Family Reunions

By Maureen A. Taylor

It’s that time again: The every-other-year gathering of the Miller clan in Vermont. It grew from a gathering of siblings on a family farm in New York state to a cluster of cousins more than 60 years later. My husband’s family is dedicated to keeping this tradition alive.

Summer is the usual time for family reunions. In my husband’s family we pose for photos in groups of families descended from the original siblings (all now deceased). Sitting or standing for family photographs is a time-honored part of a reunion experience.

The photo below, from the collection of the Library of Congress, shows the Pershing family posing in 1923. It’s a huge group of people, captured in a large panoramic image—these were quite popular in the early part of the 20th century. Today, panoramic images are usually found rolled up in a photo collection.

For a better look at the original image, try this link. If you own one of these and no one has marked an X over the head of your grandmother or grandfather, it may take hours to figure out who’s who.

A short cut to start determining identities is to look at the center of the front row. That’s usually where the oldest members of the family sit.

While our reunion features photo albums of every gathering, there’s a lot more we could do at the event. The Chart Chick, Janet Hovorka has Five Fabulous Family Reunion Ideas on her blog.

As I head off for our reunion I have a few questions for you:

  • Have you ever attended or participated in a reunion?
  • What’s the largest number of relatives in attendance? We usually have around 50 people with folks flying in from as far away as Australia!
  • What type of family history activities take place at your family gatherings? The Pershings had an Infantry band on hand to entertain attendees:

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album