Sunday, December 05, 2010

I Love to Take A Photograph

Whatever your holiday of meaning is this month, may I make a suggestion? You have relatives around; bring out the photos and make sure every one is tagged with names, year, location, whatever will help someone down the road figure it out. You think they're all done? I thought all of ours were done and I just found a woeful little boy and two youngish women in a black-and-white picture, way down deep in a file. The clothes would indicate it was taken in the twenties. My mother swears it's not a relative of hers and Consort's family no longer has someone from that time to claim that family member. I'm starting to look as woeful as that little boy, imagining them as familial orphans, lost to time and my own inability to cross-reference these three people.

Anyway, avoid this sensation if possible. Make sure all your pictures are labeled.


Blogger OHN said...

YES! I have several albums passed down and I have no idea who so many of the people are.

My great-grandfather thought that this newfangled thing called photography was the greatest thing since sliced bread (well actually sliced bread came many years later)and he would pay the traveling man with the mysterious equipment to stop by every time he was in the area.

I have some awesome photos of my grandfather as a tot (since I am 54, this gives you an idea of how long ago this was), but mixed in the group are photos of people I can only assume are other relatives.

Oh how I wish my grandparents had lived long enough for me to grow up and finally realize how important it was to pick their brains!

6:39 AM  
Blogger Char said...

i have some shots like that from the 20's - my mother thought they were her father's aunts but she never remembered their names. i wonder about these photographs that i see at flea markets too.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

I have a few photos of the same Dutch family. I have NO IDEA who they are. My dad never mentioned them, so they must be from photos he got from his father.

In one picture they look all polished and happy, in another they look almost starving, and then in the latest one they look clean, neat and worn-out.

WWII, I'm thinking. I'm hanging on to them, but have promised each face that I will not put silly hats on them and add them to any collages I may or may not make some day.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Gail said...

Hi Quinn,

You have touched on a project I have been working on for a year. I am condensing 40 photo albums into just a few, labeling and scanning all the pics. I will eventually reduce them into one album for my son as a through the years retrospective of our lives. It is a huge project but one that I feel is important as 40 photo albums is way too much. I am looking forward to gaining back my linen closet where they are all stored.

I am also organizing all my recipes which I have collected during 33 years of married life.

Two big jobs that I hope to finish someday!

BTW, I have read and enjoyed your book. You have an unique look on life. I am also enjoying your blog. Thanks for the many laughs.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Mine is even worse yet. I have three albums from the 1870's of albumen photographs of members of my paternal grandmother's family (she was born in 1903). I wish I had had the presence of mind to ask her before her death in 1995 who they were. I would love to know who the farmer was with the ice tongs in hand. Was it my great-great grandfather, Alonzo? I will never know.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous NellieV said...

You might want to try looking at the Federal Census information on a site like or a paid site such as,, or (The paid sites often have free trials.)

Census records before 1850 only list the name of the Head of Household, but from 1850 on, they showed the names of everyone living in the residence and their relationships to the Head. Depending on the census year, also listed would be the age of the resident, marital status, place of birth and of his/her parents' births, number of children a woman bore (and how many were still living), whether the resident could speak/read/write English, his/her occupation, etc.

Those censuses can be a gold mine of information! For example, I have a photo of my grandfather as a baby, sitting on his mother's lap and surrounded by other children...I was able to figure out which child was which by matching them to the names in the 1910 Philadelphia census.

Good luck!

12:23 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I also like to take pictures, specially for country sides.

10:07 PM  

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