Category Archives: Family Artifacts and Photos

Box Adventures: Scanning is Slow Going

My daughter is staying home for the most part. She has a few safe-distance visits with a couple of friends, and they all wear masks responsibly (and if you are reading this in the future, I’m referring to the COVID-19 pandemic). She’s also knitted about 15 sweaters since staying-at-home started, and she reported that she’d watched every video on YouTube. A couple of times per week she comes and scans the photos and items from the box. She gets about 15 or 20 done usually.

The photos tend to fall into one of these categories:

  • childhood pictures of me
  • childhood pictures of my brother
  • pictures of ancestors
  • pictures of people I don’t know
  • pictures of scenery
  • more childhood pictures of me (I guess no one else wanted them)

So, here are a bunch of pictures of me at varying degrees of development. Enjoy!

Box Adventures: Wedding Napkins

When my husband and I were planning our very inexpensive wedding back in 1994, we were in college and on a tight budget. Our families helped pay for parts of the wedding but none of us had a bunch of money set aside for a fancy affair, which was just fine with me. I’m not a fan of putting on a dress and getting all dolled up. We were twenty years old at the time, and now that I have a son who is 19, I can only imagine what our families were thinking. But never fear, here we are almost 26 years later, still going strong!

Someone suggested that we needed to have wedding napkins. I don’t remember who that was now but I can remember thinking at the time that wedding napkins seemed like a weird and frivolous thing. In an effort to please, I ordered up some wedding napkins. We did not have a big fancy dinner. We had “gourmet” sandwiches (made by a local restaraunt, not Subway), a few sides, cake, and no alcohol or music because, remember, we were 20. Not old enough.

I want to thank whomever suggested the napkins. During my “box adventures” unpacking the box from my grandparents’ house I shipped to myself over ten years ago, I have found a couple of other wedding napkins from family members.

Helen and Dick are my Uncle Dick Dimick, brother to my grandmother, and his wife Helen who was known as “Pinky” who recently passed away and I wrote about a few weeks ago. My grandparents’ napkin isn’t printed. Instead, it has a handwritten notation “March 3, 1945 Margaret Ruth & Carl.” I suspect this was written by someone not as familiar with the family, and definitely wasn’t written by an immediate family member, because my grandpa spelled his name with a ‘K’ – Karl Miller. So it is curious how that got into my grandparents’ collection of stuff…but I’m ever grateful it did!

As my daughter was going through the items to scan, she said “a napkin???” Yes, indeed, even a napkin can have genealogical significance.

Box Adventures: Organizing Physical Items (Part 3): The Order Arrived!

I got most of my order from Gaylord. Everything but the three-ring clamshell box has arrived! It is on backorder but should ship next week.

In the meantime, the scanning has resumed since classes are over for my daughter and her work (lifeguarding) has not opened up yet. We came across some funeral registries where none of the front matter had been filled out (like whose funeral it was). Though there were some clues (like obituary clippings) and a tiny date written in the corner. These funeral visitor lists are chock full of surnames I recognize as family members or family friends.

Visitors to Carrie (Limmer) Miller’s funeral, 1955

If you were looking for an ancestor’s “FAN Club” (Friends, Associates, Neighbors), this is a fantastic list! (For more on the FAN Club, visit this post from Elizabeth Shown Mills.) I have had a fun time remembering the names and my childhood memories of some of these folks. Researching some of these folks might hold some clues as to the Miller lineage. (I’m stuck at John and Mary Miller! Talk about common names…)

Happy researching and organizing and scanning!

Box Adventures: Organizing Physical Items (Part 2)

I don’t have much to report this week except to say that I received and email that my Gaylord order is being processed and shipped! Hooray!

In the meantime, the scanning and sorting is still slowly happening. My scanning assistant is done with school for the year. She has been knitting quite a few sweaters so if I can get her to put the needles down and get back to the scanning, we will be on our way to making more progress in the scanning department.

When I get the order of archival supplies, I will write another update with photos of what I purchased and how I’m planning to store the items.

Stay tuned! In the meantime, stay safe and healthy and happy scanning!

Box Adventures: Who Are These People?

Box Adventures_ Who Are These People?

Do you have photos like these?

When I was young, my family was very fond of having large get-togethers where we all shared potluck meals and grilled hotdogs and hamburgers. I love a good potluck and I blame it on my upbringing. Where else will you get sweet and sour baked beans, onion casserole, and Jell-o salad on the same plate?

Invariably, at these parties, we would have a very large group picture. And just as invariably, those pictures ended up in an envelope full of all of the developed photos from that film roll (remember those?) and be stored in a box. That box would later be discovered by me and not know who most of the people are in the pictures!

