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Scanning many letters to get a searchable digital archive

July 24, 2017

Tags: ScanSnap iX500, Scanner Pro, scanning letters

Joella Werlin and Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner (via Pat McNees)
When Joella Werlin used a small wireless scanner to scan a multitude of letters for a major project, she praised it to a group of personal historians, one of whom asked if it did two-sided scanning. With her permission and Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner's, I post here what both of them wrote:

Joella writes: Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner convinced me to buy ScanSnap iX500 (Fujitsu's wireless desktop scanner). To answer your question, yes it scans a two-sided doc in a flash! When it creates files, it eliminates blank pages. Settings enable you to control how you set up files. At Elisabeth’s suggestion, I also have hired a student helper for the major project I am working on. My U. Washington student assistant is scanning individual letters into separate files. Even though he could feed many letters through at once, since some are 3 pages long, others 2 or only 1, I want to be able to archive the letters individually. These letters, by the way, are an odd size… small British format, roughly 6” x 81/4”. However, you do need to be careful about the settings you want. We scanned about 50 letters before realizing that we needed to mark “OCR” (optical character recognition) in the settings in order to be able to do a word search for an article I am writing to go with the project.

The ScanSnap is a superb piece of computer technology! However, there is a very inexpensive alternative ($6.00) for your iphone, an Ap called Scanner Pro, which also does an amazing job of scanning, with OCR, and enables you to send your scans wirelessly to your computer through the cloud or Dropbox. When I was working on my project during a vacation, I scanned documents and letters on my iPhone and sent them to my laptop. The process is slower, and creating the filing system is more clumsy. But, had Elisabeth not told me about the ScanSnap, I probably would have done my entire project by this method. However, I am making much much faster progress with the ScanSnap."

Elisabeth had reported earlier:
"Last summer, as I was preparing to move back to Europe after 30 years of wonderful life and lots of work in New York City, I embarked on scanning my entire work archive (24 large archive boxes with correspondence, transcripts, budget outlines, project reports etc). I bought the Scansnap iX500 (it now also comes wireless) and scanned my entire work archive, plus several boxes of photographs. It worked beautifully. The machine scans up to 30 pages per minute and detects automatically where to scan both sides. It also worked fine with newspaper clips and even with the thin paper that we used for airmail decades ago.

"I then shredded and recycled the paper (just kept a few precious handwritten documents). I am so pleased to now have a searchable digital archive at the tip of my fingers rather than in a dusty storage. To reduce the risk of loss of the precious content, now all digitized, I created a backup in the cloud and one on an external hard drive. 24 moving boxes less to ship to Europe - it is fantastic. This scanner was one of the best investments I ever did - and I am sure I will continue using it."

Dave B. asked: Will the scanner you used also handle multi-page documents bound together....does it have a flat-bed capability as well as feeder? I have a project to scan 125 magazines with about 48 pages per magazine.
Elisabeth responded: It is NOT a flat bed scanner, so it won't be a good tool to scan books or magazines. But it is fabulous to digitize individual pieces of paper stacked on top of each other: documents, papers, photographs. Have a look at the product website: