A Scanathon is an event the purpose of which is to preserve family photos by scanning them. On Sept. 30, Forest Park Baptist Church held what could be the world’s first Family Photo Scanathon. Interested participants brought family photos they wished to preserve and then were able to scan the photos. The participants received a CD on which the digital files of their scanned photos were copied to. The digital files were erased off the scanning computer, and the participants were able to take their disk to the drug store and print out the photos as they pleased.

There are three benefits to scanning family photographs, all of which can create a special kind of connection.

The first is the historic connection. I have a digital file that contains the image of my paternal great-great-great grandparents. He was born in 1822 and she was born in 1818. I was given the digital file at a family reunion. I do not know where the original photograph is. I can look into the faces of relatives who lived almost 200 years ago because someone cared enough to scan the original photograph and someone cared enough to share the digital file with me.

There is also the geographical connection. A cousin once entrusted me with copies of family death certificates. Neither she nor I knew how the people described in the documents were related to us. I was later scanning some old photographs and discovered notes on the back that clearly stated names and my relationship to the pictured people.  From this evidence I determined that my maternal great-great-grandparents came from the city of Pilsen in the present day Czech Republic. And yes, the Chicago neighborhood is named after this very same city.

Finally there is the personal connection. Sometimes a photo will make you think of a particular instance, conversation or experience you had with another person. I have a scanned photo of my long-dead grandfather. Every time I look at this photo, I think of the only joke he ever told me. He would say to me, “Michael?” and I would say to him “Yes, Grandpa?” And he would say “I have a friend with a racket.” To which I would ask, “Do you mean a tennis racket or a scam?” “That’s the joke” he said and then he gave his sandpaper laugh.

Historic, geographical and even personal connections can be discovered and reinforced by simply scanning and saving a photograph.

Forest Park Baptist Church holds games nights along with Scanathons. Call 708-366-5091 or email info@forestparkbaptist.com to find out more about Family Game Night at Forest Park Baptist Church or visit https://www.facebook.com/fpbaptistchurch.

Michael J. Thomas

Forest Park Baptist Church

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