Importance of Old Family Photos

A little over a year ago I got really into genealogy, and when I get into a hobby there’s no stopping me-they become obsessions and it’s kind of scary.  I literally can not rest until I feel that I’ve done as much as I can with whatever it is I’m into.  I think it’s a trait I inherited from my dad’s side of the family.  I remember many years back he really got into making jello (of all things) and was obsessed with making his jello have the perfect consistency to his liking and the problems of adding certain kinds of fruit (like pineapple-which throws off the water percentage).  Anyhow, he kept adding and adding to his jello solution to make it perfect until he wound up with this gigantic bowl of jello that took up an entire shelf in his fridge.  It’s like that for me with my hobbies too 🙂

So anyway, it all started with a photo of my dad as a baby with his mom and his great grandfather on his mom’s side.  I took the photo out of the frame to scan it and found a piece of paper with all their names  and birth dates (as well as his grandmother’s- whose name my dad hadn’t even known) and a note to the great grandfather wishing him a Happy Easter.  Also behind the frame was an even older photo dating from 1919 of my dad’s mom as a little girl with her mother.  I was ecstatic to say the least.  My dad didn’t remember much about his great grandfather as he died when my dad was very young.  His only memory of his great grandfather is just seeing him standing at the top of the stairs.


My dad at just a few months old with his mother Dorothy and his great grandfather Gustav.  Below is the note and photo that were hidden behind this photo.

This got me really excited to see what else I could find out about my relatives and Dan’s as well.  With the help of my husband’s aunt Cris who did a lot of research about his mom’s side of the family and an old family history book about my mom’s mom’s side of the family I had a great basis to start.  I began using ancestry.com and familysearch.com to add even older relatives to the information I was given by Cris and the family history book.  Cris sent me loads of fantastic photos of people and I also ordered micro film images of my dad’s distant German relatives I’d discovered.  It as amazing to see Bible entries for births, marriages, and deaths.  I’ve had the most luck with my maternal grandmother’s side of the family and have traced them back to the 800’s.

My dad’s grandfather on his dad’s side, Adam who was a solider in the Spanish American War.  My dad remembers the huge scar that was on his forearm from where he blocked a bayonet attack.  I received a scan of this photo from one of my dad’s cousins after contacting him about it.  When I posted this photo on ancestry.com I immediately was contacted by another of my dad’s cousins who had never seem this photo before.  She said she had others to share with me, and I am looking forward to seeing them.


Then there’s this one from my mom’s side of the family.  It came with a letter that said it was Sydney (my mom’s maternal grandfather possibly with his father)  I just love the slice of life of this one with the horse, cart, and store.


Here is my husband’s 4th great grandfather Ephraim Walters Jr. who lived from 1776-1865.  Looked like a friendly fellow….

Here’s a beautiful photo of my husband’s maternal great grandmother Isabel.  I think she looks like a librarian with those wire rimmed glasses!

I cherish these old photos. They are so few and far between and only give you small ideas of the people in them.  I wonder if photos of today will be so special to generations down the line.  There are quite a few of my mom (not many of my dad unfortunately, many of me growing up, and so many of Fi and Lex that it is ridiculous.  Will the abundance of photos of the girls make them less special to their great great grand children?  Will their great great grandchildren not appreciate them as much since they are overwhelmed by the amount of photos we’ve left behind?

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2 responses to “Importance of Old Family Photos

  1. I think future generations will appreciate the quanity of photos.. even with our parents we only get snapshots here and there of what their life was like, a highschool grad photo, and a marage photo maybe a baby photo or 2… for the next generation they will get to see day by day how our kids grew up, what their interests were. They may not cherish each photo on its own as much but the whole collection will have the same value.

  2. I have also just recently become fascinated with old family photos and genealogy as my mom has begun to go through boxes and boxes of old photos.

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