1. Saving Those Memories, Before it’s Too Late

Walk into nearly any antique shop and you’ll find a box of old photographs. Mostly, they’ll be “instant ancestors”, photos of people from the past. The mix will include cabinet cards with elegant Victorian men, women and children in stiff poses, dark tintypes on metal backs, deckle edged photos from the 1940’s and 50’s, old Polaroid prints and other assorted snapshots. All these are precious family memories that no one wants, because no one knows who they are.

When a family member passes on, all those memories are lost and when things from their home are sorted out, there’ll be a pile of photos that the family will look through. Here’s mom as a baby, but who’s that holding her? Hmm, might be uncle Bill. Look at that neat house, I wonder if anyone knows where it is? I’ve seen this and similar scenes repeated again and again and it drives me nuts!
Not everyone is fascinated with family history, but there’s usually at least one person in each generation that finds it more precious than gold.

With another holiday season approaching, I felt it was high time to try my luck at getting everyone to take a bit of time, take out the family pictures and visit the older members of the family. Go through the photos with a tape recorder, digital recorder, camcorder or even just a note pad and find out not only who the people are, but the stories behind them. Many times, much more than the identities come out, often some great stories and anecdotes that are your families “precious moments”. Future generations will thank you!

If you are writing on the backs of the photos, I’d recommend doing so on a hard surface (glass or Formica counter), so the printing doesn’t indent and show through on the images. Since most pens have ink that fades over time, a pencil is really best for this.

I’ll be writing about preserving and digitizing the photos in future articles, but for now, don’t put this off! Life is uncertain, wait… and your photos too, may be just more old photos in a junk shop.

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