2020 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2020-06-08.

Go to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT:  Presenting, as well as preserving, your family history are closely related and doing one helps with the other.  This class will discuss ideas and freeware programs to help with both of these including scanning and file naming, finding it on your computer, storing and showing the data, backing it up, collaborating with others, and having your data so you and others can see later what you have done.  The goal is to have your family history organized, presentable, and in a format that will last longer than you do.  The notes with active links and related articles are on .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes with active internet links and related articles are posted on .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control (CTRL) key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  Presenting and preserving your genealogy are closely related.  The idea is to work so you, or your descendants later, can pick up where you left off.  Examples and details will be in Powerpoints, demos, and videos.

  6. Obviously, the very best way to present and leave your information is to have it all organized into a computer genealogy database, distribute copies to other people, print out multiple copies on acid-free paper, write books and articles about it all, citing all the sources and giving all the stories and photos, make videos to show your family, and put all the information for deceased individuals in an online database such as FamilySearch Family Tree.  But who will take the time do all that?
  7. Being organized yourself as you work makes it easier for you to pick up where you left off and for others to see what you have done.
  8. Home database and collaboration
    1. Use a computerized genealogy program on your home computer with all the data for living and dead; set the program to keep track of changes and when you made them
    2. Use an online collaboration with your family or others, so they can access your data.
    3. Use research logs of some kind, so you and others can tell what you looked at and found and what else you intend to look at.
    4. Digitize all your documents, pictures, slides, and artifacts, and label them so they are findable with what they are.
    5. Include stories, photos, research logs, and links for information in your computer database.
    6. Make slideshow videos of some of the pictures so they can be viewed easily -- People will look at short videos, but won't take time to go through lots of photos
    7. Be sure someone knows where to find your passwords. 
  9. Online database, e.g. FamilySearch Family Tree
    1. Store your proven genealogy in an online website like FamilySearch Family Tree with the documentation, sources, photos, and stories.  Anyone, Church member or not, can sign up for a free account and this gives them a Private Space, as well as access to the Public Space.
    2. Upload as much into your Private Space in Family Tree about living people as you feel comfortable with; any time you enter data on someone born less than 110 years ago and with no death date, it goes into your Private Space automatically and only you can see it; as soon as you enter a death date for them, they are automatically moved to the Public Space and everyone can then see their data; they will then need to be combined with other copies of their records in the Public Space
    3. See more information on the FamilySearch Blog --
    4. Gary Wright's series "Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally"
    5. To find additional information search the blog for words like "preservation", "digital", "format", etc.

  11. Have backups, backups, backups!  Keep at least two generations of previous backups and delete older backups later.  Have backups stored online or somewhere other than just in your home to avoid losing it all in a computer crash or other disaster.
  12. To help find and sort files, include the date in International Date Format after the name; for example, [file name]-YYYY-MM-DD.[ext]; this date format (year-month-day), makes them sort chronologically with the latest at the bottom, so it's easy to find.
  13. DROPBOX -- -- can store backups of your database; you get 2 gigs of free space to store any files you want; you also can designate access to others and can get to it from anywhere; the main problem here is that when two people inadvertently work on the database at the same time and then save it, only the latest one is saved and you don't know that the other one has been lost; GOOGLE DRIVE (15 gigs free) has same problem -- 
  14. ANCESTRAL QUEST -- -- has a very helpful free feature  that you and others you designate can collaborate on the same database, but only one can work on it at a time, so you don't have the Dropbox problem; you can also backup your latest AQ database to your own computer and view it without being online, but you can't change it when not online
  15. EVERNOTE -- -- free program with commercial versions having more features 
    1. Notes are saved in notebooks of two types: (1) Sychronized notesbooks (available to you anywhere over the internet) and (2) Local notebooks (only available to you on your own computer
    2. EVERNOTE is available for all types of devices, e.g. Windows, Mac, smartphones, tablets, etc.; free program can be installed on any two devices, e.g. your computer and smartphone, but you can use the web version in a broswser on your other devices 
    3. Great place to save info, notes, links, webpages, research logs, data, and, if your device has a camera, it can be used as a scanner and will "square up" rectangular documents
    4. Can share a note or entire notebook with whoever you want
    5. Can use a local notebook (saved only on your own computer) to store your passwords and private data (medical, financial, etc.); safer since this doesn't go over the internet; can backup lthese by copying to flash drives and/or transferring to other computers

