Every now and again a customer walks through our door, carrying a box. It’s a simple cardboard box. A shoe box, perhaps, or something larger. An ordinary container with extraordinary contents. The customer will say something like, “I have some old photos that I need to organize. Can you help?” And with this simple question begins a marvelous journey.
When people bring their family archives to the Digital Butler, they come looking for a service: to have images scanned – and maybe retouched – printed into memory books or saved to CD. Sometimes they have an 8mm film that hasn’t been watched in years, which they need transferred to DVD.
The images that pass through the Digital Butler’s scanners describe a vast range of families, places, events and emotions. They celebrate events both big and small. A momentous occasion or a child in quiet contemplation, caught on camera. We’ve seen photographs of wars and weddings, portraits that are posed and photos that are just plain silly.
But while the technicalities of transferring one medium to another are straightforward, what happens next is not. The stories that emerge from these pictures are, without fail, remarkable. Every tale brings new insights into some aspect of history, whether on this continent or another.
But as marvelous as these mementoes are, they can only ever tell us half of that great story. While some have notes on the back, but many do not. Many customers bring their photos to us because they are trying to make sense of a story that’s unfinished and full of holes. Time and again we hear, “I wish I knew more about these people. I don’t even have their names.”
If we are lucky, we can ask our parents and grandparents about these faces from the past. Who they were, what they meant to our family. What they tell us about who we are and where we came from. But as time goes by, that window closes and the stories are lost.
When it comes to collecting our family stories, there truly is no time like the present. And why do these stories matter? Because at some point, everyone asks: who am I? Where did I come from? And because we need something to tell our children when they want to know, too. There is so much we can teach them, simply by showing the common thread that runs through our families, through thick and thin, and binds us all together.
So when you are ready, when it’s time to gather the threads of those stories and bind them together, please call on the Digital Butler.
We can help.