For as many years as eBay has been in existence I have been bidding on and purchasing old process photographs with children and dogs. In recent years these have become a little too pricey for me to win often. The photograph above is one I recently purchased for a very decent price. It’s an ambrotype in a pristine Union case. In the case was a slip of paper that read Myrta Hill and Mrs. R. E. Smith, woohoo! For me this is the holy grail of photography finds. I can match the photograph with a family. After a brief search on Ancestry I found Myrta’s family and was able to contact the owner of their family tree and send them a copy of the photograph.
I love it when that happens. I love the investigative work that goes into this and I am all too familiar with the feeling of seeing new old photographs of relatives. Being online with the genealogy community has given me so many opportunities to communicate with relatives that I had no idea existed. They all are similar minded and very open to sharing what they have. There have been instances where I have met long-lost cousins with photographs in hand and others that have emailed me diary transcripts from the mid to late 1800′s.
In the past few months, with online connections, I have seen photographs of my father as a baby and my grandparents that I have never seen before. It’s really a wonderful experience. With this photograph arriving in the mail I was able to share that experience with a total stranger and that is something that makes searching these little treasures out worthwhile. I often wonder when I buy one of these what happened to the photograph’s family, especially when there isn’t any identifying information with or on the photo. Because of the time period of my collection we are going back a few generations and in my mind I know that someone’s estate was cleared out and things put up for auction. Either there were no family members left, they didn’t realize what was in the auctioned items or they didn’t care. Sad.
I have been the “keeper” of family photographs forever. Someone’s household is cleaned out the photographs come to me. I scan them, put them in chronological order and file the originals away. I currently have thousands of photographs from all branches of my family as well as Bill’s. The beauty of this is in the sharing. Being able to show other family members the photographs they have never seen. Sharing is a little gift on my part but very often it seems like a big gift to the receiver. I know, being on the receiving end is wonderful.
Posting will be a bit sporadic for another couple of weeks. I will be packing up all those photographs and moving them to Rowe (hopefully their final home). No small feat because moving them can be a real distraction. I have to just move them and not look at them until I have time. I expect regular postings to resume once I’m there. Send positive thoughts for a smooth transition!