Preserve your Photos and Documents Like an Expert!
Back to Blog

You've found that image or document that reveals a great story or confirms that missing clue you needed, and you want to make sure it is saved for generations to come. What is the best way to save and preserve your images' Lord Morpeth Roll 1I asked Sabrina Petersen, Director of Global Imaging here at, and she shared these 5 tips:

  1. Think like an Archive. Archives think about how to preserve records and photographs for their patrons and posterity within a budget.  Digitization allows for multiple copies of the original that can be shared as well as stored, which allows you to store a master copy and make copies as needed.
  2. Future Use. Think about how you are going to find this particular picture or document in the future.  Putting metadata within the name of the image itself is the easiest way to find it in the future. You might put Aunt Nancy Family Reunion 1982 picnic' as the name of the picture or Death Certificate Benjamin Franklin Blansett 1912?.  By making the name the basic information you can then easily search and find it again. Then you can further organize the files by putting them in folder by event, family surname or by type of record, which will help make retrieval of this easier in the future.
  3. Digitize your records.  This can be done by using different types of equipment, but probably the easiest is a digital camera for most documents. Capture the document or picture as straight as possible when photographing, this avoids creating unwanted "artifacts" or spots on the image if you need to straighten it on your computer. Our Shoebox app is a great tool to use as well.
  4. Choose formats wisely. There are a lot of formats to choose from - JPEG and TIFF are the most common. Whichever you choose, make sure that you have the original copy someplace safe and then make a second copy which is the one you play with, send to others or upload for safe keeping to your family tree on Ancestry.  This second copy can be any file format you choose, including a PDF.  This makes it easy to share, send and upload.
  5. Anything is better than nothing! Lastly remember that anything you do now is better than nothing.
A little thought as you store your finds will save you a lot of angst later. Happy Searching!