Review: Larsen Digital

Recently I had Larsen Digital scan several family photos for me and I was not only blown away by the excellent results, but especially by the customer service!

A few months ago, I was contacted by Larsen Digital (http://www.slidescanning.com) to review their photo scanning services. For year now, I have referred genealogists to use Larsen Digital based on their solid reputation and the fact that they were located in the Salt Lake City area. So, when Kristin from Larsen Digital offered to scan some of my family photos and produce a DVD slide show, I knew it was time to see for myself how Larsen’s services performed.

Why I Didn’t Scan These Photos Myself

I am a big proponent of all aspects of “Do-It-Yourself” genealogy including scanning documents and photos. However, there are times when I would rather go to the experts for these services. Here is why:

  • If I have a limited number of an item, such as 100 slides, I cannot justify purchasing a $100 or $200 scanner that I will never use again!
  • Using a service like Larsen Digital is a big timesaver and economical. If I tracked the time I spent scanning photos, correcting color (and hoping I got it right), etc. . . . and compared it to the price per slide or photo for a scanning vendor, I bet I would save money.
  • I am not an expert in scanning. Period. I know the basics and the equipment I use, such as my 10-year old flatbed scanner, could do an acceptable job. However, do I want just “acceptable” for my family history items? If I am dedicated to leaving a family legacy through my genealogy research and family history materials, then I owe it to my family to get it right.

More About Larsen Digital

In speaking with Kristin at Larsen Digital, I discovered that, “Larsen Digital is a family owned business founded when the owner, Brent Larsen, tried to do genealogy work for his grandmother. Without the ability to easily create copies of the photos and videos to enhance the genealogy, Brent had to find an alternative way to preserve his family’s legacy.”

“Since 1995, we have been offering our digital conversion services making it easy for families to preserve their cherished family history forever. We do all our work ourselves and we would never outsource or work to India. We are focused on staying up-to-date with current technology trends, offering our customers the latest in technology.”

As I reviewed the Larsen Digital site, here are a few key issues I noted that not every scanning vendor offers:

  • Use of professional equipment and the highest standards to ensure the best possible scan.
  • All scanning is done right here in the USA! They never outsource their work!
  • Free return shipping on orders over $100.
  • Free color correction on most scan orders.

Some other nice features of Larsen Digital’s service: They will upload your files to various cloud services including Dropbox and Google Drive. In addition, you can get a free sample scan of five slides, one negative strip or five photos!

I Was Amazed at the Finished Product!

I sent a small group of photos in a padded envelope using the prepaid label that Larsen Digital had sent me. After about a week, I received an email from Kristin with links to download the digital images as well as the slideshow. My originals followed via UPS a few days later and arrived safe and sound!

About four or five of the photos showed significant aging, mostly just bends and cracks; I had selected them on purpose. A wedding photo had some bends and a tear on the right side of the photo.  Another photo of my brother Michael and me (see above) had “something going across one of the boy’s eyes.” Larsen decided to restore these two photos so that I could see the difference between color correction and full digital restoration.

Recently I had Larsen Digital scan several family photos for me and I was not only blown away by the excellent results, but especially by the customer service!

The slideshow is a great way to share these photos with my family members! I downloaded the mp4 format file and the show comes complete with music:

Conclusion

I was more than pleased with the work performed by Larsen Digital. At every step during the process from placing my order to receiving my originals back, the team at Larsen made sure I received email updates about my project. If I had questions about the ordering process or if I needed to check on the timeline for completion, I could always call or send an email. The customer support was phenomenal.

I am seriously considering sending a large group of negatives and my 8mm home moves to Larsen. I keep delaying this monumental project, telling myself that I will order a scanner and get to it someday. Well, as I wait for that “someday,” guess what? The material used to produce the negatives and movies degrades and at some point, no amount of color correction or restoration can save those memories.

The services at Larsen Digital exceeded all of my expectations and I would definitely recommend them to any genealogist and family historian.

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A Special Offer from Larsen Digital

I have secured a special offer on several services from Larsen Digital. Take advantage of these deals soon – they expire on March 31, 2015. Visit http://www.slidescanning.com and get started today on your new project!

  • 20% off Movie Film & Video Tapes – use promo code Genea20
  • 15% off Slides, Negatives, Photos & Scrapbook Pages – use promo code Genea15

Visit Larsen Digital at RootsTech

I will be at RootsTech in Salt Lake City later this week and I will be stopping by the Larsen Digital booth (#1408) to say hello and thank Kristin and her group for all their work. If you are at FGS 2015/RootsTech, please visit Larsen Digital!

Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Review: On Your Own – How to Design And Construct A Family History Book to Inform And Captivate Readers

On Your Own - How to Design And Construct A Family History Book to Inform And Captivate Readers offers useful and practical advice, with extensive illustrated examples, of how to create your own family history book.

I’ll admit that as someone who has self-published both print and e-books, I have an advantage and can employ all the “tricks” and “inside information” when producing a book. But what if you wanted to take years of genealogical research and present it in printed book format to share with family and friends? How would you get started? Do you know the steps to be completed and the pitfalls of the self-publishing process?

With On Your Own – How to Design And Construct A Family History Book to Inform And Captivate Readers by Elayne and Stephen Denker you’ll learn the ins and outs of creating a well-formatted and enjoyable family history book that your family will cherish for generations.

Highlights – An Abundance of Ideas and Formats

At 77 pages, you might think that this guide is “light” or doesn’t cover many self-publishing and formatting options. Not true! Inside you’ll find valuable information:

  • Page Layout – a review of how to select fonts, set margins, add images and more.
  • Page Design Examples – a gallery of different types of sections to include in your family history book such as pages with maps and data, cemeteries, family trees, etc.
  • Software Tools – a review of basic concepts and how to use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Photo Editor as well as how to scan images and text.
  • Enhancing Documents – tips on the best methods of working with both digital photos and text.
  • Large Format Records – the problem with large census sheets and other documents can be vexing even for experts; lots of good advice on how to include these items in your book.

