Hacked Photo Centers and Scanning Options for Genealogy

The recent news of Costco and Sam's Club shutting down their photo centers due to hackers means a new set of options for scanning family genealogy photos.

A Recent Hacking Scandal Impacts the Genealogy World

In the past few weeks, several of the big warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club have had to shut down their online photo centers due to the hacking of a third-party provider. It all started when the provider for CVS photo services was hacked; it turns out that many retailers use this same provider for their own customer’s online photo processing needs.

What Do I Do If I’ve Used a Hacked Online Photo Service?

If you have been using the CVS Photo Center online or one of the other online photo centers affected, you should first make sure you are using a reliable credit monitoring service.

If you have been using the CVS Photo Center online or one of the other online photo centers affected, you should first make sure you are using a reliable credit monitoring service.  Usually, when a site has been hacked, to reduce their liability, a vendor will offer their existing customers one or two years of FREE credit monitoring. If so, take advantage of this offer.

What Are My Options for Photo Scanning Now?

The next thing to do is to explore your options for photo scanning and processing.

  • Do-It-Yourself: Many family historians, upon being given a large box of photos, negatives and slides, seek to do their own scanning. This means using existing scanning apparatus (usually a flatbed scanner or an “all in one” printer/scanner combo) or purchasing a new device. Keep in mind that as a DIYer, you are responsible for understanding the technology and the settings. One piece of equipment used by many genealogists is the Jumbl 22MP All-In-1 Film & Slide Scanner w/ Speed-Load Adapters for 35mm Negative & Slides, 110, 126, & Super 8 Films now 50% off at Amazon. But what if you have a HUGE amount to scan or you don’t have the time?

Are you sitting on a collection of old 35mm slides, 8mm or 16mm home movies, or perhaps boxes of photo negatives? I hope you realize that the material breaks down over the years . . . that’s why it is so important to scan and digitize those materials as soon as possible. The Jumbl High-Resolution Scanner handles many media types and does not require a computer or software – you can scan right to its internal memory or memory card! Right now the Jumbl, which has high ratings, is 50% off at Amazon – only $99!

  • Local Vendors: You could use a local vendor, but one main drawback is evaluating the reputation of their work. Not all scanning shops are alike! Carefully check the technical specs and ask questions such as “Are you using a rapid scanner, and if so, what is the final resolution of each photo?” and “What file formats do you scan photos to?” Also, check the store’s privacy policy in terms of storing credit card information. Better yet, pay with cash!
  • Other Online Vendors: Again, it comes down to reputation when selecting any online vendor for photo scanning. Not only should you ask about their privacy policy, but also get references or recommendations from past customers as to the quality of their work.

Larsen Digital – A Trusted Photo Resource for Genealogists

15¢ Photo Scanning to Digital Format - Exclusive Offer for Fans and Friends of GeneaBloggers: Converting photos to digital has never been easier! Just send in your loose photos to Larsen Digital and they will put them on a disc for just 15¢ per photo! Now is the time to stop procrastinating and pull out your boxes of photos and finally get them all converted to digital. All you need to do is get them to Larsen Digital and they will take care of the rest- creating high quality digital images from all your photos.

One online vendor that has a solid reputation and history of working with genealogists (they are based in Salt Lake City, after all), is Larsen Digital. I have personally used their services for photo scanning and retouching; the process is amazingly simple and at every step of the way, I felt that not only were my precious family photos safe, but also my personal information. Larsen Digital is a family-run business with superior customer service and they treated me as a friend and showed that they appreciated my business.  When was the last time you found that in any business, online or in-person?

Click here for a recent review of Larsen Digital and the wide variety of services they offer for not just photos, but also the digitization of audio and video tapes, slides, film negatives, home movies and more!

TWO Special Offers from Larsen Digital

This week I called up Larsen Digital and we discussed the issues involved with the recent photo center hacking. As a result, we came up with two different offers for followers of GeneaBloggers!

10% Off Photo and Slide Scanning – use promo code Thomas2015 and save – via Larsen Digital

  • 15¢ Photo Scanning to Digital Format – Exclusive Offer for Fans and Friends of GeneaBloggers: Converting photos to digital has never been easier! Just send in your loose photos to Larsen Digital and they will put them on a disc for just 15¢ per photo! Now is the time to stop procrastinating and pull out your boxes of photos and finally get them all converted to digital. All you need to do is get them to Larsen Digital and they will take care of the rest- creating high quality digital images from all your photos. Click here for the PDF form with instructions on how to take advantage of this great offer!

FREE return shipping on all orders over $100. Photos will be scanned at 300 DPI Jpeg and saved on a disc. This deal has been extended to August 15th (disregard the expiration date of June 30th on the PDF order form).

Restrictions: To protect the scanner and the photos, this offer is valid on:

– Photos sized 3×5 – 8×10
– Photos must Be Loose
– Photos need to be in good condition
– No Sticky adhesive residue
– Photos can’t be cut into odd shapes
– This special price can’t be combined with other coupons or discounts

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Family Tree Magazine’s “101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2015”

GeneaBloggers has been named one of the 101 Best Websites for genealogy for 2015 by Family Tree Magazine

This morning, Family Tree Magazine announced its annual list of the best websites, this year entitled “The 101 Best Genealogy Websites 2015.” The list is broken down into several categories including Best Social Media Websites for Genealogy, Best Genealogy Tech Tools for Genealogy, and more.

