For the last 4 years I’ve been tackling my parents lifetime photo collection which includes all the photos they have inherited from their forebears. It’s required a good deal of effort and persistence. If you intend to take on such a challenge you’ll need to be prepared for the long haul.
In order to find out what/who the photos are of and when they were taken I’ve had a discussion with my mother about most of them. Inevitably, she remembers less about some of the older ones (taken, say, 70 or 80 years ago) than some of the newer ones; and she can’t provide any light at all on some of those she inherited from her parents or from my father’s side of the family. In those cases, I’ve used every clue I can find (type and size of print, numbers stamped on the back, writing on the back, similarity of scene, etc.) to identify related photos and deduce some information about their progeny. I’ve recorded a few of the conversations we’ve had about the photos; and deciding how to keep those recordings is one of the remaining tasks I have to do. However, apart from that and putting a few remaining photos in albums, the job is just about finished. All 7000 or so photos have been indexed, scanned, and the file titles populated with reference number, contents and dates; and then the physical photos have been put into one of about 19 slip-in albums.
I’ve done similar jobs on my own pre-marriage collection, on my wife’s family collection, and on our own family collection. That is where the insights I’ve recorded earlier in this topic have come from. Now it remains for me to tie up loose ends and to decide whether to collect everything I’ve learned into a single article or not.