The only issue I found in working with On Your Own: the Software Tools section needs to be updated and made current. I’d love to see an updated version of this guide that covers photo tools such as Picasa, GIMP and others. In addition, rather than covering just Microsoft Word, branch out to include Google Docs as well.

Conclusion

On Your Own – How to Design And Construct A Family History Book to Inform And Captivate Readers by Elayne and Stephen Denker is more than just a handy “how to” guide for the DIY family history self-publisher. The authors show you their own publishing journey, complete with extensive illustrations. As you read, you’ll want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down ideas for your own family history book!

On Your Own – How to Design And Construct A Family History Book to Inform And Captivate Readers is available in softcover format via Amazon and Maia’s Books.

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Review: JPASS at JSTOR – A Valuable Resource for Genealogy

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

This past August, during the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in San Antonio, I stopped by the booth of a new vendor: JSTOR and discovered a wonderful new product called JPASS. I’ve known about JSTOR for some time now and have used the research service at libraries and archives.

What is JSTOR?

Before we get to my review of JPASS, here’s what you should know about JSTOR if it is unfamiliar to you. JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org) is a not-for-profit organization created to assist libraries and publishers and is comprised of a digital library created in 1995. The goal was to allow university and college libraries free up shelf space and save money by digitizing content.

There are over 2,000 academic journals on the JSTOR database covering many different topics, many which will interest genealogists and family historians. Currently, JSTOR is available for free in over 9,200 institutions worldwide.

Will you find genealogy records on JSTOR? No, but you will find articles and materials that provide you with background information and can assist your research. An example, using my own research: articles on the Huguenots that settled in New Paltz, New York. I wanted to know why they arrived in New Paltz and why they left France (migration push and pull causes) and other information about their daily life.

JPASS – JSTOR Access at Home and On the Go

JPASS (http://jpass.jstor.org/) is a product from JSTOR that allows for personal access to approximately 1,500 journals in the JSTOR database. This means not having to trek down to the library to pull that article that I need. Or, if a research question pops into my head, I don’t need to write it down and wait for my next visit to the library.

As JSTOR advertises on its site: “JPASS gives you access to more than 1,700 academic journals on JSTOR. If you don’t have access to JSTOR through a school or public library, consider JPASS your personal digital library.”

JPASS is available in one-month and one-year plans and with the one-month plan (which I was given access to for this review), you get unlimited online reading access and you can download up to 10 articles a month (120 articles with the one-year plan). You also can create a MyJSTOR account so you can access JSTOR 24/7 from any device. What I like most about the MyJSTOR feature is the ability to set up alerts for specific search terms and I can save citations as well.

The Basics

Here is what you get when you purchase JPASS from JSTOR:

  • Pricing is $19.50/month which is good for short term projects. You get unlimited reading and you can download a total of 10 PDF articles per month.
  • Save by upgrading to a one year plan at $199, with the same unlimited reading and allowing you to download 120 PDF articles per year. You can use downloads at your own pace, meaning that with the one-year plan you are not rationed to 10 PDF articles per month.
  • JSTOR provides a full refund on JPASS within two weeks of purchase if no more than 10 downloads are used.
  • The monthly plan does not automatically renew and if you don’t renew, you still have access to the PDFs downloaded via MyJSTOR.
  • With MyJSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/action/registration) you can receive free, read-only access to as many as three articles at a time for a 2-week minimum. Where available, users may purchase articles after reading.

JPASS: Easy to Use and Hard to Stop

I started using JPASS by researching my Huguenot ancestors in New Paltz, New York (Hugo Freer was my 9th great-grandfather). So I enter the search query and press the search icon:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

There were 51 results which I perused. Results are broken down into category using the Journals, Books and Pamphlets tabs:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

Next, I clicked on an article title to get more information and to view the PDF online.

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

Once I decided that this was an article I wanted to download, I clicked View PDF and a confirmation dialog appeared:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

I recommend not checking the “Don’t show . . .” option since the dialog tells you how many downloads you have remaining. And here is what the downloaded PDF looks like:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

Another great feature is ability to mark articles using Save Citations:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

I like being able to access the articles I have already read online at JSTOR. For my recent article Hiding Out in the Open: Researching LGBT Ancestors, I read several articles related to gay history and saved them for later review.

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

More from JSTOR

Want to use JSTOR for free at your local library or archive? Visit JSTOR’s Library – Institution finder (http://about.jstor.org/jstor-institutions) to find a location near you.

And here’s a neat feature: JSTOR Daily (http://daily.jstor.org/) is the JSTOR blog featuring unusual and interesting articles. Add it to your RSS feed reader or sign up for their bi-weekly newsletter to stay on top of the latest developments with JSTOR and JPASS.

Try JPASS for Free!

You can request a free 10-day trial by visiting http://jpass.jstor.org/freetrial. The free trial includes the following:

  • Unlimited reading access to more than 1,700 journals across the humanities, social science and science journals in the JSTOR archive for 10 days.
  • 3 complimentary article downloads that are yours to keep even after the 10 days are over.
  • Opportunity to sign up for a monthly or annual JPASS plan!

Conclusion

I highly recommend the JSTOR database if you are visiting a library or institution; in addition, it is well worth your time and money to try JPASS for at least one-month! I was amazed at what I found to help my research and as I’ve said, it is so easy to get lost in the many different journals and articles. As a result of using JPASS, I’ve been able to supplement my own genealogy research and better understand how my ancestors lived as well as what records they left behind.

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.