  17. New scanners scan directly to flash drives without using a computer; many FHCs have these
  18. Scan documents at 150-300 dpi -- Library of Congress Rule of Thumb is scan at 250 dpi for each inch of final size
  19. Scan portraits to flash drive as tif's at 600 dpi 
  20. Scanner automatically names files sequentially as Scanned-image-1.pdf, Scanned -image-15.tif, Scanned-image-7.jpg, etc.
  21. Use freeware program like BULK RENAME UTILITY --  -- to change all file names from "Scanned-image-##.[ext]" to "--Scanned-YYYY-MM-DD--##.[ext]" -- date is written in International Date Format YYYY-MM-DD (largest-to-smallest, year-month,day) so alphabetizing sorts them chronologically
  22. Use EVERYTHING (free from ) or FILE EXPLORER -- both have Preview Panels to allow seeing what's in the file without opening it, but allowing you to rename it
  23. FILE NAME EXAMPLE 1:  SnowEldonStafford(1891-1954)-1913-00-00-SCHOOL-DixieCollegeTranscript-1913-Color--Scanned-2013-04-03--22.pdf
  24. FILE NAME EXAMPLE 2:  ManwaringDiane(Snow)(1934-2012)-2012-10-10-DEATH-CERTIFICATE-UtahDeathCertificate--Scanned-2012-11-03--34.pdf
  25. Name first, followed by event date in International Date Format makes them sort in order from anywhere on your computer by using EVERYTHING
  26. Including search keywords such as SCHOOL, MARRIAGE, DEATH, or MILITARY, allows finding and showing all of thoe files for the person in chronological order
  27. For documents applying to entire life of the person, can put keywords such as HISTORY, PEDIGREE, BIOGRAPHY, or GENEALOGY before the event date so they sort with the person, but after all the event-dated items
  28. For photos that are not portraits I use a difyrent system, since there are usually so many     
  29. To store the hard copy documents I put them in physical file folders named "Scanned YYYY-MM-DD", so I can find the originals by their scanned dates and I know which are already scanned
  30. The freeware program EVERYTHING can be used to edit file names, find, run, move, copy, rename, or delete files from anywhere on your computer -- to move files to a single folder, highlight them in EVERYTHING and drag-drop them to the folder
  31. Files named with my system all sort in chronological order without EVERYTHING when all in  a single folder
  32. More details about all of this is in other articles and notes on my website  

  34. Download and store photos from digital camera in folders by year
  35. My naming system for digital and digitized photos and slides is different from my system for documents -- has date in front
  36. Use freeware program NAMEXIF -- -- to extract date and time from metadata in each photo and put it at start of file name in International Date Format; this makes photos sort chronologically so photos of same event are sorted together -- requires that you keep the date and time set correctly on your camera
  37. Add other descriptive and keywords in title after date -- this is what takes the most time
  38. Freeware program EVERYTHING finds all photos for any date, event, location, persons, or keywords in title on your computer in any folder; they are sorted by date, if you have put the date in International Date Format in front, even if you haven't taken time to enter other keywords 
  39. For photos and slides that you scan (not from your camera) they only have date scanned in their metadata, so you have to estimate the date to put in front
  40. 35 mm slides -- scan these yourself or have them done professionally; use 2000-4000 dpi resolution for archiving
  41. Small Wolverine slide scanner (about $100 from Costco Online); scans slides and negatives at 4064 dpi; fast (about 3 seconds per slide), but is labor-intensive since you have to feed the slides or negatives in by hand; could hire a grand child to scan them for you
  42. For photographs some FHCs have new Kodak Photo Scanners for photos up to 8 1/2 inches wide, scans both sides at once in various resolutions and formats; very fast and easy to use; I recommend saving archive copies of photos as 600 dpi tif's; tif format is loseless, unlike jpg; can archive jpg's, if you don't edit the originals, just copiy the original and edit that  
  43. Many free programs to help organize and generate slideshows of your photos
    1. GOOGLE PHOTOS -- free and helpful for storing photos
    2. PICASA -- still free and available, but not from Google, and not being updated
    3. PHOTO GALLERY -- free from Microsoft -- may already be on your computer since it is in Windows
    4. Both PICASA and PHOTO GALLERY do editing, slideshows, and facial recognition to help you organize your photos, but their labels are only in that program and not in the metadata, so they don't transfer when you copy the photos; PICASA has a way of saving some labels to the metadata
    5. EVERYTHING and FILE EXPLORER help for photo naming with the preview panel opened; can make the preview window larger by dragging the border to widen it; can see the picture without having to open it, so you can rename it easily
    6. PHOTO FILMSTRIP -- freeware program to make "Ken Burns"-type videos of your photos  -- -- shows apparent motion in the still picture; also allows captions and music or narration; helps hold people's interest
  44. Can upload your photos of people to FamilySearch Family Tree to preserve and share
  45. Helpful information about scanning resolution at  and the National Archives Recommendations at -- recommendation is to scan so final result has 250 dpi (dots per inch) for each inch you want to print; hence, from a one-inch photo or slide, to make a 10-inch print you need at least  10 x 250 dpi = 2500 dpi

  47. Digitize old analog sound recordings, such as tapes, as soon as possible since they deteriorate and so they can be stored, edited, shared, and uploaded
  48. Transcribing digitized sound recordings -- use freeware LISTEN N WRITE -- -- which has keyboard shortcuts to start and stop the sound recording and a panel in which to type what you hear; can also type what you hear into any other text editor, e.g. LibreOffice or Word; more details in other notes and articles on my webpage; smartphones have a transcribe option, but it may require too much editing later
  49. 8mm movies -- new commercial transfers of these take out the flicker and are worth paying for 
  50. VHS (video) tapes -- can transfer to DVDs yourself or have it done commercially which usually gives better quality, but is expensive  
  51. After converting movies and VHSs to DVDs, they can be edited and converted to other formats, if needed; two helpful freeware conversion programs are Handbrake -- -- and --  Format Factory -- 
  52. Can extract parts of DVDs with freeware programs and form videos of a single individual, for example

  54. This has been loaded with information and most of these topics can and have been expanded into full classes.  See class notes and articles on my webpage
  55. Hopefully, this has given you some ideas to present and preserve your family history so, it will last longer than you do.

  56. Go to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .