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Protecting Family Legacy
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Thank you for your interest in Protecting Family Legacy Through Digitization: A Conversation

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Marcia Spicer (Sales Engineer): Let’s go ahead and get started. Anybody who’s joining us late, you’ll have a chance to view the recording or anyone who, you know, happens to miss out. We’ll be recording this.

Hadley Grow (Director of Operations): Well, we’ll get started. My name is Hadley Grow, and I’m the Director of Operations here at Anderson Archival. Before we get started, on behalf of our team, we just wanted to thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your day to be here and learn more about archival digitization, and the importance of protecting and preserving your family history, your memories and your legacy for future generations to learn from, and also enjoy. I’m sure we have some familiar faces here. Whether you’re new and this is your first time with us, or you’ve been with us for a few years looking at our newsletters, we’re so excited today to share a special client feature with you. But before we get to our feature, we’ll start with some brief introductions.

As I mentioned, my name is Hadley. Something fun I wanted to share, Anderson Archival is actually a family business, if you didn’t know. Helping families is very near and dear to our hearts. I have the honor of being one of the members of the second generation at the firm. It’s just such a joy to be here with you today. Simon, why don’t you introduce yourself?

Simon Fine (Account Executive): Hi there. My name is Simon Fine. I’m the client executive here and actually the person that helped guide Kelly through this whole process up to the point where the professionals stepped in and really dug into the technical aspects of it. Great to meet everybody, albeit virtually. Excited!

Hadley: Thanks, Simon. We also have various members of the Anderson Archival team here, manning the chat and just here to support so thank you all for being here as well.

Today, we have Kelly Donovan with us. She is from Rhode Island, so visiting virtually from the East Coast. In 2013 we helped Kelly digitize her family collection of scrapbooks. Kelly will be sharing a little bit of her collection with us today and walking through the process of how she determined it was time to digitize now. That’s a big decision and that process working with our team and how she’s been able to share her family legacy with others now that it is digitally preserved.

We do have a Q&A. If you look in  the bottom toolbar, you should see a Q&A feature. And one of our team members will respond directly. Feel free to throw your questions in the chat. If there’s anything that seems like a theme, we might answer it at the end of the webinar, as well. With that, we are going to get started.

Kelly, welcome. We’re so grateful to have you here with us today.

Kelly Donovan (Guest): Thank you, you’re kind to ask me.

Hadley: So let’s get started.

Kelly: One quick comment, you digitized this collection in December of 2023. So it was very recent. You said 2013, just a little misstatement.

Hadley: Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry!

Kelly: It’s very recent. It’s okay, it’s important that people know how new to the game I am.

Hadley: Thank you. I didn’t even catch that. So yes. 2023. Thank you, Kelly.

Hadley: Kelly, would you mind telling us a little bit about your collection? For those that don’t know, we’ve seen about 10 scrapbooks of different times in your family’s history. How did you become the caretaker of the collection? And how was it originally stored?

Kelly: It beats me how that happened, except I was someone who had an office and files and so people naturally were giving me things. I helped with some of my grandparents’ and parents’ estates. Then I would accumulate paperwork from that. I had a certain interest in it all but people just started then handing it to me, handing it off, bins of it, to me.

How was it stored? Poorly! In my grandparents’ closet somewhere, in one of the great grandparents’ closet somewhere, my parents’ closets, so it was just stuff that was moved along in boxes. No protection at all. It’s kind of amazing that much of it survived. The screen you’re looking at is from 1921, photographs. They’re not bad considering lack of care.

Hadley: Tell us a little bit more. That’s so funny how usually one member of the family kind of becomes the dumping ground, you could say for, you know, handing off the collection. Are you saying basically multi generations, everyone just started giving you what they had of the pieces of the collection?

Kelly: It passed down largely through my parents when they died 15 years ago. They had inherited from their parents who had inherited from their parents, and it became a cone down to my parents. Then when they died, came to my generation. My siblings happily gave it all to me to deal with.

Hadley: Wonderful, that’s good back story. The storage, it was just in folders, there was no sort of care for the organization, the temperature where it was stored, it was just kind of there, right?

Kelly: That’s right, wherever it had landed. And nobody took these out again, ever, I don’t think. I never saw some of these 1921 ones until now. They were just in a closet somewhere.

