The Keeper of the Memories Project

It was a slippery slope, the series of mundane events that led me to where I sit today, on top of boxes upon boxes of jumbled photographs and barely contained, broken-binding albums. And still they pour in, between inherited photos from relatives now passed, and my grandmother digging out photos from her childhood.

Add to that my reignited passion for photography and my tendency towards obsessive categorization and cross-categorization, and you may begin to see the depth and breadth of the project that has taken over my life.

Keeper of the Memories

This is only a portion of the hard-copy photographs. There are more. And then digital cameras were invented...le sigh.

I think of the Keeper of the Memories Project as my Kraken, slumbering beneath the depths of clothes on my closet floor until I open a box and wake it from its slumber, only for it to throw its multitude of of photographic suckers upon me and try to drag me under.

My goal as the family historian is to preserve and make sense of this mess and make some real, physical photo albums, even though I am making said albums digitally. This project has been going on and off for about a year now, and there is still much to do.

Keeper of the Memories Project

This is the "scanned" pile

There is another wave of photos coming from my grandmother the next time we see each other. What will it take to transfer a box of photographs into a nice, neat hard-copy, digitally-created scrapbook? Here are the steps:

  • Add any who/what/when/where information I can to photo hard copies.
  • Organize by date as best I can. Sometimes holidays, events and even hairstyles are used as date reference points in this process.
  • Scan photos.
  • Upload to Creative Memories Memory Manager.
  • Sort out duplicates. I could do this prior to scanning, but it is much easier when the files are already digital.
  • *Add photos to folders (people, places, etc.)
  • Add file names, dates, descriptions and ratings (wall quality=5-star, scrapbook main image=4-star, scrapbook supplemental images=3-star, keep=2-star, maybe delete=1-star).
  • Touch up, crop and edit photos as necessary.*
  • Sort out into individual scrapbooks (usually with a few photos per page)
  • Make digital scrapbooks with StoryBook Creator.
  • Find a wall solution for 5-star photos.
Creative Memories Memory Manager

Memory Manager can handle all the organizing crazy you got.

There, not too much work, right? Except I am working with about 10,000 photos, with boatloads more joining the mix all the time, both old and new.

As soon as the spring gardening and school are over, I am looking forward to diving back into this project and flailing around some more. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to spending one hour per week keeping up on the *italicized portion above of this process with the new photos I am adding every day.

I have the first album I have created almost ready to be printed. I can’t wait to have our first carefully crafted photo album maybe ever in my hands. It will feel like progress.

There are too many amazing photographs to just be sitting in boxes and on my hard drive, but I know this is a project with no end in sight. It is an obsession that may well last the rest of my life. Or at least until we all have holobands.

You will be seeing more of the Keeper of the Memories Project soon, but in the meantime, let me share one of my favorites that I saved from certain demise. I don’t know what got ripped out of this stitched together photo, but it doesn’t matter. It is magic all the same.

Grandma and Grandpa

Grandma (age 20) and Grandpa (age 22), June 16th, 1945.

How do you keep and organize your family photos? Do you use albums or scrapbooks? All hard copy, all digital or somewhere in between?


  1. Kristen "enjoying your rainbow theme" Thomas says:

    I am going to do this with my winter! I have a large box full of photos and most of them are ones I can get rid of so I need a good system like yours. I think I need to simplify it to 1,2 or 3. Keep maybe trash! And some of the maybes once uploaded I may trash. What do you think? Are they worth keeping once uploaded?

    • Natalie Webb says:

      You will have plenty of cold months for it! I don’t know if it’s worth keeping all of the uploaded ones, but being a paranoid hoarder, I’m gonna. You just never know. Plus, the things written on the back can be so priceless, especially seeing it in the original handwriting.


  1. […] Add to that my reignited passion for photography and my tendency towards obsessive categorization and cross-categorization, and you may begin to see the depth and breadth of the project that has taken over my life. {Read on!} […]