Anything You Write Is Better Than Writing Nothing

My husband's Uncle Walter died several weeks ago, at the ripe old age of ninety-six after an exemplary life. Walter had a rich spirit. He was a masterful story teller, and it's a shame that his stories were never written down. Or so we thought.

Earlier today I was looking through my computer files to find pictures of Walter for display at his upcoming Celebration Service. I found some wonderful old ones that will serve the purpose well. Besides those pictures, I found a folder of scanned images that I'd forgotten about. Several years ago Uncle Walter began writing about his early life in Ray, a mining town in the Territory of Arizona. He also wrote down some recollections of his father. He loaned the stories to me for scanning.

The whole collection spans fewer than twenty pages, but each one is precious. Our family genealogist met him once, but barely knew him. She was ecstatic when she received the collection, because they contain some valuable genealogical information as well as anecdotes of life nearly one hundred years ago.

This goes to prove once again, that it doesn't take more than a few paragraphs to thrill your family! His were chicken-scratch scrawls, but they are legible, and they are terrific.

Speaking of scrawls and scans, at the beginning of the new year, I switched to from Microsoft Word to OpenOffice, an open source office suite that is available for download at no cost. OpenOffice has a built-in utility for exporting documents as pdf files (think Adobe Acrobat Reader). I have discovered that I can compile a large collection of image files into a single pdf document rather easily. I open a new document and set the margins at zero all around, assure OO that I really do want to do this, and enter a couple of hard page breaks (hold down Ctrl while pressing Enter). Then I import existing documents, one per page, or scan new ones in. When I have them all in place, I export the collection as a pdf file.

You could do this with Word, but it is a bit more finicky about margin settings, and the pdf function isn't nearly as powerful. Another option would be to use the free, open source program PDF Creator. The ultimate solution is Adobe Acrobat Professional, but that costs almost as much as a new computer. I'll stick with OpenOffice!

This process of compiling scanned images into a single document allows you to keep handwritten documents intact in the original handwriting. Transcribing them is great, but if you have fewer than one hundred pages, it's nice to see them the way they were written.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

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