Family Album

In this online workshop, we share what you need to know to preserve and archive your own family stories. Whether you’re interested in stories from your biological or chosen family, this video will cover everything you need to get started.

Event transcript (abridged)

00:23:42 Neel Agrawal: Hello! My name in Neel Agrawal, based in LA. I’m a panelist and would be glad to help answer your questions.

00:25:45 Amber Abbas (she/her): Thank you, donors, for making SAADA’s work possible!!

00:26:11 Pradnya Haldipur: Will you share the giving link here, please?

00:27:17 Rituja Indapure: Link to donate-

00:27:20 Maryam Ahmed: Hi, the link to give to SAADA is available here:

00:28:51 Ayshea Khan: Welcome everyone! My name is Ayshea Khan, SAADA Board Member and archivist. Happy to answer any questions you may have via chat throughout the event!

00:29:22 Lilly: will there be a way for us to show our archiving at a later date?

00:29:37 Jayasri Hart: I'm looking for someone who knows the Pittsburgh Univ archives. I need my grandfather's 1911 yearbook.

00:31:02 Tara Maharjan: @Jayasri Hart- You should reach out to UPitt's archives. Here is a form to contact them:

00:31:26 Karimah Rahman: Question: Are you only based in the US or Canada as well?

00:31:45 Rumu Sarkar: I've started an archive project already in terre Haute IN.

00:31:46 Michelle: @Jayasri your best bet is to set up an appointment and make a physical trip there, once is it safe

00:32:14 Fazia Rizvi: I’m also interested in attaching some of my family’s history to preservation efforts of places - like specific buildings that other groups are looking to preserve those places. Any thoughts on that sort of effort?

00:32:15 Michelle: University might not have digitized its yearbooks

00:34:38 Preeti Mathur: I have also written a book on Indian Americans in Minnesota and have participated in Oral History projects with the Minnesota Historical Society--am interested in continuing that as well along with my family history

00:35:46 Jayasri Hart: Are you planning to expand SAADA archiving outside of USA? You'll need major server access!

00:38:28 Amber Abbas (she/her): And your perspective on it may change over time!

00:39:03 Nilam Bedi: Do you know about an organization similar to SAADA in other countries, e.g. Canada

00:39:54 Aman Kaur (she/her/hers): In the polling question, there was a mention of digital records. How is archiving physical items different than items that are already digital?

00:40:11 Amber Abbas (she/her): @Aman- we’re going to cover that, stay tuned!

00:40:23 Aman Kaur (she/her/hers): I’m thinking about social media posts in particular.

00:40:24 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): How do you organize the materials that you collect? Is there a reference/outline/tracking system that helps with this?

00:40:33 Karimah Rahman: Good question @NilamBedi !

00:40:34 Aman Kaur (she/her/hers): Thank you, Amber!

00:40:42 Ayshea Khan: Great question Aman! We will be talking about the difference more in our later discussion

00:40:52 Michelle: You got any advice on how to store papers at home so it avoids deteriotation? Or if you got lots of newspapers?

00:41:31 Pam Mann: Use archival description guidelines to organize by object type and store appropriately for preservation. See Rules of Archival Description RAD - can modify for your purposes and choose what is appropriate for you.

00:41:49 John Laxmi: Here’s a generic problem, the solution to which could be a Billion Dollar business. Like many others, I have approximately 20,000 photographs printed on paper. I want to manually sort them chronologically or by topic into batches. Then, I want to run 50 to 100 of them at a time rapidly through a machine which scans them and stores them into a digital file. I can then label each batch by period or topic.

00:41:51 Sandhya Jain Patel: (1) Digitize everything, even if you’re keeping the physical (2) Get plastic lock-top boxes and make that your limit in terms of what physical space this archive will take (3) Do a little every so often, DON’T WAIT.

00:41:53 S Mitra Kalita: What if we have things that people in India might be interested in? Like old mining certificates and diplomas. Do we know if they want these things?

00:41:55 Shalin Mody: I usually only hold onto things if I truly cannot capture what the thing is in a photo or short video...or just a handful of heirloom items and finding loving homes for the others.

00:42:10 Aparna Kothary: we’ve been doing zoom calls with fam and just recording them. we’ll have one or two guiding questions and then just go with the flow

00:42:20 David Griess (they/them): Or having the “perfect” equipment setup

00:42:27 Amber Abbas (she/her): @Aparna, what an awesome idea!

00:42:49 Pam Mann: Paper should be stored in acid free folders/boxes in Humidity and Temperature that is appropriate for paper conservation - See website for Canadian Conservation Centre = for the specs

00:43:02 Shalin Mody: @Aparna - yes definitely great idea!

00:43:12 Rita Meher (she/her): +1

00:43:33 Shalin Mody: UV light is pretty to be protected from at all time. Humidity, too.

00:43:44 Pam Mann: UV light fades materials, get UV filter or store away from light - avoid damp spaces due to mold

00:43:44 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Aparna, that’s a great idea!

00:43:45 Pradnya Haldipur: Very interested in digitization. There don't seem to be very good "out of the box" platforms for scanning, storing, and tagging documents and photos in a SEARCHABLE way.

