Five steps to saving your ancestors

1. Gather
Gather your family portraits and other heirlooms. This is the perhaps the hardest and longest part. Borrow the best "originals" you can find. Wedding, military and school pictures can be the best portraits to save. Don't stop until you have the "right" pictures and anything else that can be digitized.
2. Digitize

Scan the most important pictures at 300 dpi, saving the files as TIFFs, (black and white in grayscale mode--color in CMYK color mode). Print these to assure the are the best quality that can be obtained. These will be your archived files.

Make another low-resolution versions of these files and save them as JPEGs (black and white in grayscale mode--color in RGB color mode). These will be used on-line (e-mail, etc.).

Give each file a unique name using a standard such as: LastnameFirstnameDetails.filetype. Use maiden names and other keywords to identify the subjects. Don't use punctuation marks in your file names such a commas, spaces, apostrophes, or dashes, as these may cause compatibility issues.

Don't stop with just pictures, Many other memories can also be converted into computer files.

3. Organize
When you have them all properly archived, organize your files into logical directories, add documentation, etc. Make sure you have all the right pictures and the latest version of all files.
4. Test
Burn a few CDs and share them with close family members and friends to gain input / feedback. You'll be surprised how sharing your draft will help bring about interest in your project. Once your family sees what you're doing, they will find other treasure to include in the family CD. Test every aspect of your CD on every type of computer you can. Your family should be assured the files on each CD contain all the proper data (in compatible formats) so nothing is left behind.
5. Distribute

Once you're satisfied with your CD, make copies and distribute them to all those interested. A custom label or CD case can underscore their importance and enhance their use. You might consider donating a copy to the historical societies or libraries in areas where your ancestors lived.

There's a great deal more that can be done to enhance the reception your CD will receive, but remember, the most important thing is getting the information properly archived and in the hands of relatives.

I'll help anyway I can, every step of the way--whatever tasks you cannot do on your own. Now that I've rescued mine, my goal is to rescue YOUR ancestors.--Randy