ST. ANSGAR | For Brenda Esdohr, preserving the past has become something to be passionate about.

Esdohr started to become interested in genealogy, with her mother, over a year ago. She has continued trying to map her family’s history and stories through the use of Phostorian, an online photo historian site she discovered through Facebook. Not only that, but Esdohr has turned her passion into a part-time job, becoming a Phostorian representative and offering to help others share and document family stories.

“The goal of Phostorian is to preserve every photo and every story,” Esdohr said. “When I saw the ad, I thought, what a fantastic idea.”

A phostorian representative goes into the homes of individuals looking to preserve their old family photos. Using her own scanning equipment, Esdohr will scan and load family photos, which are often times being kept in old shoe boxes, into files that can be shared with other family members.

“When working with seniors, they have the photos, but might not be good with technology or might not have the technology at all,” Esdohr said. “So the question is how do we get the amazing photos digitized so the whole family can share them? Generally, we go a person’s house, because we don’t want them to put their precious photos in the mail. There is some prep they need to do before I arrive, but I can scan up to 3,000 photos in an hour with this equipment.”

To prepare for an appointment, a person needs to gather their old photos, organizing them by person or event. If the photos are in an album, Esdohr comes prepared with a special scanner that allows the photos to be scanned in the album. In addition, Phostorian provided Esdohr with several different sizes of scanners which allow her to scan even large photographs.

“We can also do 3-D images of metals or broaches,” Esdohr said. “For example, say there is one broach of grandma’s but there are four grandchildren. Well if one gets the real thing, the others would still have the 3-D rendition for a shadow box. From a distance, you cannot tell the difference and each of the grandchildren would get to share in that memory.”

In addition to the scanning, Phostorian has an online presence, allowing all of the photos to not only be contained on thumb drives but on the Phostorian website. There, families can share photos and add to one another’s albums, as well as fill in information about the date, place and event, despite how far apart they might live. This allows families to share that close connection and building of family history even across great distances Esdohr said.

“In addition to teaching clients how to create their own albums, we also teach them how they can invite others in their family to share photos with them, and how to use other features of the account to create a full story,” Esdohr. “The comments move with the photos whenever someone moves them from one album to another.”

“Between the scrapbooking I love to do, the family history I love to collect and the ancestry research and recording I love to do, this was the perfect marriage for me,” said Esdohr of her involvement with Phostorian. “I’m just getting started with this, in time I hope to start setting up video interviews for people as well. They are invaluable for generations to come, to be able to hear and see their ancestor telling the stories of their lives.”


Regional Editor

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