My maternal grandmother (that’s her in the picture) passed away in January, followed by her sister in February and my maternal grandfather in May. Suddenly, an entire generation of my mother’s family was gone. When my grandmother died, she left behind a huge stash of family photographs, which I have been organizing ever since. Right now, I am working with the photos in her collection that were taken from approximately 1855 through the 1950s. My plan is to compile these photos into a book to give to relatives by Christmas this year.
Having spent most of my life in New England, I have had a hard time identifying the people and places in some of grandma’s photos, most of which were taken in Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. I often look at the photos and wonder, “Now, who the heck is that?” The people who could answer this question live hundreds of miles away.
To overcome this geographical problem, I started posting the mystery photos on a blog for family members a couple of weeks ago. I sent an e-mail to my aunt and to a cousin who is interested in genealogy, asking them to take a look at the pictures and pass the link on to other family members as they saw fit.
The results have been amazing. I have been receiving fabulous information from relatives far and wide, some of whom I have never met. My understanding of this photo collection – and of my family’s history – is increasing rapidly.
If you have mystery photos, I highly recommend setting up a family photo blog. You can restrict access, making the blog password protected or at least not identifiable by search engines, if you are not comfortable putting your family pictures on the web for all to see. I use WordPress, but there are plenty of other options out there. If you need help setting up a blog, you might want to check out Lisa Louise Cooke’s Family History website and podcast. She has been discussing how to create a blog using Blogger over a few recent episodes of her podcast.