Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tuesday’s Tip – Scanning 35mm Slides

It’s time for Tuesday’s Tip, a blogging prompt suggested by members of Geneabloggers. Last week’s tip was to review the information found on the website scantips.com in order to help you decide on optimal settings for scanning photographs based on your intended use. This week I wanted to build on that information a little and discuss scanning 35mm slides.

I don’t know about your family, but mine went through a phase in the late 1950s and into the 1960s where many of the pictures they took were in the form of color slides rather than prints. When my Mom passed these along to me, some were in little boxes but many were mounted in metal trays. (Apparently, there were at least two types of slide projectors, some that used carousels (rounded trays) and others that used straight trays. My family obviously owned the type that used a straight tray.)

Now even though my flat bed scanner can handle slides, I knew that scanning them was going to be much more of a hassle than scanning photographs, so I first wanted to see what they contained to see if it was going to be worthwhile. The slide projector was long since gone, so the first step was to remove the slides from the trays and then remove the little metal sleeves. In holding the slides up to a bright light to view them, I was able to get an idea of what was on them. As it turns out they contained  photos of my parents’ wedding and other various family events that were worth scanning.

In order to scan the slides, light needs to shine through them much like it does when they are viewed with the projector. I have an Epson Perfection 4490 Photo Scanner. It’s a flat-bed scanner which I purchased several years ago. Like many models of home scanners, it is designed to scan slides as well as printed photographs. However in order to scan slides, you need to remove the white panel on the lid of the scanner and use the appropriate plastic guide to line up the slides. Since I had no idea where my scanner manual was hiding, I brought up the online version to read the instructions. As it turned out, it was pretty easy to remove the panel and position the plastic slide tray.

The next step was to determine the scan settings, most importantly the scanning dpi. Since I wanted to be able to create decent-sized print quality pictures from the scans, I chose 3200 as the scanning dpi. In essence this means I could generate prints of at least 8 by 12 with a print dpi (or ppi) of 300. (Here’s where I would recommend going back to the scantips site for a discussion of dpi and ppi.). Just a warning, scanning at this resolution is agonizingly, mind-numbingly sloooowwww!! However if the slides are good quality and not blurry or otherwise damaged, the resulting scans are amazing. I have been able to open them in photoshop, zoom in to full scale and the detail and clarity is awesome! In the end, all of the time and effort has definitely been worthwhile!

Friday’s Find – webcemeteries.com

I would venture to say that most genealogists/family historians have heard of findagrave.com. It is definitely one of the most popular websites for user-submitted burial information. Well, a few months ago I came across webcemeteries.com. In a way they are the opposite type of service in that they provide “cemetery internet packages” to cemeteries both large and small in order for them to create websites and searchable databases of their own records. They also have an American Legacy Initiative that provides small cemeteries and independent genealogists with the tools needed to create and manage websites and databases for the burial records of legacy cemeteries.

When you visit the webcemeteries home page, you can click on the “Search Cemeteries” option to get a listing of all the cemeteries participating in their program. I did a quick count and came up with about 36 or 37 on the current cemeteries list and almost as many on the legacy list. I noticed several from Pennsylvania (which is where most of my research is centered), but there are other states represented as well.

If you find a cemetery of interest on the list, you can click on it to go directly to the website for that cemetery.  From there you can then click on the “Search Records” option and enter the last name (and optionally the first name) to get a list of matches within that cemetery. I tried a partial surname search (i.e. I typed “SMI” for the last name, and all the Smiths, etc were returned by the search.)

In addition to searching on a per cemetery basis, you can optionally search all the cemeteries in their system at once. In order to do this, select “Genealogy and Memorials” from the home page. You will be taken to the site cemsearch.com. The search box on this site will return a list of all the matching records from all the cemeteries in the webcemetery program. Clicking on one of the returned matches will take you to the individual cemetery record for further information.

Webcemeteries is a site definitely worth checking out. You may also want to monitor it every couple of months or so to see if any new cemeteries of interest to you have joined their program.

So that’s the Friday’s Find this week — webcemeteries.com!

Thriller Thursday – William S. Shaner’s Terrible Death

Today’s Thriller Thurday posting (a prompt suggested by members of Geneabloggers) is the tragic story of William S. Shaner.

William S. Shaner was born November 24, 1840, probably in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest child of Thomas Maberry Shaner and Naomi Strickland. William had a hard childhood in so much as his mother died October 4, 1849 just months before William’s 9th birthday. He and his younger siblings were apparently taken in by relatives or apprenticed out as none of them are living with their father in the 1850 census.

