Monday, April 05, 2010

Still cleaning up ...

And now for something completely different …

The workspace clutter, as you may recall, really got to me a while back, and I decided I HAD to do something serious about it. Consequently I have taken a break from family history research for a few weeks.

As I saw it, the major culprits in this mess were boxes of 8mm home movies, and miscellaneous collections of material from various trips I have taken over the last 25 years or so (yes! that long!). There seemed to be no place else to put these but the office floor, and, besides, they were always something I was going to deal with sooner or later.

How is it that what we think of as a modest little project blossoms into one of gigantic proportions? Well, I knew the travel items would take time to deal with, but really! Memorabilia, journals and photos had been stashed in large expanding envelopes, but there was no order to them.

I won’t go into details here (it would take a book), but am happy to report that so far I have all the travel diary entries transcribed and entered on my laptop. I have gone through most of the collections of ephemera -- tickets, brochures, maps, photos and postcards -- and sorted them; I even discarded a few things -- something that is extremely hard for me to do. Each event is in a tidy storage box, awaiting final disposition. And, gradually, I am working on getting them into albums of some sort.

In the process I have learned a lot (which is certainly applicable to other endeavors, like genealogy). I have learned how to illustrate my journal text with scanned items (good old “copy and paste”), and make space for actual items to be inserted (“text boxes” work). I have even developed a table to record my progress (otherwise there was no way to keep track of which trip I was working on).

I am not a scrapbook or crafty sort of person and didn’t want to turn this into a lifetime undertaking (like genealogy), but I am drawn to matters dealing with type and layout; a hobby printer before the computer age, I once had an antique jobbing press, cases of metal (or “hot”)type, and sundry printing equipment and supplies. This typographic interest has served me well in this current project. And even though the final product is not intended for publication or distribution (who else cares?), the creation of it is a most enjoyable experience. It allows me to relive those many trips while experimenting with layouts and presentation -- and at the same time using the very virtuous rationale of cleaning up the office.

On the other hand, the family movies ARE intended to be preserved for others -- the family! So I was overjoyed to find someone who was able to digitize the film for me -- reels and reels of it. She is even going to help me learn about editing it. Again, I don’t look for this to be of Oscar-winning caliber; the old filmed images simply need to be safely stored in a contemporary format (how many people have projectors any more?). I plan to do a minimal amount of editing (or get one of my more talented children to take the job on), using the current Mac version of iMovie.
Learning to use this program is giving me ideas about old family photos, too, since “movies” can be made using still shots as well as moving ones.

So, in both these projects there are some surprising connections to genealogy.

1 comment:

Mr. Dickie said...

Good job and interesting description. I'm working on some of my clutter issues too. Today I took five crates of books to the library bookstore. I just had to accept that someone else might like to read some of the books I'll never get around to reading. I'm also reviewing 3.5 inch floppy discs trying to remember why I saved all that genealogy information. My goal is to physically group the GEDCOM files in one or two cabinets and the "text" file floppies in another cabinet. Maybe there is even a way to use the computer to catalog the floppies. I already created a catalog of the 29 Zip discs I've used so far.