00:44:02 Shalin Mody: +++ @Pradnya

00:44:03 Pam Mann: always elevated storage

00:44:03 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Very true Pradnya!

00:44:15 Sandhya Jain Patel:

00:44:37 Surina Diddi: I am passionate about my family history. However, some family members don’t value it as much. I am worried that physical objects may get damaged. Any advice on how to combat this? Many people in India often don’t value their personal family narratives...

00:44:49 Elsa (she/her/ella) Ramos: Q: I would love to hear the panelists response to what brought them to archiving and why it’s important to them.

00:44:59 Sandhya Jain Patel: @pradnya, the Notes function on your phone can also scan paper. Then you can upload them into a Google Drive with subfolders.

00:45:20 Aparna Kothary: also realize that my parents were wya more comfortable talking on zoom and being recorded than having some kind of video camera set up in person

00:45:27 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Surina - I think leading by example is a great start - creating a platform where some of these materials can be shared might help them see the value and encourage them to participate in preservation

00:45:27 Shalin Mody: I've been looking for some way to do can add tags and things in the EXIF or other areas, but it's not easily searchable unless you have a special tool. Having a filename nomenclature can help, though

00:45:41 Pradnya Haldipur: @sandya, Google doesn't allow for tags.

00:45:49 Pam Mann: Key to proper digital storage and retrieval is to have a consistent file naming process and to have a guide that explains this

00:46:03 Swati Khurana: No chai and biscuits while going through boxes and boxes. Noted.

00:46:22 Pradnya Haldipur: First chair and biscuits and THEN boxes

00:46:28 Nicolette Khan (she/her): But yes to chai and biscuits during oral histories, Amber?

00:46:30 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): lol

00:46:31 Pam Mann: There are many open access programs available for digital collections

00:46:40 Jigna Desai (she/her): Google docs also has voice dictation so can do some quick and dirty transcription during oral histories and interviews. Have not tried its fealty outside of English.

00:46:48 Pam Mann: Keep food and drinks away from records as spills may happen

00:46:50 Sandhya Jain Patel: @pradnya, you can tag the Note when you scan, then put in the proper subfolder in your drive. Also you can tag by color and have a color code.

00:47:18 Preeti Mathur: But how do you deal with the enormity of the task--I am totally overwhelmed with the task. I have started with broad categories but that has been a rather a slow process,

00:47:29 Shalin Mody: latex gloves are fine - bottom line, be careful

00:47:45 Padmini : 1. I would like to put together a written plan for defining the material, who the collaborators are, how family trees/material are stored and who has ownership of the material, etc. Could you provide a template for such a document?

2. There are so many branches to the family tree I have created, it becomes confusing to know how to store the files. Do you have any recommendations of how to create files for different branches, how to keep track of common ancestors in different branches?

00:47:53 Shalin Mody: @Preeti - totally. Need a gameplan.

00:47:55 Pradnya Haldipur: @sandya, yes, but this is not a system that is friendly to family members contributing or searching

00:48:22 Asha Paulose: Most of our black and white old photos are in old school album with film. The film usually has stuck to the photo - any advice on how to handle those?

00:48:25 Rani Bagai: This is also why thin plastic paper sleeve/protectors is useful for old letters, photos, and small clippings. You can get a big box fairly cheap from an office supply store.

00:48:43 Aaisha Haykal (she/her): If an item is dirty you can brush away the dirt with a fine brush

00:48:55 soniachopra: also would love tips on deputizing other family members. how can i get retired parents/other relatives to split up some work and record things (in terms of stories etc) in an organized manner?

00:48:56 Padmini : 3. Are there places I can share this material that allows for collaboration and privacy? All the free, cloud based services like drop box and google drive, seem to have their privacy issues.

00:48:59 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Ditto Asha’s question. Those 60s and 70s photo albums with film have stuck to many photos.

00:49:13 Puja Ghosh: agree with Preethi... for one of our elders we have years of posters, articles, and more. We are priviledged to have an embarrassment of riches but we just get overwhelmed whenever we start.

00:49:20 Sandhya Jain Patel: For stuck photos, USE A PHOTO CONSERVATOR.

00:49:29 Neel Agrawal: @Preeti, good point. I’d recommend documenting your priorities in order to help make informed decisions.

00:49:31 Shalin Mody: +++

00:49:31 Sanka: What does a "final" archiving project look like? I am sure this is different depending on project.

00:49:42 Sandhya Jain Patel: Photo conservator:

00:50:08 Pam Mann: OMEKA is free software to create digital collections

00:50:45 Sandhya Jain Patel: There are companies that can digitize a whole box of mixed materials for you: or

00:51:08 Sandhya Jain Patel: (I’m a trained paper conservator, having worked at the Met Museum, hence all the references)

00:51:08 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Good question, Sanka! I think it's just as important to have a final project that is shareable as it is to have something that will stand the test of time!

00:51:19 happie datt: how to keep a stack of letters separate or is it not needed?

00:51:35 ramesh shah: Can you recommend any services that are very good at converting photos and videos to digital where they will remove static from old videos, ensure copies are made with correct color, etc. And where the files provided in a universal format and editable by us.

