Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.
From the photo above, you can dramatically see why we need to digitize documents. The damage shown is actually pretty mild compared to some of the documents we have seen already. This particular document is beautifully written. Some are not so easily read. Here is an example of an unbound book that we will be digitizing in the next day or so.
My wife, Ann, and I are taking turns spending time digitizing and preparing documents. This pile of paper will take some special handling. We will be digitizing the pages in order so we need to take two side-by-side images at the same time. Then turn the page and go to the back side of the right image on the left side and the new image on the right side. So, we work our way through the document. Unbound images, such as this one, are actually easier to digitize than bound books. As you work your way through a book, the distance from the camera to each page changes, so you have to constantly adjust the height of the book with spacers. Here is a photo of a book that is being digitized.
You can see part of a foam wedge used to level the pages on the right side of the image. You can also see black foam mats that are used to mask off the rest of the book. This book is about two to three inches thick and weighs about 25 pounds. If we don't mask off the cover and other pages, the camera will not be able to properly focus and the images will include a lot of extraneous parts of the book.
Here is a photo showing what some of the books look like when we receive them. They have protective wrappings with velcro fasteners.
Part of the job is the moderately heavy lifting of the books. Here is a different set of books. The books come from different repositories. These books are all from counties in Maryland. We work on a project to complete all the probate books from a specific county. We are presently working on several counties. There are four cameras and each camera is assigned a specific set of county books to work on. Our camera is currently doing Mongomery and Harford Counties. We have around 500 books in this project. Here is a closer look at a probate inventory.
You can click on an image to see a larger view. I will be returning to this subject from time to time.