Friday, April 19, 2019

Using Vivid-Pix to Improve Document Legibility

We should all be grateful to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for its efforts to microfilm all of the available US federal census documents from1790 to 1940. Over the years, the microfilm images have been digitized, indexed, and placed online, particularly by,,,, and others. These records are the basic essential tools for locating and documenting our American ancestors.

Unfortunately, the quality of the microfilm images are not always great. Lighting problems made portions of a document unreadable, while light handwriting or faded ink make all or part of a document illegible. The entities who digitized the microfilm also uses high-speed scanners and software which could not correct or improve the microfilm images. In some cases, the resulting digital image was worse than the microfilmed image.

I've been using the Vivid-Pix RESTORE software for several months with a great deal of success. Not only have I made old photos better, I've also used the software on digital images of documents and newspaper content to make them more readable.

Here is an example of an 1880 US federal census agricultural census schedule containing information about my great-grandfather's farm. The image below was downloaded from one of the providers.

Digitized image of microfilmed1880 US federal census agricultural schedule.
(Click to enlarge.)

The image below was made better by using Vivid-Pix RESTORE and adjusting the lightness and contrast until more of the image could be read.

Improved digital image of microfilmed 1880 US federal census agricultural schedule
after using Vivid-Pix RESTORE.
(Click to enlarge.)

You can enjoy a free trial as a perk of our sponsor, Vivid-Pix. Visit and click on the Free Trial button for the Windows or Mac version of the software. Download your free trial copy. Try it on your most faded photographs, the most difficult documents, on newspaper clippings, and on downloaded images. Enjoy the free trial on us!

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