00:52:02 Sangita (she/her): This might have been covered already, but: thoughts on those three-ring plastic protectors? the ones that are made to go in binders

00:52:03 Shalin Mody: @Sandhya - yes, for quite a price! They're rather good, but also happy to take your $$$$, haha

00:52:10 Jigna Desai (she/her): Cloud storage is good for sharing with others. Hard drive is good for consolidating in one place.

00:52:15 Ashley May: yes I have my grandfathers entire collection of African American and West Indian history and theory books from his college days

00:52:20 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Any special tips for fabric? Especially those old sarees.

00:52:21 Sandhya Jain Patel: @shalin, you get way you pay for…! ;)

00:52:24 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Ramesh - there are a lot of mom and pop places across the US - this list is a start, not sure how up-to-date it is:

00:53:00 Sandhya Jain Patel: @Fazia, roll them around crumpled tissue in between clean cotton sheets, and then tie with fabric (cotton) ties. Like wrapping paper.

00:53:01 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): +1 to question on preserving sarees!

00:53:04 Shalin Mody: There's a local digital scanner small business where the owner used to do optical work at NASA. I've used him but find I can do the same with a good scanner for a fraction of the price.

00:53:13 Sandhya Jain Patel: (I’ve also worked for a textiles conservator)

00:53:19 Jigna Desai (she/her): As you put things into these digital archives, what is the best way to organize and index to know what is in them? Make a list — what to include in terms of information: Who, what, where, when, etc. But suggestions for keeping track of everything

00:53:28 Shalin Mody: +++

00:53:38 VV Ganeshananthan: Tara, could you please tell us the title / ed / author of that book about archiving photographs?

00:53:47 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Thanks for all your answers Sandhya!

00:54:03 Ayshea Khan: If you have resources to purchase archival supplies look for “Acid-Free” for paper enclosures (folders, boxes, etc) or “PVC-free” for plastic enclosures (photo sleeves, etc)

00:54:07 Aaisha Haykal (she/her): CollectionBuilder is an open source tool for creating digital collection and exhibit websites that are driven by metadata and powered by modern static web technology.

00:54:08 Joan Ambo: Are there any photo albums that are recommended?

00:54:54 Sandhya Jain Patel: @Fazia, My pleasure. I’m *passionate* about conservation. No sparking joy by disposal here…! LOLZ

00:55:01 Pam Mann: Keep negatives in cold storage

00:55:13 Amber Abbas (she/her): Photographs: Archival Care and Management By Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler (look for it at your local library, looks like it is out of print)

00:55:17 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): lol!

00:55:36 Shalin Mody: Year || Event / Document / Item is the minimal way to organize - may be a useful first cut at filenaming...

00:56:04 Rani Bagai: Amazon and other dealers sell baseball card protectors, that hold 4-6 cards each, they’re made to fit in 3-ring binders. They’re GREAT for photos.

00:56:27 Sandhya Jain Patel: For archival photo albums:

00:56:28 Sangita (she/her): Rani thanks for that info!

00:56:32 Sandhya Jain Patel: It’s what a lot of museums use.

00:57:23 Sandhya Jain Patel: Legacy Box is having a 60% off right now (

00:57:30 Tara Maharjan: When looking for photo sleeves you will want polyester or polypropylene sleeves (they can be polyethylene but these are slightly frosted)

00:57:41 Sabiha Khan: best practices on file formats in terms or lossless formats, digital obsolescence,

00:57:48 Sabiha Khan: ?

00:57:57 Nooreen R (she/her): are photo albums an acceptable way to store photos?

00:58:43 angelina: Admins - there are many great resources in the chat. Will the chat be saved and distributed along with the recorded meeting?

00:58:44 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Tip: I’ve found that using Adobe Lightroom to organize my digitized photos helps: I can record all the information about who, what, when, etc. in the meta tags for the photo. But also, I can share the digitized with the younger cousins and they get all excited about getting their fam to do the same.

00:58:51 Amber Abbas (she/her): Effective curation is tied to knowing your goals for preservation

00:59:03 Tara Maharjan: Photo albums can be a good way to hold things as long as it keeps your photos in individual sleeves.

00:59:16 Shalin Mody: Any thoughts on Archive CD/DVD discs?

00:59:33 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Your digital collection doesn't have to necessarily mirror your physical collection! You can start with just a subset of materials that you want to share widely

00:59:34 Pradnya Haldipur: AH! Had not thought about Adobe Lightroom

00:59:41 Ayshea Khan: And please remove your photographs from those magnetic/plastic cling pages! So bad for your photographs

00:59:53 sadiya patel: you can save the chat on zoom, if you click the three dots, it gives you the option to do so

00:59:54 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Shalin - CDs and DVDs are actually fairly high risk materials - digital files are more secure

00:59:54 Amber Abbas (she/her): @ Angelina Yes, we’ll save the chat and redistribute the resources. We’ve also got some other resources to share with you later

00:59:56 Preeti Mathur: Several of my friends are tossing photographs after digitizing them. What do you think?

01:00:18 pranav: Assume you'll get to this, but would be interested to know best practice/your recommendation for what resolution/file type to scan hard copy photos

01:00:47 Prakashini Kharod: how about storing on an external hard drive? How safe is that?

