Saturday, October 20, 2018
Connecting Photos to Missing Families:
Now There are More of Us
It's no secret that I got my inspiration for rescuing abandoned family photos from one particular blogger. She's known as "Far Side of Fifty," and her blog, Forgotten Old Photos has been making a daily appearance since her first post almost exactly nine years ago. That's a lot of dogged pursuit of descendants of missing ancestors.
I'm sure I'm not the only one "Far Side" inspired. And I know others have since joined in this pursuit from the comments they've shared with me after receiving a rescued picture I sent to them. In addition to this connection with those who've inspired others they meet, it's likely there are even others who have no more idea of what we're doing than we have of the conquests they are making in the same endeavor.
Take this one example from a fellow member of my own local genealogical organization. Someone posted a link on our society's Facebook group explaining what had just happened, or I never would have known about it. It seems this fellow society member had spotted an old wedding photo at a boutique, sometime over a year ago, and immediately wanted to have it.
"It's not for sale," the owner of the shop told her. And that was that.
Except...when this woman got home, the more she thought about it, the more she dwelt on the thought of family members of the bride and groom who would want to have that missing photo. After thinking about it for a long time, she returned to the shop and asked permission to make a copy of the photo. She wanted to do what she could to help find family who would be the rightful owners of the wedding picture.
Projects like these take time. Eventually, the woman told someone at a local heritage organization—someone who might be enlisted as a partner in this project. Together, they spread the word as far and wide as they could. A local television station and the local newspaper agreed to carry the story, complete with interviews of the two women who initiated the search. Earlier this month—not long after the original reports—our local newspaper followed up with the explanation that the now-eighty-two-year-old groom, currently living in Texas, heard from family that his wedding photo was the subject of media reports.
While both Far Side and I search for missing family members via our blogs, others such as my fellow genealogical society member use other media. Some of us are fortunate to make connections with major media; others attempt that same connection through social media or other means. Whether by word of mouth, website, newsletter, local display, or other means, we're all getting the word out there, the best we can.
While it's good that there are more of us with a heart to reunite these photographic family heirlooms with interested descendants, I often wonder if we could amplify the reports of our own efforts by networking to spread the news. And yet, how many people automatically think of examples of such collective efforts as "Dead Fred"? (No, not that Dead Fred; I'm talking about a website where people can search through surname catalogs to see if any of their ancestors' photos were posted, a place where members, for a fee, can upload photographs they've found, as well.)
It would be empowering to come up with a way to amplify each other's attempts at rescuing family photographs. Just think of how many pictures could be reunited with descendants—a task which, at present, seems to be no less daunting than seeking a diamond-studded needle in the proverbial haystack. Those of us who feel called to that mission need a way to network with and support each other, if nothing else. It certainly was encouraging to me to discover that someone else in my own organization had the heart for the very same project.
How many others of us are out there?