Where Do We Find All That Old Stuff?

By Grace Dobush

Readers occasionally ask us if we have information on the photos or letters we show in our articles. Unfortunately, for the most part, we don’t. “Many of our old photos have come from antiques stores and flea markets,” says our editor, Allison Stacy. “We used to have a photo stylist go out and buy props for us—kind of like a mystery shopper.” So where do we get all the stuff we show in Family Tree Magazine?

Without a stylist these days, we have to get a little creative in finding props, and we aren’t too proud to scavenge. “I brought home copies of some documents and burned the edges of them on my patio one night for a photo shoot” for a story about burned courthouses, says our art director, Kathy DeZarn. “The next morning on my way to work I spotted a bunch of charred wood and broken bricks from a house fire just a few blocks from my home. It was just too good to pass up.”

Kathy got the Mason jars in the May 2008 History Matters from her aunt’s basement, and “the boxes of stuff I inherited when my parents died has been the source for all sorts of letters, photos and stuff including one (I only found one) of the shoes my mom wore on her wedding day.”

Managing editor Diane Haddad’s grandmother’s purse and burgundy dress have been in photo shoots for the magazine, as have various family pictures. My own parents happen to have a house full of antiques and ephemera, which comes in very handy! That’s a picture from their living room below. (The telephone, directory and telegraph key in the “Getting the Message” article in the January 2009 issue pictured above came from them.)