01:00:50 pranav: Would also like to know best way to "rip" VHS videos, a machine? Costco? Are there also resolution considerations for doing so?

01:00:50 Michelle: Do not toss the photos after digitization and make sure you keep your digital files in at least two locations

01:01:10 Michelle: external hardrive and cloud, just to make sure if one fails there's another available somewhere

01:01:20 Nicolette Khan (she/her): +1!

01:01:23 Prakashini Kharod: Thanks!

01:01:30 Amber Abbas (she/her): For the songs you taped off the radio, Samip, get Spotify! :)

01:01:30 Michelle: that way you still have the physical items

01:01:31 Ashley May: +1

01:01:36 Asha Paulose: How do handle privacy? e.g. I want to post my parents first wedding anniversary but there are people in the photo that I have no clue whether I am offending by posting it

01:01:52 Tech Support: SAADA will be sharing the chat conversation following the event!

01:01:55 Amber Abbas (she/her): But for those sentimental mix-tapes your friends gave you, get those transferred.

01:01:59 Shalin Mody: @Nicolette - yes, most *consumer* level plastic CD/DVD can degrade over just 10yrs or so...but I understand (and sometime use for work) Archive level CD/DVD products. However, I don't know what the general thoughts are on using those as a primary or back'd have to also keep around the CD/DVD players, too.

01:02:08 angelina: I recently purchased a converter for a approximately $20 to convert VHS to digital

01:02:11 Rani Bagai: Yes those old photo albums from the ‘70s with the peel-back plastic….these are TERRIBLE for photos. Take the photos out.

01:02:31 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): @Prana - I did it myself rather thanking a service because I had a working VHS machine. With the proper cable (I can’t remember the name of it right now) I attached the VHS player directly to my iMAC. I used the free Elgato Video Capture software to then play and record the tapes.

01:02:49 Shikha Bhatnagar: Talking a lot about outside services. Are there resources we can share with lower-income populations who might not be able to afford outside services - or on a more basic level, may not be able to communicate with these archivists due to language access?

01:02:51 Sandhya Jain Patel: @Rani, OR please ask a PHOTO CONSERVATOR to do it…! Otherwise damage can be done during the removal process.

01:03:14 Tara Maharjan: @Rani - YES! Those old photo albums are awful

01:03:27 Sapna Gupta: In terms of storing the photos after taking them out of the 70s photo album, what type of material should we use to separate the photos?

01:03:33 Michelle: with the hard drive, test it periodically to make sure it's still working and storing the items there

01:03:36 Siddhartha Banerjee: Is there anyone here who has used an European archive to find information on a forebear who may have studied in Europe a few generations ago?

01:03:39 Shalin Mody: Honestly, I'm planning to work with some of my scrap booking friend(s) and have a kind of scanning party and using it as learning session about my family's story <3

01:03:44 Padmini : Do you have any suggestions for translation services for audio/video recordings in regional languages?

01:03:49 Simi (she/ella/amor): Thank you, @Nicolette. I was getting totally overwhelmed.

01:03:50 Aman Kaur (she/her/hers): There was a comment about the VHS is more stable than CD/DVD. What is factored into determining the stability of a format?

01:03:58 Amber Abbas (she/her): And don’t let professional grade standards stop you from making an effort to preserve something you care about and want to keep close!

01:04:02 Pam Mann: If you want assistance go to your local library or academic library for assistance rather than commercial

01:04:28 Tara Maharjan: I love the idea of a scanning party with family. It is a great way to learn more about the images.

01:04:40 S Mitra Kalita: Translation - try Hemant Wdhwani of

01:05:26 angelina: How about 8mm or 16mm films?

01:05:26 Nicolette Khan (she/her): DVDs and CDs are more susceptible to data loss and VHS is more susceptible to physical degredation

01:05:40 Pam Mann: Set a standard process for scanning, file type, scanning resolution (dpi), etc.

01:05:41 Nicolette Khan (she/her): 8mm and 16mm I would recommend finding a professional to do

01:05:49 Shalin Mody: @Nicolette - gotcha,..ok

01:05:50 Nicolette Khan (she/her):

01:06:02 Aparna Kothary: scanning is a great project for parents stuck at home during covid! give them a project :)

01:06:06 angelina: @Nicolette thank you!

01:06:06 Ayshea Khan: Yes, many public libraries or local history centers may have scanners available for no/low cost. There are also some free digitization apps for your phone that you can use for paper materials. We have been using GeniusScan at the Austin History Center

01:06:23 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Yes, Ayshea - I meant to mention that!

01:06:27 Shalin Mody: @Arpana - haha, totally! Just be ready to be tech support! :-P

01:06:32 Pam Mann: Digitizine film is more complicated and may require professional assistance

01:06:50 Michelle:

01:07:54 Preeti Mathur: create some cross references too--when categorizing

01:08:29 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): Are there impressive examples that we could see how others have done this well?

