If you are reading this blog, you probably have some interest in family history. You may even be the person in the family, like me, who is responsible for generations of photographs.
Here is what you should do right away: First, get your old photos out of the basement, attic, or garage, and into some kind of acid-free storage in a dry, cool place. My sister and I put a lot of my mother's old photos into new acid-free boxes and I thought they were safe for generations. However, someone at the historical archive where I volunteer pointed out that the photos themselves are acidic and need to be separated by acid-free paper. An inexpensive solution, suggested by the archive staff, is to use cut-up printer paper (just check the packaging to be sure that it is acid-free) and put it in between the photos. For more information about storage, see the article from Family Tree Magazine, Preserve Family Photographs.
Next, get out a soft-lead pencil and carefully label every single picture that you know about--who, when, where, and anything else you might know. See Safely Marking Your Photos from the same magazine, for the best tools for marking.
Gosh, I sound bossy this morning, but when you see the following precious and unidentified photos from our families, you will understand the need for labeling.
The first two are from a beautiful little doeskin-bound album of photos that were taken "back home" in New Brunswick by my mother. They are presumably friends and Crabtree relatives. We wish we knew.
|Great Auntie? Neighbor? On the home farm, or ?|
The next batch are real heartbreakers. They come from Beez's (okay, his real name is Bill) family on the German side, and we would love to know more about them. Fortunately, the first one contains enough hints that I was able to determine that this uniform was worn by members of the German Imperial Navy before and during World War I, that the cap was that of an NCO in the I. Werft Division, and that "s
|A grandfather, perhaps? A great-uncle? Look at that incredible bag he is holding!|
|This is the back of the German sailor's photo. Note that the marking in pencil has lasted, so far, for almost a hundred years! From the information here, we learn that the photo was taken in Dortmund, Germany. We still don't know the identity of the sailor, though.|
|She's lovely! Who is she? How sad that someone went to all the trouble of getting a professional photographer to take the picture, and then failed to tell us the name of the lady.|