfall; Timmer/Katsma
I also have a smaller storage box that holds a collection of mostly bon-ton tintypes and carte-de-visits. Most of these images are from two old tintype albums that were originally my second-great grandmother’s. The actual albums are stored in a fireproof safe along with other memorabilia including a Watts family bible, a dictionary from 1874, a old reader book and some miscellaneous photographs most of which are cased photographs (including ambrotypes).
 I also have two archival photo albums I put together. One album has a blue cover and holds photographs of the Watts family. The other album has a white cover and holds photographs of the Hardy family. In the Hardy family album, I also have an original listing of the birth and death dates of the Bird Hardy family. These pages are in sheet protectors.
In each of the archival storage boxes, I have an array of photographs of varying types and other items that pertain to the labeled family lines.  Depending on the photo subjects, some of my childhood photographs are included in the Watts box and some are included in the Timmer/Katsma box. There are some photographs of me with my Watts grandparents and of course some with my Timmer grandparents. If it is a specific photo of just my biological family (i.e., my brother or a family group of myself, my brother and my parents), I usually put it in the Watts box.
In the Westfall box, I’ve included some photographs and memorabilia that pertain to my children’s family and the current generations. Also on the Westfall side, I have Granny’s old magnetic photo albums which is a separate collection on its own that needs better cataloging, inventory and definitely some additional preservation.
Another part of my photograph collection would include my children’s scrapbooks and photo albums that I have put together over the years. Specifically, I have a 8 ½ x 11 three-ring binder for scrapbook pages made for each of my daughters which includes baby and school pictures, an 8 ½ x 11 three-ring binder with scrapbook pages of our family together (including Christmas and other holidays), another same-sized binder of scrapbook pages of additional family members, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces & nephews. I eventually branched out to working with 12 x 12 albums in my scrapbooking and I have several albums of that size. I need to make a list of those as well. At least one is a general family album. There is also one in progress that is all about the festivities surrounding my oldest daughter’s high school graduation.  Some other miscellaneous scrapbook albums include one of our first year living in New York.

Whew! All that just for a general inventory. I’ll talk more about the provenance of some of these materials in another posting. There is a lot more to do. Has anyone ever done an inventory of their family photographs? I would love to hear from you.


  1. I scanned and digitized the oldest photos, letters and other paper ephemera and have them on my computer and backed up on a flashdrive. I also have an excel spreadsheet listing each photo and who I acquired it from, subject, where and when it was taken. I've gone away from scrapbooks and paper where possible, because what I'm hearing from the next generation is "go digital, baby."

  2. Thanks for your input, g-gal! The excel spreadsheet is a great idea. I started something like that with all my kids' photos--for one, to make sure I didn't favor one over the other and had scrapbooked everyone's birthdays evenly :) Digital is definitely where it's at. I found a local place that will put my old videos on digital medium which is another step on my list. I don't know if I can get away from scrapbooks & paper totally, though!

    Anyone else have any ideas about this?

  3. Your organization sounds impressive! I've been scanning in all my grandmother's photos with the intent of sharing them on a CD with each family member. As I scan them I title them based on the subject and file them by family name. In the "properties" and "details" section of the digital file I write a caption of the photo. This has really helped me make sense of all those photos!

  4. Good to hear from you, Heather, I appreciate your comment. Thanks for the tip on adding titles to photo scans. I know it's going to really help to be organized that way.

  5. Thanks for documenting this... I'm only just starting out so have very little to actually catalogue and store, so at the moment my way of dealing with things is quite simple, but it's good to know how others deal with large(r) collections (for the future!).

  6. Good for you, Jay, to start thinking about organizing right from the get-go. Good luck on your collecting efforts and thanks for your comment!