398th Photo CD Tips

by Dave Jordan

In 2002, I created a Photo CD that I called the Lt. Edward C. Jordan Photo CD from my dad's WWII photos. When completed, I made three copies for the 398th Group Historian. One was placed in the 398th archives, one was sent to the 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia and the third to the Hertfordshire Archives. I've heard that 398th vets or their children or grandchildren are contemplating organizing their own WWII collections onto CDs. Therefore I thought it would be helpful to provide a few tips from my own experience.

Organization

The first thing I did was organize the photos into groups. For me, these were:

  1. Cadet Training (Pre-Flight, Primary Training, Basic Training, and Advanced Training)
  2. Rapid City Training
  3. Nuthampstead, and
  4. Back to the States

Once the photos were in order, I formed subcategories, such as Flights in Rapid City and Rapid City Crew Portraits. You will have your own categories, but I mention mine by way of ideas.

After creating categories and subcategories, I create a set of nested computer folders with the names of the various groupings and sub-groupings. This way I already had a logical place to put the planned scans of the photos. I also used numbers and letters as part of the name for the various folders so they would maintain an order. For example: 1. Cadets, 2. Rapid City, 2A. Practice Flying_March 1944, 2B. Hopkins' Crew Portraits, and so on. Eventually, each photo scan also used these numbers. For example, the first Rapid City portrait was named: 2B01. Robert Hopkins_Pilot.

Scanning the Photos

Information on scanning of the photos can be found in Photo Scanning Tips.

Companion Text

Don't forget it's important to have information about each picture on your photo CD. The way I did this was to make a Word Processor file called Picture Descriptions that I also put on my Photo CD. In my case, I wrote 17 pages of text for 83 pictures. I named the pictures in the text exactly the same as the file names of the pictures. Thus the description of the Rapid City portrait of Bob Hopkins had a title in the text called: 2B01. Robert Hopkins_Pilot, the same as the scan. This provided an easy link back to the actual picture.

I then wrote what I knew about each picture, who was in it, and where taken. Some entries were little more than the title, but others ran several paragraphs. If there was some context about a picture or group of pictures, I provided that also.

When I finally put the Picture Description file on the CD, I saved it in two ways, once as a .doc, but also as a .pdf document. Some argue that decades from now, it is more likely that a file saved as a .pdf will still open easily.

One of the hardest problem with the old 398th photos is determining: who's who and when and where they were taken. If you are the vet, this is a little easier. If you are the 2nd or 3rd generation from the vet, this is much harder. If you are lucky there are words on the back of the photo or maybe a stamp of where the print was made, that can at least let you know the town it might have been taken in. In my own case, it only took a couple of days to scan all the photos, but it took over 6 months to draft and collect information about all the picture descriptions.

Here's how I went about gathering information. First, I drafted text for each picture and who I thought was in each picture and when. I then either Xeroxed a picture or printed it out from my computer (generally as large as possible) and then I wrote on the page who I thought was in each picture. I then mailed a bunch to my mom to have her mark them up and send back. I then took her information and updated my Picture Description word processing file.

I then repeated this process by sending selected Xeroxes to some of my dad's fellow crew members. The process can take a while, given mailing delays, time for the vet to remember who was who and get back. It also helps to use a self addressed stamped envelope when making a request.

While I was anxious to complete the project, I was glad I spent the extra 6 months gathering information on who was who and where and when. Even now, I continue to find new information about my pictures and when I do, I update the Picture Description word processing file. Someday I will then reissue the May 2002 Lt. Edward C. Jordan Photo CD.

Other Items to Include in your 398th Photo CD

I also added a number of other files and scans to my 398th Photo CD. For example, I added a second word processing file that listed all of my dad's missions along with information about each such as where and the purpose. I also included scans of items other than photos. Included were scans of a Edinburgh playbill from his R&R, postcards sent home, portraits from air cadet training, and photos of the the trainers PT-19 and BT-13 from Air Cadet class books. I have since written a story about my dad during WWII, so when I update the CD I will add that also.

Where to Send

When you complete your 398th Photo CD, you should e-mail Geoff Rice, our 398th Photo Historian. He will provide instructions for postal mailing. The Photo CD will then become part of our 398th archives. The photo archives have many uses for us, including a source of photos for our web pages, a source of photos for relatives of other veterans on your photo CD seeking photos of their veteran, a source for FLAK NEWS, and an archive for generations many years in the future.