The montage of pictures above are a very small sample of hundreds of my family’s pictures that are without names. I have no idea who they are. They are my family’s orphans. Some are old family friends I am sure, but most are relatives. A few have a first name on the back but with no last name. It does me no good to have Edward written on the back. In my family we have about six Edwards, for each generation. To make it a little more interesting it may say Edward, on the back and on the front you may have as many as four people who could be Edward.
I had to face this problem a few years ago when my wife and I cleaned out her parents house. We found boxes of pictures and countless photo albums, with most of the pictures not identified. The range of pictures were from the 1880’s and up. We spent hours identifying the ones we could and getting them labeled. The others we took to every relative we could to see if they could get a few more of the unknowns identified. After a couple of years we got most of them named, dated, and placed. However as I said we still have a few hundred that will most likely never be identified.
Look over your own photographs are they named and dated? The picture of your grandmother in the picture frame is it labeled? It may have been in that frame for years, without her name placed on the picture’s back. This is another point I wish to make, place the name on the picture not on the frame backing. You have a good chance that they could be separated. Try this test could your children recognize your grandmother, aunts, and uncles throughout the years of their life? How about your grandchildren? Lets face it they are the ones who will be going through all your possessions once we are gone. If we did not care enough to take care of them and label them, why should they care?
I have had many people tell me they store their pictures in their home computer, even more on their cell phones. Do I really have to point out the danger of not getting these pictures printed in a timely manner? While they maybe up in a cloud somewhere floating around, how does that make them easily accessible to your family after you are gone. I have many pictures on my computer and they are backed up to a service I use. But I have hard copies of these pictures in albums and such for me to look at and to pass down to my family.
This brings me to a very slight change of subject. We all should share our pictures freely. In my research I found the wife of one of my elderly deceased second cousin. Because of her generosity I received a picture of my grandmother, great-grandmother, and my second great-grandmother, all in the same picture. Also I got a picture of a great-aunt that whose existence I was never told about. What a great find. I was walking on clouds for days. However, and we always have a however and here is mine. I was contacted by a man who was the grandson of my grandmother’s sister (on my father’s side) or you could say my great-aunt. He had pictures of both, my grandmother and great-aunt. This was a great deal as I have not found any pictures of my father’s parents or grandparents. We exchanged some information and he was to send me some copies of the pictures. But at the last moment he decided they were private family photographs and would not send them. Private? They were my grandmother and great-aunt. By failing to share our photographs we reduce the chance that our ancestors will live on in our family’s memory. I look forward to your comments.