How to Archive Your Memories on the Web

Everyone has a file, drawer, or steamer trunk full of photos and mementos. The more organized among us may have the pictures filed by date, but I imagine many of you are just like me. I open the package of newly developed photographs, send duplicates to a few people, applaud myself for doing so, and then file the others in a basket. When that basket is full, I suppose I'll have to find a bigger basket. 

Most moms tell me that photo-overload becomes less of a problem with each child - not so much because we get more organized but because we take fewer photos.

More time spent raising kids often means less time spent taking pictures, which means fewer photos to organize. 

But this is one of the many ways the Web has made our lives easier. A variety of free Web photo albums can help you organize and share your photos. 

These services run the gamut. Most of them offer similar features, but they vary in style, storage space, and privacy policies. Here are a few of the best: 

MSN.com The Photoalbums Community at MSN.com features customizable privacy options, as well as message boards, chat, calendars, and file cabinets. MSN offers free storage up to 30 MB (about 120 standard-size photos). 

Photopoint This Website provides free, unlimited storage, the ability to email photos and e-cards as well as more traditional postcards, and a variety of gifts adorned with the photo of your choice. Photopoint also offers contests, forums, and chats. And, if you dislike the standard upload process, Photopoint allows users to send photos via email. The system will change your file format to one that Photopoint recognizes.

PhotoIsland This site features wizards to help you arrange photos for specific events, and it allows you to arrange your photos and captions offline, so you can upload everything all at once. PhotoIsland offers 10MB of free, secure storage for your photographs. Send a personalized musical postcard, download software, and order personalized photo gifts. 

Photoworks Formerly Seattle Filmworks, this company will process any brand of film. While you're waiting for the prints to arrive in the mail, you can view your photos online. Photoworks will email you a private URL to a page that contains thumbnails of the entire roll. Then you can email the photos to friends or download them to your PC. When I tried this system, Photoworks sent me the URL  just days after I sent the film. Prices are a bit higher than traditional developing, but it saved me having to scan the photos. And Photoworks sent me a free roll of film with my prints. In the end, the process saved me money over local developing.

Zing Send free photo-greeting cards. Create slideshows and custom presentations. Put your photo on everything from stickers to cookies. Zing offers unlimited free storage and a simple upload process. 
The Web makes it easy. Once you've taken care of your photos, consider these other ideas to preserve your family heritage.  

Write your family's history. Interview family members, gather photos, and ask relatives if you can sift through old letters and mementos. Or track your genealogy on the web. Helm's Genealogy Toolbox  is a good place to start. 

Make and distribute a family cookbook. You might be surprised at the memories that family recipes might trigger. Use desktop publishing software or a word processing program to compile the recipes along with quotes and memories related to those traditional foods. Consider a special section for holiday foods, and the favorite foods of all family members. Give these family cookbooks away the next time you all share a meal.