Friday, March 27, 2015

Darned Wonderful Color Images

A scanner company recently published an interview with FamilySearch’s Michael Benson, an imaging services operations Manager in their Record Division. Some interesting tidbits:

  • The Genealogical Society of Utah, as FamilySearch used to be called, helped pioneer standards in the microfilm industry.
  • They are using nextScan FlexScan microfilm scanners when they can digitize microfilm on site in archives.
  • In one case FamilySearch is utilizing a volunteer who uses his motorhome as a mobile scanning center.
  • They recently adopted the Nikon D800 digital camera for taking color images.

Read the entire article on the nextScan website.

I’m glad that FamilySearch is moving towards color. Color is an important part of genealogical record analysis. Take this marriage license from (Click to see a larger image.)


What can be learned from the colors in this certificate that would have been lost if this had been photographed in black and white?

As long as we’re in analysis mode, what parts of Percival and Alberta’s story does this record tell that could easily be overlooked? As with any record, the more you understand about a place, the more you can pull out of its records. is also using color cameras. Take a look at this example. What can be learned from the colors?

Color image from collection "U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963"

Can you imagine how awesome it would be if FamilySearch, or, or NARA went back to the early, extant Federal Censuses and re-photographed them in color? All those out-of-focus, or overwritten names brought back to life in vivid color? Wow. How can I convince one of you to do this?

But I digress…

Darned, wonderful color images!


  1. If those censuses still existed ....

    The 1940 was destroyed after microfilming.

  2. One of the best examples I can think of for the utility of color scanning would be the valuation records of Ireland. Color coded ink entries added a great deal of significance regarding dates as properties were assessed and when they changed hands.

  3. I agree with Jacqi. If PRONI didn't offer color in its images of the Revision Books, the mysteries in one's tree would simply multiply. We's all be scratching our heads as we asked, Which of those cross-outs is meant by '87 and which by '98? Fortunately that's not the case. (In general I think many research sites could learn a great deal by studying what PRONI has accomplished. For those investigating Ulster, its offerings have become absolutely indispensable and it has met that challenge admirably. Nothing but praise here for PRONI!)


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