My Photo Collection

I remember when I was a little boy and we went to visit my Great Grandma Stevens in Long Beach, she had this large closet off of the hallway and it was filled with things which I was fascinated by. What history was hidden in there? On the wall of the closet was a very large framed photo of nine people, taken about 1910. Every time I would visit, I would ask her who was in the photo and she would tell me the names of her mother and her 8 brothers and sisters, lined up in three rows in their order of birth – 3 girls, 3 boys, and 3 girls.

When I was 11, I started to plot out my family tree and kept asking questions of my parents, grandparents, my 3 great grandmothers, and my great grandfather, and a life-long hobby was born.

At some point when I was a young teenager, my Grandma Doyle gave me 21 old photos, as long as I promised to take care of them. I was so excited! This began my life-long passion with collection, sorting, identifying, and sharing family photographs.

The following is a little history of this collection.


One of my early indexes, typed with an old-fashioned typewriter, 147 photos in the collection.


Second Generation index, handwritten, 1,721 photos in the collection.

Screen Shot 2012-08-20 at 9.26.27 AM

My photo index was then moved to an Excel Spreadsheet, 1,846 photos in the collection.

Screen Shot 2012-08-20 at 8.51.53 AM

The index has now been imported into Apple’s Aperture 3 program, with each data field associated with a scanned version of the photo.

Screen Shot 2012-08-20 at 8.51.03 AM

The Apple Aperture 3 database currently holds 9,645 items, mostly photos, but also scans of old documents, genealogical correspondence, etc.


Each photo is cataloged, numbered, placed in an acid-free envelope, which is then placed in an acid-free archival storage box. All of this location information is stored in my database, allowing me to quickly and easily locate any original in the collection.


Grandpa Doyle’s Slide Collection, dating from 1948 to 1976. There are an estimated 2,400 slides, only a third of which I have scanned so far. Eight boxes, six trays per box, and up to 54 slides per tray. Of course the specific location is being stored in the database.


Various sets of slides collected over the years that have not yet been scanned into the collection.


Mom & Dad’s photo collection. I have spent hours organizing these photos by year and matching each photo up to the negatives. Still a lot more organization needed before I can begin cataloging and scanning. This stack of boxes is chest-high.


A four-drawer file cabinet holds my research notes, genealogical correspondence, etc. Note the 8mm film collection on top.


Some of the family heirlooms in the collection.


A fireproof safe holds the most important treasures.


Two fireproof file cabinets hold boxes of cataloged photos and other treasures.


Grandma & Grandpa Shetrone’s photo collection – only some of which has been cataloged and scanned.


Grandma and Grandpa Shetrone’s photo collection. None of this material has yet been cataloged or scanned.

I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to collect all of these family photographs and heirlooms, and consider it my duty to help to organize and preserve these items. I am crossing my fingers that someone in the next generation is interested enough to carry on this work.

This entry was posted in family history, family photos, family tree, genealogy, photo identification. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My Photo Collection

  1. You collection is amazingly huge! I have been trying to come up with a good working system for cataloging my photographs. Your work is inspiring. 🙂

    • Deborah says:

      Words escape me with your organization and progess! Keep up the great work! You are inspiring us all. When you are finished with your’s…would you assist in my “collection” ? 😉

  2. Danny says:

    Have just purchased Apple’s Aperture 3. You have already given me ideas for my
    genealogy photo collection.

    Thanks Much

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