It’s sad on some levels. Who are these people? What role did they play in the lives of my family? Who were they that they got invited to the party? I can identify the major players, me and my parents, my aunt, and her family, my grandparents, some of the really close friends of the family. But then there are the others. The fringe folk as it were. Those who came and went. They were in our lives for a short time. Who were they? I may never find out. My aunt may know some of them. But some of their identities are lost to the ages.

If you have living family members that can identify those in the photos, be asking them now. Make notes on the back or in some way that they don’t get lost from the photo. But for many of these people, it’s too late. For those, I look at these party photos and remember when we were all together. I don’t just mean prior to COVID-19, but also because many of the people in the photos have died. And miss many of them terribly.

When you are a kid you don’t appreciate what you have in your family and family friends. Then when you get old enough to appreciate them, they are gone or going. As I get older and as more of my older family members pass on, I deeply wish that I had paid more attention, that I appreciated more. Mostly, I wish I could turn back the clock and chat with my grandparents again. Ask them the really important questions. (I always think “what would grandma or grandpa think about this?”) Be at one of those potlucks again.

I hope you can answer “who are these people?” with your photos.

Box Adventures: Titling Photos

Copy of Box Adventures_ Titling photos-2

If you have read this Box series since the beginning, you know the size and scope of the photos I received ten years ago. It was a huge box with rather random photos and papers included. My daughter has been doing the scanning. We’ve been doing the titling together. Luckily, when I picked up the photos ten years ago, I managed to ask my grandma or aunt who certain people were and made notes. So they aren’t all completely unidentified.

If you undertake a project like this, you will likely develop your own system and methods. Do what works best for you and makes the most sense with your filing system. Ours goes like this:

  • My daughter, Ellie, scans an image. She asks me who about the image if there are no notes. If there are notes, she can figure out the title.
  • She titles the images along the lines of “surname-firstname-event or number-year” so that it might be “Dimick-Leland-1” or “Kindervater-Ernestine-Wedding-1895.” If we don’t know one of the elements (such as the year) then we just leave it off. These might change after I do some of the research, but for now, they are titled in a way that lets me know what is in the file.
  • She uploads the images to a shared Google Drive folder.
  • Later, I download the scanned images to my hard drive to the folders where I keep all of my family history photos.

The Google Drive looks like this:


The eagle-eyed among you might notice a difference in file types. We had settings set up for .tif (my preferred file for photos). However, when we moved to a new scanner, we didn’t get the file type set for some of the photos and didn’t notice until she had done many. We decided not to redo all of those .jpg files for now. Someday we might go back to it. But for now, the images are digitized as well as in an archival box and that’s good enough for me.

Those digitized photos will sit in the Google Drive for a while. I have not decided if I will leave them there. My hard drive gets backed up to a cloud backup server, so I don’t feel the need to duplicate them in another location. However, I will leave them there until I get my filing done on my hard drive…just in case.

Mainly, when tackling a large project like this, figuring out a system and sticking to it is the most important. Then it’s just a matter of hiring a teenager to do the repetitive tasks. If you don’t have a teenager you can hire, especially in these times of social distancing, the task of scanning and titling your photos is not difficult.

Put on a movie or audio book or music and get scanning!

Box Adventures: Remembering Aunt Pinky

Box Adventures_ Remembering Aunt Pinky

In the midst of all of the pandemic and in my unpacking and scanning photos from the box I shipped to myself 10 years ago, my family lost one of my favorite great-aunts, Helen “Pinky” Dimick. She was married to my uncle Richard “Dick” Dimick, my grandma’s brother. She died on Saturday morning, April 18. (Click here for her obituary.)

My family was a little bit divided, geographically. My parents were divorced, and my mom moved us to Wyoming just before I started high school. Whenever we visited our Ohio family, there would be pot luck meals where family and friends came to see us and Dick and Pinky were always among the visitors. Pinky was always smiling, always interested in what we were doing, asked a lot of questions about how we were doing in school or work.

My grandma, Pinky, and their friend Wilma came to visit us in Colorado in February 2007. They seemed to have a ball entertaining (or being entertained by) my kids.

Pinky was always a good friend and companion to my grandmother and I’m happy my grandma had friends and family around her after my grandpa died.

Pinky recently celebrated her 92nd birthday. She was happy, healthy, and smiling having87954060_1508407732656862_4069401562143784960_n dinner out with her family. She lived a long and happy life and I was so fortunate to have had her as part of our family. Her kindness, pleasantness, and cheerful personality will always be the thing I remember most about her.

Rest well, Pinky. Say hi to grandma, grandpa, and dad for me!

(Pinky enjoying her 92nd birthday dessert in February 2020. Photo by Sue Dimick-Dauer.)

