ingleside – After Hurricane Harvey hit the Coastal Bend, many communities lost not only their homes but their history as well. Local resident Jason Rosalez has dedicated his time to preserve that lost history by digitally archiving high school annuals from the surrounding communities for free.
“The reason I started this was, you know, after Hurricane Harvey we lost so much,” said Rosalez. “You know, the trees falling over, and it was just a disaster. But then you also lost history, a lot of history big time.
“I said you know what, I’m gonna start looking into how I can archive this stuff.”
Rosalez said he chose annuals to digitally archive because he believes they are like time capsules.
“I find annuals to be time capsules that record moments of time during a given academic year,” Rosalez said.
Additionally, another reason why he started this project was because some people were not able to afford yearbooks and personal annuals were lost throughout the years as well as damaged or destroyed from natural disasters.
Rosalez has completed scanning yearbooks from Ingleside and is currently working to finish scanning annuals from Aransas Pass.
Rosalez opened up a Facebook group called “Ingleside Yearbooks” on Sept. 2, 2018.
“I didn’t think it was going to catch on at all,” said Rosalez. “People just look at it, ‘Yeah, that’s cool’, you know, but we ended getting up to 1,500 users and started getting a lot of positive feedback.”
In order to find and scan the yearbooks, Rosalez would post a spreadsheet on the page letting the group know which ones were still needed. From local residents to out-of-towners, everyone helped as much as they could.
Rosalez would pick up the books from around the community as well having the annuals be mailed out to him.
“It was like Christmas going to the mailbox,” Rosalez said.
Additionally, he reached out to Ingleside Superintendent Troy Mircovich to help out in the search.
After finishing and posting Ingleside’s yearbooks, Rosalez created another Facebook called “Aransas Pass Yearbooks” in February.
One person who has been instrumental in getting Aransas Pass annuals is Terri Cheaney.
Additionally, another person who has supported Rosalez throughout both projects is Christy Bryant Maley Hopkins.
“Sometimes I got kind of overwhelmed and I told her, ‘Hey, I’m overwhelmed.’ She would be like, ‘No take a break, you’re not getting paid for this, take a break,’” said Rosalez.
Rosalez uses his personal scanner, an Opticbook 4800 to get the job done. He uses a third party software called Vuescan to scan the annuals digitally.
“Much of the software that comes packaged with scanners isn’t as good,” Rosalez said. “The main thing I like about it though is the deskew feature which straightens the scanned pages. Sometimes pictures are tilted and the deskew option corrects this.”
Before handling the books to scan, he put on gloves to protect the annuals from natural oils from the skin. From there, he carefully places the page and does a preview scan before proceeding.
Then, Rosalez realigns and scans the page at 600 DPI (dots per inch) resolution. He then checks the scan for alignment and wording before moving onto the next page.
After the process is finished, Rosalez uploads the scans onto his website http://www.americanannuals.com/.
Typically, it takes him two to four hours to scan an annual, depending on the size of the book.
All for free
Rosalez has done both projects out of his own pockets for free.
“I don’t ask for donations. I don’t ask for fees or anything. I don’t have any ads on my website, nothing to advertise,” Rosalez said.
“I just kept wanting to spit out these books. I was very passionate about it.”
One person who has invested in the project and generously donated twice is Ingleside resident Frank Llamas.
With donations, Rosalez is able to cut down costs for shipping supplies to return annuals to their owners.
Along with voluntarily doing the projects, Rosalez is a single father of three children who also works full time.
“I look forward to coming home from work and getting after it,” said Rosalez. “And you know doing some scanning and then taking a break and hanging out with the kids watching a movie.
“And since it’s summer, they stay up late and I’m up scanning until about 11 or so. Hit the bed. Just do it again.”
Since starting both projects, Rosalez said there has been an outpouring of love from the community.
While dropping off a book at the post office in Aransas Pass, Rosalez began to chat with an older lady and showed her the pictures he had.
“She goes through them and she started crying and said, ‘That’s my daddy right there’,” said Rosalez.
The photo was of a football squad in 1928.
“It hit me and made me feel good, that you can see her dad at that age,” Rosalez said.
“And that just made my day. It made my week, actually.
“That made me feel like I’m doing what I need to be doing.”
Continuing the project
Rosalez said he is still looking for 13 Aransas Pass annuals. After he completes that project, he wants to do one on veterans in the Coastal Bend.
The suggestion was made by a member in the Aransas Pass Yearbook group. Rosalez then made another Facebook group page called “Coastal Bend Veterans.”
“I pulled some stuff out of the yearbooks from the ’40s where they honored the men and women that served in the military during World War II,” Rosalez said. “I also found some stuff through the Texas portal about Vietnam veterans and people are really liking it.”
While doing that project, Rosalez would like to move on to scanning annuals either from Taft or Rockport.
A future project he might look into is finding photos and yearbooks from segregated schools. Rosalez says he already has a class photo from a then Mexican department in 1933.
“In Aransas Pass, there’s a gentleman, Mr. Butler, and he was telling me about the segregated school that they had there in Aransas. I had no idea about it,” said Rosalez. “And he told me there was also about the Solomon Coles School in Corpus Christi, so that picked my brain.”