Friday, November 18, 2005

Photo ID

Aren't these great old photos? Isn't it wonderful that these images were captured for posterity, so all of us descendants could look upon the faces of our ancestors. Even if we did not get to meet them, we could at least see what they looked like, see if maybe we resemble them a little bit. They went to the trouble to get all dressed up and posed for these pictures. The pictures were passed down from generation to generation, everyone cherishing the images of past family. Now WE have those pictures, wow, these are some great looking folks!

So who are they? I don't know, I thought they were your folks. No, they came from your mom's house. Wait a minute, just who are these people in these photos who we found carefully preserved, packed away in boxes in the hall closet?

These photos and many, many more like them were discovered when going through and cleaning out belongings of Buddy's parents after their passing. There are no names or dates on the back of the photos. We have asked all remaining family members, but no one recognizes them. At the time we were sorting through all the stuff at the old home place of Buddy's family, my mother was still here, living next door. We told her of all the pictures which were unidentified. She promptly pulled out all of her pictures and organized them into albums with names and dates by each picture. This was an enormous feat that took her quite some time to complete, but an invaluable one to all of us left behind.

What to do with all these old unidentified pictures? Throw them away? Give/sell them to Cracker Barrel for their d├ęcor? Claim them as kin and make up neat stories about them?

We all have boxes of photos at home. We know who they are and when they were taken, but do our kids? Our grandkids? It is time to get out all those old pictures and label them before it is too late! Family stories are important to record, but "a picture is worth a 1000 words."


Motherkitty said...

This is a job for "If Walls Could Talk," a show on HGTV. People buy old houses and find stuff either in the attic, inside walls, in closets, in suitcases or chests, and have no idea about who the people are. It's a real mystery. They show what they've found on TV and maybe someone will recognize the nameless faces in the pictures.

Point taken about identifying all those old photos for posterity. I have been doing it for a while now because I have been doing genealogy for the family and writing the family tree. Now, I'm sorting photos by family. What a job. Even my children wouldn't know who these folks are.

Another chore that we should be responsible for is interviewing parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and old friends, and writing down their stories. If we don't, the stories die. Period. The end. No recouping what is lost.

Alice said...

You do have the knack of bringing up my favourite 'soapbox subjects', Susan. My husband was an only child and after his parents died we collected a big box of photos just like the one you posted. Mostly studios portraits, perfect condition, many would be around 100 years old - AND ALL NAMELESS. Our children are the only descendents of that branch of two families and these photos would have been a wonderful addition to a family history. I looked through the photos one night a couple of years ago and felt just so very sad that these treasures would remain unidentified, and then I got so, so angry. I thought of all the time we had spent with his parents and they had never shown us any of these photos. If they had, we could have written down who they were and where they fitted in the family, etc.

As I've said time and again, family histories are so very important - not just extraordinary events, but the everyday, ordinary things that happen and the way people live. Everybody's story is interesting to someone - if not at the moment, then it will be in years to come. Write it down NOW!

Finn said...

An excellent point to bring up Susan...good for you for saying something. It is a gift without price for photos to bear the names, places and date of what and whom they are.

As Alice said it's such a gift to the decendents if we can look back at them and know who they were. Such a simple act to write on the back..even in pencil, if necessary.

doubleknot said...

Thank you susan for your comment on not feeling the spirit of the holidays - I am sure there are many out there who find it hard but knowing someone else does makes it easier.
And thanks for the post on pictures. My mother is an avid picture collector and puts events in little albums with names and dates. When she passes then us kids will have to sort out who gets what.
I have an album for my daughter, one for myself of things I do, and an album of the family - well you get the idea. I even started one for my room mate - though he has the living room wall covered with his kids and grandkids pictures I thought one day he would like an album of them growing up.
I have been neglecting them this past year because of health issues but you have inspired me to get going again with the albums. And yes I try to put names and dates on the pictures and if I can make them into a story.

abe/happy said...

your post reminds me of a post on my blog of a visit to Nells Antique shop in town, just recently, I also stumbled upon old portrait pictures and ended up going back to buy the album of photos that no-one wanted. I love them as I have no clue who they are but the pictures are great to look at.I will post them on my blog one day but there are so many.