On a recent trip I found myself in a small antique shop, sorting through a huge box of old family photos. I had no hopes of finding pictures of MY family, but I did want to take home a few pictures I could return to their rightful owners.
Unfortunately, almost all the photos were without identifying inscriptions or studio markings. However, I did manage to leave with four, all inscribed on their backs with at least enough information to guide me to a descendant.
When I arrived back home, I posted notices about the four photos on the appropriate surname forums at GenForum ; next I sent notices to the four surname mailing lists I found at RootsWeb . Within a few hours, three of the photos had been claimed. I’m sending the original images to the first people who asked for them, but I also scanned both high- and low-resolution (300 and 72 dots per inch, respectively) copies for anyone who wants one.
Doesn’t it feel great to know family photos are making their way back to the fold? I only wish every photo in that box had identifying information, as I hate seeing family treasures lost to time.
The unidentified photo that bothered me the most was an 11×17-inch print of about 40 people all lined up at what I think was a family reunion. When I picked up that picture, I had a fantasy that I’d turn the image over and every family member would be clearly labeled. But it wasn’t to be; the back was blank.
My grandmother Roselan Dearing always labeled photographs, and for that I’m grateful. I could always count on the back of Grandma’s pictures having a name, usually a year, and sometimes the person’s age. She may not have been 100 percent accurate, but her notes almost guarantee my generation will know which family members are in the photos. If you decide to start labeling your family photos, be sure to use either a soft lead pencil or an archival photo-labeling pen, and write gently.
Want to find your own family photos online? Use these resources:
• Family Photo Web Site
• Preserving Family Photos
• Ancient Faces
P.S. The family photos I found are Clymer, Springer, Hause, and Hurlburt (just in case one of them belongs to you!).