While there are a couple of other William Shaners in Chester County of similar age, it is believed that he is the William Shaner, age 9, living with the family of David (aka Daniel) Benner in East Coventry Township, Chester County, PA in 1850. (William’s younger brother, Davis E. Shaner, is living with Henry and Elizabeth Shaner and is listed on the same census sheet, just 2 families later.) Mr. Benner was a carpenter, and although William did not become a carpenter himself, it is possible that he was originally placed with the Benners to learn that trade.

At some point in the 1850s, William’s father Thomas married a woman named Margaret. Together they had a son Thomas Jr., born in 1859. By the time of the 1860 census, both William and his younger sister Phoebe had moved back home and were living in Uwchlan Township with their father and his new wife and son. Oddly enough both William (then aged 19) and Phoebe (then aged 14) are listed as having attended school that year.

On December 21, 1864, William married Sallie Milligan at the Lutheran parsonage at Lionville, Pennsylvania. Together they had two known children, Jefferson S. in 1865 and William in 1869. In 1870, the couple and their sons were living in Uwchlan. Sadly, Sallie died in 1876. And it was only about a year later, on December 20, 1877 that William S. Shaner met his tragic fate.

William was an employee of the American Wood Paper Company of Spring City, PA. Paper-making was a big business in Chester County, PA. As early as 1800 there were at least 8 paper mills and by 1874 there were reportedly 37 paper mills in the county. The American Wood Paper Company, where William was employed, was noted as being a pioneer in the use of wood as a raw material for making paper rather than the traditional rags, linen and cotton.

Paper-making was a hazardous industry and due to the nature of the machinery and the pulleys, personal injury was a constant threat. Sadly, William’s life was claimed in just such an industrial accident.

It was about 5 o’clock on a Thursday morning, and William was in the process of shifting some belts on one of the pulleys in the paper mill. Unfortunately he became entangled in the belt and was pulled between a fly wheel and the stone floor – a space of only about 5 inches in height. Although his co-workers attempted to stop the machine as soon as possible, it was too late. Just about every bone in William’s body was crushed. His neck was broken and his spine was fractured. In addition, his left arm was wrenched from the socket and his ribs were crushed. Physicians believed that his death was nearly instantaneous. His death was ruled a tragic accident.

William was 37 years old when he died. He was widowed and the father of two young boys. His sons apparently moved to West Chester, PA and were raised by their grandfather and step-grandmother, Thomas Shaner and his wife Margaret.

My connection to William S. Shaner is that he was my 3rd cousin, 4 times removed. If you also have a connection to this family, I would love to hear from you.

Wordless Wednesday – Grandpop’s Cousin??

Another posting for the Wordless Wednesday prompt suggested by Geneabloggers members.

Grandpop's Cousin

Credits: these are family photographs that have been passed down to me; the man in the photos is believed to be my Grandfather’s Cousin; scrapkit is one of my own.

Tuesday’s Tip – Know the Facts Before you Scan

This week’s Tuesday Tip (a blogging prompt suggested by members of Geneabloggers) deals with learning about the pros and cons of various scan settings before you start to scan your old photos. This is actually a topic that I originally researched back in the fall of 2009. At that time I was preparing to scan ancestor photos that my Mom had come across and passed along to me.

I decided to post about the subject now since it has been discussed quite a bit recently on the Legacy Family Tree User’s Group mailing list. It is also a timely topic for me personally as I am in the middle of another round of scanning. This time it is my own collection of pre-digital photos. Most of them are about 5-15 years old. (Okay, maybe some of them are even older, but they haven’t quite made it to vintage yet!)

In any case, scanning a large batch of photos, regardless of their age, most likely isn’t a job that you want to tackle more than once. So you want to make sure you have the settings “right” the first time. Back in 2009, when I was scanning my vintage photos, I started out having a few ideas about what would be good for scanning resolution, file format, etc. But as is typical, I searched the web to make sure I was on the right track and to get a feel for what other people were doing in this regard. As it turns out, the “right” settings are, at least in part, dependent upon the intended use of the scanned image (i.e. printing, posting to web, etc). [For my purposes I decided to use 600 ppi (or dpi) for the majority of photos and snapshot that I scan.]

When I first started round two of scanning I didn’t bother surveying the web again as I still remembered the information I gathered back in 2009. But then one of the posters on the Legacy mailing list mentioned a website called scantips.com. So I went to that site and, sure enough, it was one of the ones that I had checked out before.

It’s a great site, very well-written and very easy to understand. I actually wound up reading quite a few of the articles – some which seemed familiar and others which I think may have been added since I checked it out before. Anyway, if (or when) you decide to start a scanning project, scantips.com is definitely worth a read. The author of the website has a great discussion on photo resolution as well as the advantages and disadvantage of various image formats. So that’s my Tuesday Tip this week — get informed before you start scanning – and a great place to get that information is the scantips website. Hope it helps!!