Hadley: Now they’re accessible and you can actually enjoy it. What led you to Anderson Archival, because you know when it’s time to digitize, there’s a lot of different choices. How did you find us and what led you to entrust your treasures with our team?

Kelly: I found you online and I was impressed with your website. I thought it was very user friendly. Very complete. In terms of information that was offered, very welcoming, I guess is a better word. I liked that Anderson was family owned. I felt that I was not dealing with a monolithic corporation that might send stuff to wherever they send stuff to, the less expensive companies, to digitize in India. No offense to India, but you know what I mean?

Kelly: And then, as I started interacting with Anderson, my first contact was Simon Fine. Who was very helpful, friendly, patient. Then as I worked with a couple of other people, Marcia Spicer, first, I was impressed with all the time that Anderson personnel gave me before I’d ever signed on to give you money and have you do anything. That was to me, a mark of high professionalism, and it just made it made it easier for me to keep moving forward.

Hadley: I love that. And I love that you mentioned, unlike some some firms where you just ship your stuff and it’s in a warehouse with a barcode and who knows where it’s going. I love that you brought out that Anderson Archival our team we are a very white glove service, we’re carefully handling each piece of material.

Kelly: You’re handling it more carefully than they’ve ever been handled! You’re very hands on and as, we’re jumping ahead a slight step, but as the all of this was being digitized, Mary Eggleston also was the my main contact on the digitizing team. She was great. I could see the care she took. As I go through the albums, I can see the care that was taken to clean things up, to present them nicely, to clip pages back. It’s just done very, very professionally. The end result was I think, I told her, better than the originals.

Hadley: Wow. Well, thank you for shouting out specific members of our team. That means so much to us.

I think in the essence of time, let’s change gears to kind of the state [of the collection] and once we started digitizing what we discovered with those albums. Your family had them so long without an in depth review and care being given. Some of some of the knowledge has been lost.

This page in particular, there are some folks who have been labeled so you can tell which people are in which photos. But if you could go back and talk to past generations, it sounds like there’s been a lot of passing down. What would you say to your grandparents or people that had these collections when they were fully in their original form about the importance of digitizing them, when when they did?

Kelly: Well of course, they weren’t digitizing the 1921 or before or till recently. I wouldn’t say much to them back then. Nowadays, I would hope people would preserve things, the originals a little better and more carefully. I would encourage anyone to digitize to make it accessible to this generation and future generations. I would also encourage anyone listening to listen to your elder older relatives while they’re alive. And to ask ask questions while you can.

Hadley: Do you feel that there’s a lot of knowledge that you have about this collection that if it had waited, your children, your grandchildren, that would have been lost?

Kelly: Yes! I’m not getting any younger here and if I die, then somebody has to they look at this piles of stuff in my attic, then, and it goes nowhere. So yes. But also ask your elders, listen to their stories. I wish I’d listened to more stories from these people.

Hadley: Is there anything significant in the pages shown on the screen you want to point out Kelly? I know the next one has some some damage we want to talk about.

Kelly: No, this is just the start of I’m not sure who everybody is in the middle there. But on the right the start of my family of origin. I’m one of six children. This is just the first three what we’re dealing with there.

This new page that’s on the screen, there’s there’s a lot of missing material and not a lot of captions.

Kelly: Who knows? I don’t know.

Hadley: I know there’s damage, but what our team likes to focus on is not the damage, but really how much of it has still survived and is now preserved in its current state.

Kelly: Now it’s set! Now it’s a great relief to me and to my siblings that it’s getting done, it’s getting preserved. Then anybody can look at it or not, I don’t know how many Easter greeting cards they’ll want to look at. But especially to the younger generations, there are things in here that they don’t see anymore, like a lot of greeting cards, a lot of bad greeting cards, but greeting cards, and telegrams, and I think it was Simon who commented at one point said, “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a telegram.” So I assume that my younger generations haven’t either. Things like that that are otherwise lost to them.

Hadley: Have you made any… I know you stated in the beginning, “When I had the collection, and it was only in a physical form, It wasn’t very accessible. There weren’t a lot… I wasn’t enjoying it and looking through it.” Are there discoveries that you have made, now that it is accessible and you’re able to view your history in a digital format?