Box Adventures: Get the Right Tools

Copy of Box Adventures_ Sorting and PlanningWe unpacked the box and sorted it into types of items. I then hired my daughter to do the scanning for me. We discovered my old scanner was just not working fast enough. A job that should take a small amount of time was taking forever. Since I’m paying her by the hour, and she was getting completely bored waiting for the scanner to do its thing, I decided to upgrade my scanner. My old scanner was a built-in scanner, copier, printer. In computer years, it was old. It still works, mind you, but it is slow. So, the need for speed got me shopping.

ScannerI opted for an Epson Perfection V600 photo scanner. It has some features I need for a price I was willing to pay. You can find it on Amazon here. I am not here to tell you this is the best scanner ever and the one you should order. That’s not what this blog is about. This is the scanner that had the features I needed at a price I was willing to pay. And it has worked out great. It scans faster, the images are turning out great, and my daughter is finding the software easier to use.

So, in between online class zoom meetings, school work, and her private flute lesson over Skype, my daughter has been scanning away and finding some great little tidbits. Here are just two, I’ll share more in the future:

Miller_Cari_NP-1976 Flag Day





This is me, little Cari Ann Miller in 1976, the bicentennial. I wore a stars-and-stripes covered outfit, undoubtedly handmade by one of my grandmothers, and was caught waving my flag at the town parade. We lived in a little town called Weston in Wood County, Ohio. This clipping does not have any date of the newspaper but this was most likely published in the Daily Sentinel-Tribune out of Bowling Green.



Miller_Kenny_NP-Fireman of the Year

And this is one of my dad who was a volunteer fireman in Weston. Apparently, he was named Fireman of the Year one year and then passed off the honor to another man the next year. Again, no dates were written on these clippings but this would have been sometime prior to 1980.


Stay tuned for more Box Adventures. I will post some of the delights that I find as we move through the process of unpacking the old photographs, newspaper clippings, slides, artifacts, and more!

Box Adventures: Sorting and Planning

Box Adventures_ Sorting and Planning

Ok, so I’ve unpacked my box. It was jam-packed full of treasures that will take me months to sort through. I’m excited. So what to do first? Honestly, I have no idea…but here is what my preliminary plan is.

Step 1: Sort into types of items

Largely, there are photographs here. Some of them, I know I already have digital copies of from a time back when I was allowed to scan them, but not keep them (before the downsizing). There are also newspaper clippings as well as full newspapers. I will need to figure out why that newspaper was kept and perhaps clip out the important part (keeping the title, date, page, column for the citation, of course). There are large family reunion photo prints that have been rolled up. There are envelopes with who knows what inside. So sorting is my current project.

Step 2: Decide how to preserve each type of item

I could scan, photograph, frame, clip, store in archival boxes, and so on. Each item is going to have a different solution. Determining that solution will be next and I’ll tackle each item separately. For example, I probably don’t need to keep the actual newspaper or clipping if I get a good scan of them. Newsprint is terribly acidic and doesn’t hold up well over time. But if I make a scan and print on archival paper, it might last longer. Making each of these determinations is going to vary.

Step 3: Do the task set forth in step 2 for each item

This step could take months. The process of scanning and putting the item into whatever the final form will be is going to be lengthy. And I think one I can hire my teenaged daughter to help with since she’s home right now.

Step 4: Catalog each item

Putting the information into my family tree software, the digital image stored in my digital filing system, and a copy stored in my binder system will likely come at the end. And this is going to be the fun part! My initial thought is that my daughter can scan the item and name them in a pre-determined format then put them in a dropbox folder we share. Then one-by-one I can go through them and put them in their appropriate places. It is during this step that I will also craft the citations for each item.

Up next…getting into the sorting. I hope my daughter is ready!

Box Adventures: Getting it Out of the Closet

Box Adventures_ Closet


See the box in this photo? I shipped it to myself in 2010. That’s what the label says. Can it really have been 10 years? Ten years ago, my grandmother decided to downsize her home (after already downsizing from a large farm several years prior) and move into a small apartment. She was not able to keep up with the yard and housework anymore. A large garage sale would take place and a dumpster may have been mentioned. I got on a plane.

In fact, I sent four boxes home. Items were delivered to a pack-n-ship where they very carefully wrapped everything and got it ready for the cross country journey from Ohio to Colorado. I’m happy to add that nothing was broken! Three of the boxes were dishes or other things that used to belong to my great grandmother (whom I’m named after). But this one box is FULL of papers, photos, and I cannot remember what else because even though I packed the box, it has been ten years. And within those ten years, my family moved from Colorado to Texas. So… this is LONG overdue.

You don’t have any projects like that sitting around, do you? Surely not. I’m the only bad, bad genealogist out there.

Well, I’ll be unpacking the box over the next couple of weeks and scanning, sorting, and storing in archival boxes. (I have a couple I bought TEN years ago for this project!) I’ll share some of the cool treasures I find along the way. I hope you get out a scanning project or two you have tucked away and join me!