Preserve your Pictures and Stories

The New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists had a recent program presented by Michell Novak,  “Picturing Your Research Finding, Procuring, and Preserving Images.” Michell was excellent; she inspired me to dust off my (empty) acid-free boxes and start scanning and preserving.

I love all of the old pictures; they bring the story to life so much better than just words.  I don’t have a lot of old photos from my family, but I have a decent amount from my husband’s family.  I’m slowly putting them in safe storage and scanning as I do it.  It’s ironic that I am digitizing old pictures, but at the same time, we seldom print out our digital photos.  I wonder how future generations are going to gather photographs?  Will Facebook be around forever?

Each year at Christmas I either share a genealogy write-up or an old picture in a frame with my husband’s family. My Mother-in-Law, Catherine passed away December 26,  2016,  so this past  Christmas I created a memory book.  It came out pretty nice, but adding text wasn’t easy.   It was something I pulled together and had printed via Walmart. I’m fortunate enough to know the story behind many of the pictures, but I am sure there are many memories which are lost forever.

I started thinking about my own story.  Not just say my story, but life in the time in which I am living.  My children are young adults and aren’t as interested in the past as I am.  They may not have an interest ever.  But who’s to say their children will not.

The lead image of my post is a garden with a bench.  It may not look like much, but I remember creating the garden at my Dad’s house, and how important it was in building a relationship with my father.  I lived in an apartment at the time, and somehow I had convinced my father to let me, and my boyfriend (now husband) to dig up his backyard to create a vegetable and later a perennial garden.  My dad did quite a bit of the work, rototilling, building the bent wood to for the path, loading stones, etc.  It was a few years where we had something in common, and a reason to spend time together.  My youngest brother, would come out and help us as well.  The picture of him picking tomatoes brought memories of him as a little boy, and it made me smile.  He appears to be talking in the picture.  He loved to talk!  He was a charming boy and had the sweetest personality.  He’s grown up to be a fantastic guy, but the man has replaced the boy. When he was little, he would sit on my lap, tell stories, and sing. He liked “Big Digs” (toy bulldozers), and our Labrador retriever. Just a single picture brought back these memories, but how do you capture them?  Perhaps it would make sense to include an acid-free note with the picture.

A few pictures brought back all of these memories.  I wish I had some stories like that from my ancestors.  I encourage you to dust off some of your photo books and record the story behind them.

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