Looking for the best scanners for genealogy research?

High-end scanners costing thousands, found at libraries and archives, of course produce amazing images. Most multi-function home printers include scanners that produce good quality. If you need to travel what scanner should you buy, especially for places where you’ll have one chance to capture images vital to your family history research?

Let’s take a look at scanners to avoid, desktop scanners, and portable scanners for genealogy research.

Scanners to Avoid

I get the willies seeing handheld scanners or roller-feed scanners touted as portable solutions. These are not scanners for genealogy research in my professional archivist’s opinion. These scanners cause frictional damage to (often fragile) originals. And the digital images produced, often stitched together by software, are mostly of mediocre quality for genealogy research purposes.

Portable Scanners for Genealogy Research

Scanners for Genealogy ResearchI’ve been recommending lightweight, very portable, flatbed scanners for genealogy research for ten years now. As of 2020, I use the portable Epson Perfection V19 Color Photo & Document Scanner. It features these important attributes:

  • Portability at 3.75 pounds
  • Large 8×10 scanning bed
  • 4800 x 4800 ppi (pixels per inch), higher than handheld scanners
  • Ability to scan to the cloud or Facebook in addition to computer
  • Inexpensive at about $70 (half the cost of flatbed FlipPal)
  • Powered via your laptop via USB
  • Removable lid

I’m impressed with the quality it produces and it has held up under many trips at this point. Compared to the popular handheld, it’s really inexpensive, has a scanning bed of 8×10 instead of 4×6, and produces excellent scans quickly with minimal image manipulation. For about $90, the next model up,  Epson Perfection V39 Color Photo & Document Scanner offers a scan-to-cloud feature, auto-crops multiple images scanned at once, and weighs about a half-pound less.

Keep in mind that technology progresses quickly. If being portable is important to you, you’ll probably be trading up every few years for newer portable models with more features for about the same cost.

Please note: you may not be able to take a portable scanner with you into research rooms in archives. Complex copyright and licensing agreements govern scanning of primary course. Archivists are not blocking access to users, but abiding by deeds of gift and copyright law.

Desktop Scanners for Genealogy Research

Have a big scanning project at home with different kinds of media? Try the Epson Perfection V600 Color Photo, Image, Film, Negative & Document Scanner.

  • scanners for genealogy research6400 x 9600 ppi for enlargements up to 17″ x 22″
  • Built-in Transparency Unit to scan slides and negatives as well as photos
  • DIGITAL ICE technology removes appearance of tears and creases in images
  • Optical character recognition using ABBYY FineReader Sprint Plus OCR, an industry leader
  • Weighs 9.0 lb, Dimensions: 11″ x 19″ x 4.6″

Scanning and Organizing Family Photos

Need help creating a workflow to scan and organize your family photos? Try my ebook, Cataloging Digital Family Photographs. Once your new scanner arrives, this genealogy ebook will help you scan, caption, and organize your digital family photos once and for all.

Scanners for Genealogy ResearchPortable Scanners for Genealogy