01:09:07 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): And also see the variety of ways of organizing/naming systems can be done

01:09:17 Padmini : Are there any safety/security issues about publishing private family material for immigrants in this country? There is a darker underbelly of xenophobia in America, but also, there is all sorts of issues at our home countries (for ex, religion or caste system or politics). What are your suggestions for thinking about safety/security/privacy/thoughtfulness?

01:09:18 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Panelists - are there any forums that we can join to chat with others about our projects, ask questions, share tips and just generally get some support? Particularly any forum that understands the sort of objects, different language, etc. that we might work with? Or one connected with SAADA?

01:09:27 Rani Bagai: There’s one other aspect about digitizing photos — often there are notes or important information on the BACK of the photo. So think about scanning both sides, or somehow preserving those notes.

01:09:48 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Good question Padmi!

01:10:45 Sandhya Jain Patel: @Fazia, check out

01:10:46 Shalin Mody: +++ @Padmini

01:10:48 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Seconding Rani’s note - I found my great grandfather’s signature on one, and a love not from my mother to my father on another as well as names, places, dates.

01:10:51 Pam Mann: This is why you need to create a file description or metadata to accompany each object - where you record descriptive data about the object including what is on back of photo

01:11:00 Jayasri Hart: @Rani, thanks! As a user of archival material, it helps to have back and front scanned

01:11:09 Pam Mann: Scan both sides of photo as well

01:11:17 angelina: @Neel - are you suggesting to scan in both color and black/white tiff files?

01:11:32 Pam Mann: oops I see someone already said that!

01:11:59 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Thanks again Sandhya!

01:12:06 Surina Diddi: Hi All, I have an old hotmail email address... haven’t used it in over 6-8 years... I tried contacting the platform on how I can access it, and they didn’t respond. Any advice on how to get access to these old emails?

01:12:13 angelina: Re cloud storage - how much is reasonable to pay? For example, some services are $100/year. Which over time, will be a considerable amount of money

01:12:37 pranav: Would appreciate your thoughts on optimal place to store digital files - cloud service, NAS device, other? Also, what about backup strategy?

01:13:06 pranav: In your resource sheet would be nice to see a comparison of different file types (tiff, jpg) and pros/cons

01:13:24 Pam Mann: Google photo is free or Dropbox from Microsoft for cloud storage, but always have a backup for these

01:13:53 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): TAM!!

01:14:08 Shalin Mody: NAS and similar can be relatively inexpensive... You can also consider what's call a "Digital Strongbox"...but that may become expensive...

01:14:32 Jayasri Hart: What do you all think about families uploading and sharing photos on social media? Some branches of my family see that as archiving.

01:15:03 Amber Abbas (she/her): I love the idea of putting text alongside photos in your family archive

01:15:21 Aliya Khan: + Thank you! It's so helpful to remember that by making our family archives personally shareable and functional, it ensures that people other than ourselves can access and remember these materials and that's also important for future preservation.

01:15:23 Shalin Mody: @Jayasri - yeah...I totally get that. Thing is, someone has to create a Google doc/sheet of links to the variety of albums...

01:16:35 Sharmila Rao Thakkar (she/her): Helpful guidance and ideas here today, thank you all so much! Would SAADA consider a blog post, checklist, and/or tips/tricks sheet with all the options, resources, links, advice, things we should think about that have been mentioned during this discussion?

01:16:44 Shalin Mody: +++

01:16:54 Samip Mallick: We’ll be sending out a resource sheet tomorrow!

01:17:01 pranav: would be nice to hear thoughts/best practices on granting/share access to the "master archive" with family members? Or is better to copy over portions/specific memories to a social service to share (eg facebook)?

01:17:12 Jigna Desai (she/her): Is there an easy way to download an entire blog?

01:17:14 Jayasri Hart: @ Samip. Thanks!

01:17:20 Shalin Mody: @Samip - thank you, thank you, thank you!

01:17:30 Swati Khurana: That;’s true, we curate a lot on Social Media. It’s a good reminder what can flag us to to the original sources. And to download. So many of us use images but also the posts we make are dated like a diary.

01:17:38 Sharmila Rao Thakkar (she/her): TY Samip! These questions are excellent and the answers very helpful, if they could be included as well.

01:17:43 Godan Nambudiripad: I am troubled by the thought why should I archive.

01:18:09 Sharmila Rao Thakkar (she/her): Yes, Godan. I hear that from some, as well...

01:18:46 Shalin Mody: @Godan - that's a fair question. For some, the past should be left there... for others, they'd like to have a "reference book"...

01:18:50 Jayasri Hart: @Godan. That's what my grandparents said. I wish I could have been old enough to persuade them otherwise.

01:19:53 pranav: regarding ripping/.digitizing videos, do you recommend editing those? for example, a family video could have 50% errant/wasted footage. If so, is there a good software to do so?

01:19:53 Aaisha Haykal (she/her): @godan good question. Sometimes it is not for us, but for the future.

01:19:55 Rani Bagai: @Godan, good thought. I think one should ask oneself, who am I saving this for? Is there a family member now, or in the future, who will value this? Is it of interest to historians? Too researchers? Basically, who will be the audience for this?

01:20:07 Simi (she/ella/amor): @amber any best practices on what to ask + how to approach tough memories?

