Vay and I enjoyed this beautiful spring day at the 250th NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade. Here are some of my pictures from the festivities...just click on the image to start the slideshow! It was such a great time!
"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Entries in photography (14)
After going through all of my old family pictures, I organized them by family and was left with a pile of unknown mystery pictures. These pictures have no labels or snippets of information. It was easy to put them into the back of my photo album and focus my time on scanning and attaching the known faces to a name. After working with the labeled pictures I had more information and clues to help me when examining the mystery pictures. These pictures have been passed down by many generations and my thoughtful ancestors added whatever information they had about the picture's location or their own personal relationship to the individual. ANY clues are a luck find, but it can be very frustrating when can't identify unknown faces! I'd love the opportunity to share a picture of someones ancestor with them!
5 mystery pictures...
Mystery Photo #1. "Santa Rosa"
On the back of this picture it simply says "Santa Rosa", what does that mean????? I know this is a Shaw Family portrait with my great great grandmother Ann, great grandmother Edith, and my grandmother Marjorie. A few of the others I am able to identify from other labeled Shaw pictures, but most are just guesses or completely unknown. The only clues in this picture are the ages of Ann and Marjorie, Ann died in 1939 and Marjorie was born in 1917. That tells me the picture was taken on or before 1939 and from the looks of Marjorie she is about 15-20? So I am guessing this picture was taken sometime between 1932-1939.
Mystery Photo #2. Woman and baby Tintype
This mystery may never be solved, I think it's likely that this could be one of the few, if not the only, picture of this woman. I believe this picture is a tintype and from what I've read the usage of Tintype photography spans the years of 1856-1900ish. I have a few daguerreotypes from the Franks family, maybe this is a Franks woman? Any suggestions on how to find out who this is?
Mystery Picture #3- Shaw Women
Again I know this is the Shaw Family and the 3 women in the front row: (from right) Marjorie, Edith, and Ann. No description or markings on the back! To me they look a LITTLE bit older than mystery picture #1, so maybe it was taken 1933-1939?
Mystery Picture #4. Co L 3rd Infantry , 1st Sgt. Lester D. May...?
This picture is from one of the first pages of an old black construction paper photo album. After looking through the album MANY times I have linked similar jewelry and settings with other labeled Shaw pictures, so I am lead to believe there are Shaw women in this album, but for most part I have NO IDEA who the individuals are. This album will soon have it's own post!
I was able to remove the picture from the paper (VERY VERY GENTLY, I don't recommend!) and realized there was writing on the back!
1st Sgt. Lester D. May...
Co L 3rd Inf. C.A.
Any ideas what year this picture might be from??
Mystery Picture #5. Postcard to my Great Grandmother Mary Nolen from Lula?
7 July 1908, Rochester, NY- "This is one Ray took of me at Palmers Glen. I will send you more as soon as.."
..."he gets them done. Hope you are feeling well these hot days. Ans soon. Yours, Lula."
I don't know who Lula is! I don't have any leads to Rochester or anyone named Lula...The date of the postcard and the usage of my great grandmothers maiden name give me some sort of time line as to when Mary married my great grandfather. I don't know when they married but Mary Nolen would have been about 20 when she got this postcard in 1908 and she had their first child abt 1914, so they were most likely married between July 1908-1914. But I'm still on the lookout for Lula and Ray....
The message here: don't let mystery pictures slip through the cracks! There are many different types of clues you can get from pictures that will help you identify pictures and create a time line of your ancestors life. I've never tried any face recognition software...should that be a next step??
Clues to look for in pictures: clothing, jewelry, furniture, backgrounds, location, labels, markings from the photo processor, photographer name/location, shape, size, paper type, and photography type...to list a few!
How have you identified pictures? Do you have unknown family pictures in your albums? Are they hanging on your wall? I'd love to hear your stories!
Don't: Write on the front of a picture
Example: Picture of my Shaw Ancestors
Sure labeling a picture this way makes it easier to identify people, but the integrity of the photo is somewhat compromised. Demonstrate your appreciation of their memories, only write on the back of the original picture. You can make a copy, write in the names, and save it with the original.
Don't: only write the first name, who is Aunt Ann?
This picture alone would be quite a mystery, no mention of whose Aunt this is or a maiden or married surname. Always include the last names, especially the maiden names! Sometimes finding a woman's maiden name can prove to be the most difficult task. You can never assume pictures will stay within a a direct family line, any facts you can include will help tell the story.
Do: Write your name when adding or modifying a label.
Do: Write the date
Do: use Acid Free/Archival Safe Ink
Do: write the location!
I WISH more of my family photographs had some indication of location. Back in the day the family would stick together and live in a relatively local spot, this is probably one of the reasons they didn't jot down the city name or street. With sites like whatwasthere.com and historypin.com you can upload images, mark their location on the a virtual map, and compare the old picture vs the google street view from today. If only we could go back in time and explain this in the late 1800's- wouldn't they be surprised!
Do: ask family members for help!
It's really important to take the time and read over whatever inscriptions you find on family pictures and documents. The smallest detail can be the key to unlocking the secrets of your family. If you have a grandparent or great aunt or uncle nearby you could ask them to take a look at your pictures. This is a time sensitive opportunity- take advantage while you can!
Have fun preserving your pictures!
I'm a crafter and I love decorating; when I saw the DIY ornaments using old family photo's from Sweet Paul Magazine I was inspired! A recent family tree project had been tabled and I already had pictures and labels perfect for this project. I will be using these as Christmas ornaments but I don't have a tree yet, check back for an update in a week with the finished tree. This project is not just for the holidays, keep reading for creative ways to use these family pictures in your everyday decor!
This is an easy, inexpensive project! Materials:
- Printed pictures of your family (any size/shape!)
- Hot glue gun & glue sticks
- Pipe cleaners
- Card stock (any color/weight)
- Glue Stick
I wouldn't recommend using original photo's for this project, all you need to do is scan your images and then have some way of getting them printed. The pictures I had readily available were 2x3 inches but I think using pictures of all different sizes and shapes would add a unique touch. When you've learned a lesson, before I started gluing anything I marked the back of each photo with a light up arrow so I wouldn't glue the pipe cleaner on upside down! Once the glue gun is fired up simply cross the pipe cleaner in half and twist the bottom JUST ENOUGH so it stays, try to keep the knot as small and flat as you can.
Just put a little glue on the pipe cleaner and stick it on the back. Believe it or not you could be done at this point! But I already had the labels printed up with names and dates so I hot glued a square of red card stock on the back covering the bottom of the pipe cleaner and used a glue stick to attach the label. Bonus! The hot glue and card stock gave the pictures weight and stability.
These pictures could be used in many ways:
- Stencil or apply a tree applique directly to your wall, put some nails on the branches and hang the pictures for a unique 3d family tree
- Get a shadow box frame and hang the pictures inside for a flexible decorative piece
- Buy a metal rod or any sort of contraption to hang the pictures in a minimalist way
Example- I have a metal shelving unit from IKEA used for pots and pans, I cleared some space and hung the pictures with the ornament hooks. I love how this looks!