Over the more than 23 years since I first started collecting and collating the stories and memories of the men of the 3rd Michigan Infantry, I've accumulated some 50 linear feet of paper: pension files, military service records, census records, etc. This primary source material serves as the basis for both my growing database as well as my biographical sketches of all the men, and of course for the history of the regiment as well.
Digitizing the entire research project is something I've thought about for years but only recently felt the technology and lowered cost allowed me to actually do it. However, growing concern about degradation of the materials -- paper doesn't last forever -- as well as security for the archives itself, led me to began a focused search for a digital solution and I found it in the Fujitsu Scansnap S1500M.
In November of 2010 I purchased the Scansnap S1500M, especially designed to work with the Mac. Unfortunately I've since forgotten where I first learned about this particular model but I remember researching it thoroughly online and eventually took the plunge, buying my unit on Amazon.
Since then, I have scanned in more than 5,000 pages of paper, and am barely a little more than half way through the biographies. The unit does require some attention -- you can't just load it with 50 or 60 pages and walk away. Even though it does occasionally jam or stop feeding, it always alerts you to any problem, and is quick to point out any overlapped document. It also scans in both sides (if you so choose) and generally works wonderfully, allowing me to scan documents in a variety of formats, including Word and Acrobat, and to switch back and forth with ease. (The software is intuitive and very easy to use.)
My goal is to complete the archiving process by the spring of 2011.