So DH and I have been married for four years, and every year my MIL gives us more old pictures. When I say "more", I mean literally thousands of pictures at this point. Most are in albums, some are loose. And she's not just giving us the ones she has; she is taking every picture ever taken in the 60+ years of her life to Walgreens and making copies of them for us and for my SIL.
My problem is WTH to do with them all.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's very nice of her to do, and I genuinely appreciate the ones of DH when he was little and as he was growing up. But my MIL is not that close to most of her family (and therefore neither is DH), and the vast majority of these pictures are meaningless to us, because we have no idea who is in the photos. DH nor I have met or remember 90% of these people. I'm talking about hundreds of pictures from the '50s and '60s of her cousins' girlfriends and boyfriends and old friends and neighbors (and probably all their relatives too). None of them are labeled or say anything about who is in the pictures.
They're currently just stored in the dresser in our spare room (as in the albums are the only thing in that dresser. The entire dresser is FULL of nothing but pictures). I'm getting ready to redo that room, and I'd like to use the dresser for...something other than pictures of people we don't know.
I'm torn between getting rid of them or just boxing all of them up and storing them in the basement. DH doesn't care. I feel guilty on one hand about getting rid of them...but then it's kind of pointless to keep them, if they're just going to sit in the basement forever and I'll just have to figure out what to do with them in 20 years. WWYD?
Scan the ones you want to keep, then get rid of the hard copies. It's not like they are the only copies in existence. I have to say, our family did this and did it right - my aunts got together and collected all the old photos, had them scanned and put on a CD, and then gave copies to everyone along with a key that explained who was in each photo. I don't know all of the people, but the old pictures are priceless and it's really cool to have pics of great-great-great-grandparents, etc. It might make more sense for your MIL to find a service that will do it this way.
It sounds like MIL is alive and well. Get her to sit down with you and name people in photos before you do anything else. I have many photos of ancestors who will forever remain nameless because my mother and her family are gone and so is my dad's. Sort them out with her present and later toss the ones that don't tell a story or are duplicates. Do it by putting away in a back closet and quietly lose them.
My parents have TONS of pictures and my Mom was talking about tossing some out. I bought her a slide and photo scanner for Christmas and told her she's not allowed to throw anything away unless scanning it first. Old photos can pile up but they're really priceless - if not to you now then in the future, or to other family members in the future. I suggest scan them before tossing any of them.