01:20:22 Shalin Mody: @Simi - good one...

01:20:33 Shalin Mody: tough, but good

01:20:38 Pam Mann: Think of preserving knowledge for future, all the great stuff that is being lost

01:20:47 Jayasri Hart: @Godan. Without oral and personal records, we would all have to swallow the "official" version of what happened. We all know about "subaltern" history in India, right?

01:20:59 Shalin Mody: +++

01:21:04 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Great point, Jayasri!

01:21:16 Simi (she/ella/amor): @shalin my dad passed 5 years back and I have so many regrets that I didn’t ask him about Partition …

01:21:31 Michelle: Story Corps does a great job with oral histories

01:21:35 Simi (she/ella/amor): @jayasri yes!

01:21:48 Rakhee Jain: Love that - how do we know the importance of a story until it’s told

01:21:48 Shalin Mody: +++ @Michelle, yes they have a great set of resources

01:22:13 Shalin Mody: A pretty big set of questions to ask, too

01:22:32 Michelle: A copy gets archives at the Library of Congress, too, and here's an example of someone who was really grumpy about doing her interview

01:22:46 Simi (she/ella/amor): Thank you @michelle

01:22:58 Jayasri Hart: Helps us to see complexity. YES!

01:23:17 Sandhya Jain Patel: @simi,

01:23:39 Stephanos Stephanides: thank you - yes, to seek complexity

01:24:00 Simi (she/ella/amor): Thank you, @Sandhya! Fantastic.

01:24:18 Tara Maharjan: SAADA's first days project is a great topic to start: (Expect if your father says he doesn't remember like mine.)

01:24:20 Neel Agrawal: @angelina - I’d suggest scanning at the highest quality that meets your budget and space needs. For example, you could scan a high quality uncompressed TIF (at a high resolution), which will be a large file. Then you could convert the TIF to another (smaller) format for sharing the files. Or from the outset, you could produce a lower quality JPEG if you don’t want to maintain such large files.

01:24:29 Egan Davson: central organizing event is helpful. trajectory...interesting

01:24:41 Tech Support: Amber’s oral history interview with her father:

01:24:46 Sandhya Jain Patel: Simi, also this:

01:24:57 Thank You Amber. Your advice on Specificity & complexity & quieting the inside critical voice to downplay it..

01:26:07 Sara A.: Thank you Amber

01:26:24 Egan Davson: yes, thank you

01:27:05 P. Banerjee: Could someone comment on memoir in the context of oral history? In a way, it is simpler and less fraught than an oral history "interview" and may be another way into keeping memories alive, perhaps with photographs selectively included....

01:27:08 Neel Agrawal: Here’s another example of an oral history from the SAADA First Days Project:

01:27:10 Neel Agrawal:

01:27:37 Simi (she/ella/amor): @Sandhya thank you so much.@amber “Being a good steward of that story.” YES.

01:27:38 Joan Ambo: Thank you for a very informative program, unfortunately, I need to sign off.

01:27:53 Shalin Mody: @Neel - THANK YOU! My Mom and Uncles/Aunties wouldn't dare be a first mover to be so honest

01:28:16 Shalin Mody: They really need to see someone else "go first" to have permission

01:28:25 Jayasri Hart: @ P. Banerjee. Thank you! i'm trying to get my brother-in-law to write his. He and I have different priorities, unfortunately about what's important.

01:29:29 Egan Davson: do these interviews need to be one on one or can you do group interviews or conversations?

01:30:06 Sandhya Jain Patel: Thanks Samip, Amber, and SAADA. I have to run and feed these people with whom I cohabitate :P . Looking forward to the resource sheet!

01:30:55 Shalin Mody: One trick I've been doing is asking my Mom and Uncles/Aunties little questions of their younger years on WhatsApp. Then there's a natural, but still short, discussion. Like around the time of the 2018 election, I had asked them about voting in India and voting in the USA. Similar about having any favorite books, movies, etc.

01:31:13 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): Wow, love that Shalin!

01:31:14 Simi (she/ella/amor): @shalin, ohhh! I like it.

01:31:16 Nicolette Khan (she/her): That's so great, Shalin!

01:31:38 Tech Support: @egandavson, you can also do a group interview. Our ACFP Fellow Gaiutra Bahadur conducted an oral history interview with two people:

01:31:40 Shalin Mody: It works better in a big ol' group chat :-)

01:32:06 Swati Khurana: This is such a resonant conversation. This may sound morbid CN: death……………………An oral history I did of my grandmother many years ago (for a college class) was really helpful in writing her obitiary. And it’s fascinating to think about the obituary as a form of writing/publication because so many people will read an obituary, people who wouldn’t read “history.” Many funeral homes allow for obituaries of any length.

01:32:14 Surina: Any advice about finding a translator or transliterator for Urdu or Hindi / Punjabi poetry?

01:32:18 Pam Mann: Thank you for the great tips on Oral History Interviews

01:32:36 Karimah Rahman: Yes I wanted to ask are there any other descendants of indentured labourers here doing archival family research?

01:33:17 Jayasri Hart: @Swati. I've been so grateful to schools for making kids do these "interview grandpa/grandma" projects.

