Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Archiving the Past

One of my projects for this year is to rescue all my family’s photos, organize them, and scan them into the computer. I say “rescue” because back in the ’80s my parents put our photos into those magnetic photo albums... you know, the kind with the subtly tacky pages that, combined with the static of the plastic overlays, kept your photos in place on the page. Of course, what we didn’t know then is just how damaging those pages are to photo paper. My mom and dad had five large albums with photos arranged primarily in chronological order, beginning with their wedding shower in 1962 and carrying through the mid-’80s. I was able to successfully save all but three of the photos. There was one page that just wouldn’t give up the goods. All the other photos were extracted over the course of a week with varying degrees of success – the most common violation being some portion of the backing paper staying with the album page. They are, however, in good enough condition to be saved and, certainly, to be scanned.

It was a trip for me to just see each and every photo as I liberated them from their albums. The nostalgia factor amped up considerably and nudged my creative juices into overdrive as well. I suspect over the course of the coming months, there will be more than one or two blog entries inspired by the memories evoked or weird associations with the images as I work through the long process of scanning each photo, making any corrections to it in the photo software, and organizing both the digital files and the physical photos for long-term archiving.

I’m fortunate to still have both of my parents around and geographically close for all the obvious reasons, including helping me identify people and places and dates in all these photos. Once I get through this Besenyodi nuclear family era, I will probably ask my parents for the photos that never made it into albums -- those of previous generations and those of the family after my sister and I moved on and made them empty nesters.

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