Family Tree Magazine’s Top 101 Websites for 2015

As the announcement from Family Tree Magazine states: “Each year, Family Tree Magazine publishes the 101 Best Websites for family history to guide genealogists to the top websites where they can make family history research progress, and to honor the individuals and organizations who create those sites.”

Family Tree Magazine is America’s largest-circulation genealogy magazine, helping readers discover, preserve and celebrate their family history. “In addition to our bimonthly print magazine, we publish how-to genealogy blogs, books, webinars, online courses and a free monthly podcast. By reaching out to a broad consumer audience and making genealogy accessible even to beginners, we aim to share the excitement of family history and bring new users to valuable websites such as yours. We also offer a free weekly e-mail newsletter your site’s visitors can receive by entering their information at http://familytreemagazine.com/enews.”

GeneaBloggers Members Named Top 101 Website for 2015

Several members of GeneaBloggers are included in this years list, all in the Best Blogs category:

Congratulations to those selected – please stop by their blogs and congratulate them!

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.


Will Your Family Preserve Your Genealogy Legacy?

Paul Brooks, co-found of Twile, provides a guest post at GeneaBloggers stressing the importance of working with family to preserve your genealogy legacy.

[Editor’s Note: In this guest post, Paul Brooks, a co-founder of Twile – an amazing new site that helps you create a family history timeline with photos and milestones – offers his tips on involving family members to help preserve your genealogy legacy.]

How can you make sure that your genealogy research is preserved and continued by future generations? The solution might be to get your wider family involved now, rather than simply making sure it’s passed down to them after you’re gone.

Surprising Genealogy Survey Results

A few months ago, Twile carried out a survey of 200 people who actively research their family history. We were interested in finding out why they were doing it and what they were planning to do with their findings when the work was ‘finished’.

Most said they had started their research looking for an answer to a specific question (e.g. who was my grandfather, where did my ancestors originate from) or it was triggered by an event (typically the death of a loved one).

What we found most interesting was that very few had given any consideration to what would happen to their research when they were no longer around.

I recently read After You’re Gone: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Research by Thomas MacEntee, which outlines a set of actions you can take now to ensure your family will inherit, understand and know what to do with your research. It’s a good book and serves as a useful checklist of things to consider, but there is an assumption that the genealogist is working in isolation, with nobody else in the family involved – and our research indicates this is often the case. Almost 75% of the family historians we surveyed received little or no contributions from the rest of their family and less than half shared their findings regularly. Many of them seemed to view it as a one-person hobby or didn’t feel that anyone else in the family was interested.

When pushed, most of our respondents said they would pass their findings down to their children, though few gave any indication of how they would do that. Perhaps the best way of ensuring your research will survive is to ensure it is continued – making sure that others in your family are actively contributing and sharing alongside you now, so they’re likely to keep it up after you’re gone?

Of course, this is easier said than done. It’s widely known that genealogy is typically a hobby for the older generations (though it is growing in popularity among younger Millennials) and a lot of findings are difficult for the wider family to consume (cryptic documents, citations, black-and-white photos of people they don’t recognize). You can probably secure their attention for a short while by talking them through the family tree, but how do you get them actively involved in recording your family history? Here are a few of my suggestions:

Find Your Allies

Working on the assumption that each family has a family historian, there should be one in each of the individual families that make up your extended family – if your children or your siblings are married, does anyone in their partners’ families share your hobby? You may find they’re exploring the same family lines you are. And you may find they’re as keen as you to get the rest of the family involved.

Ask Them

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. If most genealogists are 55 or older, then a percentage of under-55s in your family are going to become genealogists one day. You could probably get some of them interested now just by asking them. Ask if they’d be interested in looking through your research and then see if they’d like to learn how it’s done – you may find yourself with an apprentice!


You’ll probably find that most people in your family don’t actually know that genealogy is your hobby. Could you share your online tree with them by email or produce a paper copy that could be duplicated and shared out? Tell them your most interesting findings. If there are any budding genealogists in your family, make sure they know you’re the person to talk to.

Win Over the Young

If you can spark an interest in the younger generations now, there’s a chance it will evolve into a hobby – or at least an appreciation of those who came before. But you aren’t going to win over a 10-year-old with watertight citations or stories of surprising relationships – you’ll need to bring out the stories of war, executions, crazy careers and exotic foreign lands. If you can link your grandchildren to the Vikings or African tribes, you’re onto a winner. Make it a tradition to tell them a new story about their family history each time you see them.

Join Old With New

New family history is created every day. Every birth, wedding, first day of school, graduation, driving test, retirement and family barbecue adds something to your family’s story. If you can get your family to record their more recent events alongside your historical ones, you will have a living, breathing and ever-growing record of your family life – which is more likely to survive after you and is much easier for your family to consume and relate to.

We created Twile for this purpose and I use it to maintain a single timeline of my family’s past, present and future. I have three generations of my family regularly exploring and contributing to the timeline and I’m very confident that my children will add to it as they grow older.

I’ve found family historians to be incredibly passionate about their hobby, partly because they enjoy the research and partly because they have a genuine desire to preserve the memories of their ancestors. I think it’s a sad loss when the work they’ve done is not passed on effectively to their descendants and I hope that more can be preserved by getting the wider family interested and involved.

©2015, copyright Paul Brooks. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Paul Brooks is co-founder of Twile, an online genealogy tool aiming to make family history more exciting and engaging for the wider family, especially the younger generation.