01:33:25 Simi (she/ella/amor): @swati I love that. Thank you.

01:33:34 Emily Kwong: StoryCorps has a great round-up of resources for recording interviews, and an app for recording too!

01:33:38 Suma: any tips for doing interviews remotely? Has anyone used zoom to record family history interviews?

01:33:41 Jigna Desai (she/her): Also had my teenagers interview their grandparents with me there. It was a great multi-generational experience where I could help clarify, translate, and deepen. We recorded some of these.

01:33:47 Preeti Mathur: Our kids have gifted us both StoryWorth--we get questions every week they have selected (via email) that we write and at the end of the year our stories will be bound in a book,

01:34:03 Zuha Khan: re. finding a translator/transliterator, find universities that have language programs in the language of your interest. email the undergraduate or graduate student department advisor asking them to forward your translation request to students

01:34:15 Jigna Desai (she/her): I have to leave. Thank you everyone!

01:34:31 Shalin Mody: Thanks for you input and questions, Jigna :)

01:34:35 Surina: Thank-you Zuha!

01:34:49 Zuha Khan: You’re welcome!

01:35:37 Neel Agrawal: @Suma - Zoom and Skype are good options for remote interviews

01:35:44 Egan Davson: thanks @TechSupport. I just imagine pairing folks to calm folks and each participant keeping each other “honest” about memories of how events truly happened. imagine some care to accuracy to some degree.

01:35:58 Ayshea Khan: @Karimah one of SAADA’s Archival Creators fellows , Gaiutra Bahadur, has been doing archival work on Guyanese indentured laborers in the U.S.:

01:36:04 Jayasri Hart: I recommend Zoom H4n Pro. They now have and H6n

01:36:07 Simi (she/ella/amor): One note, the ambient noise matters. Try to get to a quiet place away from the hum of a fridge or drone of traffic. A cushiony place. A closet with clothes.

01:36:09 Sara A.: Do you have suggestions for making subjects comfortable with video?

01:36:35 Elsa (she/her/ella) Ramos: can you please talk about the benefits of audio only or video interviews?

01:36:42 Sara A.: Sometimes cameras can feel obtrusive — but it’s a great medium to collect stories

01:37:00 Simi (she/ella/amor): * to drown out external noise! Rugs. Blanket over head, etc.

01:37:12 Shalin Mody: @Preeti - ah, yes I've been thinking about StoryWorth. My sister and I started a set of questions several years ago for my parents just before my father unexpectedly passed - we used a small book "Hard Questions For Adult Children and Their Aging Parents" by Susan Piver...mostly to understand their wishes in their Winter of life but also covers a top 10 questions in an acute situation. That came in handy when my father fell ill.

01:38:17 Pam Mann: Can edit recordings with Audacity or other software after to remove ambient noise and improve sound recordings

01:39:48 Ashley May: this has been so helpful. I have to run. I look forward to the replay to hear the conversation on metadata. take care

01:40:50 Egan Davson: I like that...meta data about an

01:41:03 Tara Maharjan: I forgot to mention before but with photos, if you are going to write on the back of the photo, use a #2 pencil and write discretely in a corner

01:41:21 Amber Abbas (she/her): Yes! I oral history interviews, I always tag the recording with “This is XX, here interviewing YY in PLACE, on DATE”

01:42:10 Neel Agrawal: For metadata, you may want to capture the date, location, people, brief description, and theme

01:42:33 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): @Neel - what do you mean by theme?

01:42:55 Amber Abbas (she/her): @Sara One thing that can help with video is placing the camera off to the side, so the narrator isn’t staring directly into it.

01:43:09 Nicolette Khan (she/her): I know people were talking about embedded metadata for digital files earlier - some file formats make that easier than others - but as Ayshea mentioned, having the metadata directly associated with the object is better than having it in a spreadsheet!

01:43:12 Amber Abbas (she/her): Video is nice because it catches mannerisms, as Nicolette mentioned earlier

01:43:18 Suma: Thank you so much everyone!

01:43:19 Fazia Rizvi (she/her): Thank you!!

01:43:26 excellent work Samip

01:43:36 Thank you ALL

01:43:38 Egan Davson: wow this was great...

01:43:41 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): Thank you all panelists and SAADA for this - so so helpful and inspiring!

01:43:51 Elsa (she/her/ella) Ramos: Question: What are some themes that you can curate a collection around?

01:43:56 Michelle: theme probably means what's happening, like vacation photos or holiday gatherings

01:44:04 Egan Davson: will the recording be made available?

01:44:06 Michelle: famiy reunion

01:44:07 Neel Agrawal: @Sherry - examples of theme could be “Family Vacation” or “Friends” or “Music Concerts”. Some way of organizing your items

01:44:09 Sara A.: @Amber that’s a good tip, thank you so much for the help — your words were very motivating.

01:44:10 Elsa (she/her/ella) Ramos: specifically within your own family?

01:44:13 Preeti Mathur: Thank you, it is motivating me to get back to all the photographs I have sitting in boxes.

01:44:16 Sara A.: Thanks to all the speakers

01:44:16 Stephanos Stephanides: thank you very much for interesting dialogue and addressing important issues

01:44:17 Sherry Ezhuthachan (she/her): Got it - thank you @Neel!