Kelly: Oh, yes. Yes, I think part of what happens is, I can look at a lot of things in the context of that time. I focused recently on one six month period in 1948. Looking at receipts, at telegrams, at various things in there, I could really see all that was happening with my parents in my family in this time frame, and it was very impressive. To see what they went through: births, near deaths, moving, children. A lot! I was impressed. That ability to see it all together. Yes.

Hadley: The next scrapbook page, there’s really a lot of knowledge that’s been lost. Is anyone in your family alive that that is able to even share the meaning of these photos?

Kelly: We can guess a general knowledge about where in Connecticut this was, and whose boat it might have been… maybe one guy in the center of that photograph, but not the rest of it. I mean, they’re lovely, poignant pictures. This is probably I think about 1915. It’s quite a mark of a time, but no, I don’t know who most of these people are anymore. And there’s no one alive anymore now.

Hadley: I can tell you, I love sailing, so they make me happy.

Kelly: There you go!

Hadley: Let’s move towards the kind of digital transformation piece. Kelly, you talked a little bit about interacting with our team and the process. But would you mind sharing a little bit more about, once you selected to work with Anderson Archival, what did that process look like for you with those next steps to get in this final digital form?

Kelly: Anderson really helped me a lot. Marcia, I think would be a main contact at that point. We first went through an estimating product process where I took cell phone pictures of just a sample page like this in a scrapbook. Then I gave her an idea of how many surfaces or pages there were in the scrapbook, what size it was, how thick it was. I sent a bunch of photos like to her so that she could get an idea and her team of the job, give me some pricing ideas.

Then after that it was my wrapping them up and shipping them off. We agreed on a few rules, one of which, I asked Mary to err on the side of scanning everything because you never know what will appeal to someone. Other than that, I let you all do your work, professional, you know, as you do it. I tried to stay our of your way.

Hadley: You touch on a good point, though, Kelly too, of the work that needs to be done ahead of time to prepare, so that our team knows. Some people don’t even know what they have. We can come in and do a full discovery and inventory. But others who you know, maybe you’re out of state and maybe they don’t want to pay to have someone inventory, it’s very helpful that you took photos and that you were able to work with us to enable us to understand what your collection entailed so we could better serve you and make sure that whatever solution we were providing would meet your need. So thank you for making our life easier!

Kelly: Thank you! It helped me and ultimately, I had to be somewhat conscious of the total cost and it helped me a little to get an idea of that upfront and also to help think of ways we could manage the cost a little bit. That worked for me.

But these were all books that were bound, or sort of bound, scrapbooks which is one reason I wanted Anderson. It was not a “do it yourself.” Some of these were four or five inches, six inches thick, 1921 scrapbooks. You couldn’t open them flat at all. When I came upon those, it was a no brainer that I needed serious help.

Hadley: It’s fun to see the finished product knowing the state they were in in the beginning. We are able to help no matter the format, if it’s bound, if it’s just photos that are not in a scrapbook, there’s all these different formats. We’re able to mix and match, and some some of our clients, like you, Kelly, had certain preferences, like “I don’t know what’s important. So please, take it all” and other people “Just these specific types of photos are what I’m looking for.”

Kelly: And that’s great. And that’s a good aspect of Anderson. I will definitely be sending another batch or batches of materials, a lot more loose things. I will be seeking your help and guidance on that, and a little more as to what and how we do that.

Hadley: Well, we’re very excited for part two, Kelly, I think we maybe got the hard part out of the way.

Kelly: Again, no, don’t get too excited.

Hadley: Let’s talk about once the collection was digitized, how have you been able to–I believe there’s a Christmas morning story.

Kelly: It was the day after Christmas I launched to my siblings and their children. That was 12 or 14 people. The team was very kind to respond to my panicked calls when links didn’t work somehow. I straightened that out with their help. Then people were able to get an idea of the extent of it, and they were thrilled that this was done! The fact that I hadn’t told anybody it was happening. So it was a surprise.

Hadley: It was a big surprise!

Kelly: They were just so happy and relieved that it was it was preserved, it all was preserved for them to browse through at their leisure, and it’s a pretty overwhelming amount of material. It’s several thousand surfaces, as I recall. People are still working through it.

