How should I organize my family heritage digitally? Quick and easy methods needed.
My family has inherited most of my ancestor's "important" family items, such as photos, diaries, birth certificates, old papers, mementos. This has mostly happened because we have the biggest house and when an ancestor dies the boxes end up in our basement. Frankly, a lot of it is an organizational disaster. Suitcases filled with unlabelled photos, bread bags filled with old letters and cards. I have been buying good-quality archival boxes from demco
as a starting point to at least get the stuff stored in a way that doesn't damage it. (These are the boxes university archivists buy ... a librarian friend clued me in. They are great.) But I am a working professional without a lot of time to dedicate to the project. Now we have a 17 year old cousin that will be hired by our family to digitize and organize whatever he can. So the question is how should he do it?
We want to burn DVDs of whatever we can and give copies to relatives at Christmas, preferably in a format that looks nice. But we are also aware that this is a process, and that it will never be 100% done and perfect. We obviously don't have a team of archivists that can work for years on this project, so we have to do the job the "best that we can" rather than the "best possible way."
Do you recommend any specific software for making a kind of "portfolio" of family heritage in an easy way? Maybe something that will output our heritage in a digital format that will not die when the software is nonfunctional with the next operating system? (I am thinking HTML might be good. Or something simple like labelled folders.) What steps give the best results with the least effort? What digital formats should we use? Are there companies that can digitize family history documents like diaries for us if we pay them? Any suggestions would be most appreciated.