01:44:18 Zuha Khan: Thank you! Really appreciate all of this

01:44:23 Prakashini Kharod: Thank you so much - this was an informative session! We look forward to the other resources and will certainly add SAADA to the organization we support!

01:44:26 Jayasri Hart: Generational details can be used to construct a family tree. Specially Indian languages have intricate relationship terminology. I know caste has caused problems, but for me caste identity in marriages has been very interesting in my family.

01:44:35 Elsa (she/her/ella) Ramos: thank you everyone! amazing panel!

01:44:36 Michelle: SAADA thanks for organizing this event

01:44:38 Shikha Bhatnagar: This was wonderful - thank you!

01:44:46 Ayshea Khan: here are examples of themes from SAADA:

01:44:54 Pam Mann: make sure to link information with image file by including the file name in the metadata record so you know the information is associated with a particular object tor photo

01:44:56 Shona Sen (she/her): Thank you for this perfectly timed and very helpful webinar!

01:45:02 anu: Thank you to the panelists and SAADA for a wonderful event!

01:45:03 Simi (she/ella/amor): This has been wonderful. Thank you all for your insights and willingness to help!

01:45:04 Shalin Mody: This was indeed great. Looking forward to the notes, links, etc. This is why I support SAADA :-) <3

01:45:04 Sapana Sakya (she/her): Thank you all, learned so much!

01:45:18 Elsa (she/her/ella) Ramos: please share recording 💜

01:45:24 Pam Mann: Thank you all

01:45:26 Omar Tiwana: Thanks so much, Samip, and All Panelists — Amber, Ayesha, Neel, Nicolette, Tara — for this very informative session for non-archivist newbies such as myself! Looking forward to getting the list of resources that you have promised to send to us. Particularly how to download and store videos and compress them, including audio interviews, in this age of overload. :)

01:45:26 Sraavya Chintalapati: Thank you so much!

01:45:33 Ayshea Khan:, please reach out if you have further questions! Thank you all for joining us on a Sunday

01:45:41 Puja Ghosh: Thank you very much for all the information SAADA!

01:45:50 happie datt: I learned a lot about how to handle the material and the oral history examples by Amber will prove be useful and the tech knowledge Neel shared. Thank you

01:45:53 Ashima (she/her): Thank you everyone! I'm inspired!

01:45:54 Pradnya Haldipur: Thank you all so much!!

01:45:54 Sara A.: Do you have suggestions for archiving in terms of family members who have already passed

01:45:56 Jayasri Hart: Thank you SAADA, Samip and Panelists. One of the best hours I've spent.

01:45:56 Lakshmi Srinivas: Thank you!

01:45:58 Amber Abbas (she/her): Thanks Maryam!!

01:45:59 Sara A.: Maybe for next session :)

01:46:01 Sara A.: Thank you

01:46:03 Tara Maharjan: I'm at if people have questions.

01:46:05 Anjli Shah (she/her): This was awesome! Thank you!

01:46:08 Aliya Khan: Thank you! There are so many ways we have been told that our stories don't matter, and being able to claim their value in ourselves and our families is so important to pushing back and preserving our experiences.

01:46:14 Nicolette Khan (she/her): Amber said in an earlier conversation that "keeping is an act of intervention" <3

01:46:16 Alasea Jackson: Very helpful and insightful….Thank you so much.

01:46:19 Amber Abbas (she/her): @Aliya YESSSSSSS

01:46:25 Swati Khurana: Thank you, this was a great program, and I’m looking forward to the resources and new projects!

01:46:29 Ravi: Thank you!

01:46:30 Sending great respect for what you all do!

01:46:31 Egan Davson: yes, thank you! recording pls

01:46:32 Manali Sheth: Thank you so much. This was super helpful!!

01:46:35 angelina: thank you so much!

01:46:36 Vishal Makhijani: Thanks y’all!! Very grateful for this event

01:46:38 simisinghjuneja: thanks

01:46:38 S Mitra Kalita: THANK YOU!

01:46:43 Himanee Gupta-Carlson: Many thanks!


Ayshea Khan serves on SAADA’s Board of Directors and is the Asian American Community Archivist for the Austin History Center, where she works to document, preserve, and provide access to the history of Asian American communities in Austin.

Neel Agrawal is a digital archivist, musician, organizer, and advocate. Based in Los Angeles, Neel manages the South Asia Open Archives (SAOA), administered by Center for Research Libraries.

Nicolette Khan is an archivist with NPR’s Research, Archives & Data Strategy (RAD) team, where she works with colleagues in the News, Programming, and Digital Media divisions to support the NPR story lifecycle from conception to preservation.

Tara Maharjan is the Processing Archivist at Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University, and previously worked as a Cataloger at the Internet Archive and a cookbook librarian for America’s Test Kitchen.

Dr. Amber Abbas is the President of SAADA’s Board of Directors and an Associate Professor of History at St. Josephs’ University in Philadelphia, where she teaches courses on world history, South Asia, South Asian America, and oral history methodology. She has worked in archives and conducted oral histories in the United States, England, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.