How to compile handwritten letters, printouts, and pictures for son?
August 20, 2013 1:51 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to put together years of handwritten and typed letters along with photos for my son that can be added to and later given as a gift?

I started writing to my son daily when he was maybe a week old. For the first year or so, I wrote on typing paper. I changed that to writing in a tablet. With arthritis, writing as long as I was got harder so I took to typing him emails then every couple days which is what I do now. Along with those letters, some days have a photo to go with.
I want to be able to put it all together so it looks good and flows. I want to keep the handwritten letters because they mean so much. I probably can't go back and type that full year over. The tablet though may have back and front pages so just ripping them out may not work. Then there are the emails that I can't go back and rewrite as I sometimes would like. In total there is maybe two years of writing total (he's two and a half). How do I put it all together in a way that makes sense, that I can continue to keep up with and later give to him? I really just want to avoid putting everything in a folder/box/album and putting an explanation for why some aren't handwritten.
posted by grablife365 to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
what age do you plan to give this?
posted by parmanparman at 1:53 PM on August 20, 2013

I have > 100 letters saved from, well, the days when people wrote letters. Many of them are deeply significant to me and I treasure the words and the people who wrote them. Losing those letters would be devastating.

Regardless of how you ultimately choose to present these important documents to your son, please consider scanning them now and putting the scans into the cloud or some other backup media.

I scan into a multi-page PDF file directly, which works great for letters, but you may prefer having the image files to fiddle with.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:13 PM on August 20, 2013

Response by poster: I'm not 100% sure on the age. I was originally thinking that I would keep up with it till he hit 10-12, give it to him and then write on special occasions. I'm not sure I can keep it up though. At least 5 years old though, I think?

Thank you for the suggestion to scan them in. I hadn't thought about that. I'm going to start that now. I would hate to lose them.

posted by grablife365 at 2:31 PM on August 20, 2013

I have a plastic box full of letters my parents (hand- and type-) wrote home when we spent two years in the middle of nowhere, Africa, when I was a kid. What I ended up doing was transcribing the letters and the captions written on the back of the photos, and scanning the photos and the pictures that my 5-year-old self drew on the letters, and compiling them into an ebook. I used a print-on-demand service to make myself and my mother each a paperback copy, and I kept the PDF version and the scanned files in several places on my computer, backup storage, and cloud storage.

The photos are already filed into acid-free archival photo albums, which won't last forever, as there's already been significant color shift--no thanks to Kodak film stock from the 70s that went magenta after a few years--but the scanned versions (at as high a resolution as I could do!) are my current long-term storage solution. I haven't attacked the physical letters yet, other than sorting them into chronological order and making sure the cats can't get into the box they're in, but my long-term plans involve figuring out what to do with them--maybe finding acid-free plastic or Mylar sleeves or at the very least interleaving them with acid-free paper.

Whatever I do, I'll need to do it in the next few years, as the paper is getting slightly more fragile as the years pass, the edges crumbling.
posted by telophase at 2:38 PM on August 20, 2013

It's great to scan - but... For a keepsake, be sure to have paper copies of your letters and your emails, printed on archival paper and stored in an archival box or album of some kind, in addition to whatever electronic files you keep. (Think about trying to access your computer files from 15 years ago today, even if you have the files - might be tricky, as operating systems and programs have changed.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:41 PM on August 20, 2013

If you need to take the tablet apart to scan or otherwise store the pages, have the spine cut off rather than tearing the sheets out. If it's a coil/wire/comb binding, you can also just pull/cut that out.
posted by teremala at 5:05 PM on August 20, 2013

Craft supply stores have aisles and aisles of scrapbooking supplies. At a minimum I think you should start getting the paper for the letters there (even if you don't intend to put them in a scrapbook) because it's one of the easier places to find a variety archival-quality paper.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:50 PM on August 20, 2013

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