There was one thing where they started an email conversation over a pair of ticket stubs, which is probably something else that the younger generation doesn’t see anymore, but from Madison Square Garden, and my younger brother looked it up and found out what was happening on that day and who would have gone with mom and why were they there at the National Horse Show, and it led to a nice conversation about happenings like that in that time.

Hadley: I love that it was a surprise and how you shared the emotion of your family members receiving access to that digital asset management system. How did it make you feel? Because obviously, you were the one who made the investment and did that work to give your family, so how did you feel with their reaction?

Kelly: They feel good of course. Of course that’s part of why I did it, but it made me feel good that it was a lot of “it’s done and off my shoulders,” too!

Hadley: I’m sure you receive a lot of questions. You probably have more knowledge than some of the younger generation so it’s added an extra bond to your family.

Kelly: Yes, they haven’t dug in as much yet, the younger generation. I’m hopeful that they will and they emailed me at the time and said “This is so great Aunt Kelly, thank you” and so they’re happy but they haven’t quite dived in either yet.

I will make one other comment and I know we have to move it along but as I said I’m one of six. My eldest sister died relatively young, age 44, and had one daughter who was then 20 and is now in her 50s. I think it is very, very touching for my niece to be able to see so many pictures, I’m choking up a little, so many pictures of her mother, as her mother was born and grew up. As it happens on this page, that’s her mother holding the younger sister in the red outfit, but it’s her mother. Just to see so much of her mother, I think it’s very moving for her particularly.

Hadley: Oh, I love that you shared that, Kelly. It’s funny, we’re actually doing a family project for some of my own family history right now. Today, I was sitting with some folks from the team that were in the process of digitizing and seeing photos of my grandmother who I never got the chance to meet. It’s so moving. I’m glad that that you also were able to share that experience in your family. I know I’m looking at the time.

Kelly, before we wrap up, and I know Simon has a couple of things he wants to share, is there anything else you would like to share with our audience about Anderson Archival or if people are on the fence about digitizing? Do you have any words of wisdom…

Kelly: I think I’ve been saying it. Your company is great to work with. I’m doing this of my own volition, I’m volunteering, because you’re great to work with. You do a very professional job and you make it as painless, I think, as it can be for the client. The personnel is great.

To anyone on the fence, start it. Start the process. It’ll be a big load off your mind and off your shoulders. And once it’s done, it’s done. You know, I can now repack this stuff, and I don’t have to worry about it again, and worry about further disintegration. It feels much better to me that this huge batch is done. I can do more and be done with it before I die.

Hadley: We’re grateful for everyone that values archival digitization as much as we do. It brings us so much joy, Kelly, so thank you for for sharing your story and being with us. I saw a couple questions come in in the Q&A. But I think we’re going to move right on to Simon because of the time. If there are any additional questions, we can answer those offline. I think most of them have been answered. If you have any additional questions, feel free to add them in the Q&A, and we’ll be able to answer them after the webinar is over. Simon, I’ll turn it over to you.

Kelly: Thanks Hadley.

Simon: Thanks, thank you so much. If anybody’s wondering, Kelly was super fun to work with. That definitely showed through. Her personality just bubbles up.

The big thing I want to hone in on is these family collections are as unique as the families that they come from. As Kelly mentioned, there’s always an inherent archivist in every family, whether this is a familial obligation or a personal initiative and interest. I just want for the people who attended just to kind of ask yourself this, is it going to be you that takes action on your family’s collection? What could you enable with a digital collection that you haven’t been able to deal with boxes in the attic or basement? In conclusion, I really look forward to learning more about your family’s rich history and providing the same guidance we offered Kelly on how best to immortalize those memories. I really look forward to talking with anybody, even if it’s just talking through, “What should I do next?” Really excited for that. Thank you everybody for attending and having an open ear.

Kelly: Thank you, Simon.

Hadley: Thank you, Simon. Please reach out to Simon and I think he’ll be reaching out to folks who are attending today with the recording so you’ll have his contact information. Thank you all so much for attending today. I know it was short and sweet. It was just 30 minutes. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. We are planning to have additional webinars and continued community content later this year. Please be on the lookout for that as well. We look forward to hearing from you and hope you have a great rest of your day.

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