Updated: May 21, 2020
This morning when I was out walking, I listened to the Genealogy Connection Podcast. If you're not familiar with it, it is hosted by Drew Smith, half of the Genealogy Guys. He interviews genealogists, historians, archivists, authors and others regarding genealogy. Today's guest was Margot Note, an archivist and author of Creating Family Archives: A Step-by-Step Guide to Saving Your Memories for Future Generations. I highly recommend it listening to the Podcast. I'm sure that you, like me, are thinking about organizing your genealogy and that includes getting it into shape so someone in the future can make sense of it. As I say in many of my lectures, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, my kids are likely to cremate my file cabinets with me! Drew's conversation with Margot really got me thinking. Do I have to keep everything? What's really important? How do I make sure that the important stuff isn't thrown out? Is scanning everything sufficient...what should I keep? How should I preserve it?
A lot of questions and maybe not so many answers. A couple of years ago I wrote about cleaning out my file cabinets. I made the decision that I didn't need to keep all of the paper copies of census records and other items that are now online. Many of those I moved to my digital files. This project continues, as I work on a family, I'll clean out the files and attempt to organize everything. But of course, there are things that I will keep, especially original copies of vital records, certificates, and of course, photos. That brings me to today's topic.
I inherited a photo album through my father from my great grandmother. When I received it in the early 1990s it was falling apart. The cover was a silk type fabric that was disintegrating and the pages were thin pieces of wood. I had heard how dangerous these materials could be to the photos, so I removed them, thinking I was saving the photos from further damage. Maybe I was, but here's what I didn't do. I didn't have any record of the order of the photographs in the scrapbook. Make sure you take a photograph of the pages in order before attempting to remove the contents. The person who put the scrapbook or album together probably did so with some type of order in mind. As I removed the photographs I discovered that for the most part there was nothing written on them that identified who was in the pictures. The cover said Our Friends, but my great grandmother had 10 brothers and sisters...I'm sure that some of them are in the pictures, but I don't know who. Over the years some of the pictures have been identified. As I discover new cousins for that part of the family I send them to the site to see if they recognize anyone. One woman when looking at a picture I had identified only as "Boy from Bridgeport, Connecticut" wrote to tell me that the picture was of her uncle, John Willis Beatty/Beattie who died in 1905.
Many of the pictures are cabinet cards that have the name of the photographer and a location. If you research the photographer you may be able to date the photo based on when they were in business. The photograph at the top was taken by Allison & Allison with studios in Belfast and Dundalk. My great grandmother lived in Dundalk in the 1890s and my great grandfather, a stone mason, died there in 1899. Research showed that the studio was opened there in 1896 and only used the name Allison and Allison for two years, then changing to just Allison. Is this family group my great grandparents along with my grandmother and her siblings? My grandmother was born in 1892, her sister in 1894 and brother in 1896. There was one other brother born in 1893, but I knew from other research that he was living with his grandparents in Leitrim. This photograph was likely taken in late 1896, perhaps for the baptism of the baby, George Edric Sprague. It is the only picture I have of my great grandfather.
Another of my projects is to continue moving content from my old website. Last week with the help of my daughter, Meagan, I connected my old site at moughty.com to IrishFamilyRoots.com. Meagan who just finished her Masters Degree in Social Work (but was a former email marketing director) had some time and was looking at the stats on my website. She noticed I was still getting a lot of hits on my old site and because of the history (the site was active from 2007-2018) she said I needed to combine the sites. In late 2018 the software I used to maintain the old site crashed and burned and I wasn't able to update it any longer. Now if you go to the old site, it will take you to the home page of this site. If you click on a specific blog post in Google and it was in the old site, you now get this message...
Hopefully you're aware that you can search the blogs here by key word or tags. If you get this message, click on "See More Posts" and at the top of the blog page, beginning with "All Posts" you can see the tags. At the end of the line, hover over "More" and you'll get a drop down menu with additional tags. Still looking for the place in Ireland? Just select "Finding a Locality in Ireland" and you'll see all of the blogs I've written on that topic. You might also want to look at "Brick Walls." You will get some overlap because many of the blogs have multiple tags.
So to tie this back to the photographs, you can now click on "Photos" in the top main menu and view some of the pictures from the scrapbook. Please check it out and if you recognize anyone, let me know. Do you have genealogy friends with any of the names listed at the top of the Photos page? Send them a link and have them take a look as well. I'd really like to know who these people are!
Do you have unidentified photographs? You can easily create a free blog and post your pictures. Then, if someone searches in Google, the photo will come up. Have you heard of DeadFred.com? That's another place to post your photographs, or search for possible family members. You can also follow Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective, for more information.
Unfortunately I've had to cancel the 2020 Ireland Research Trips. As soon as I have dates from the hotels (which are currently closed) I will post them on the website.
Here's a great way to restore your old photographs and documents. Try it for free.