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Old 10-11-03, 08:30 PM   #1
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No value for family history?

Today, I hit the antique stores looking for furniture for my new pad. I found some WONDERFUL old furniture at a great antique store where people have their old memorabilia on consignment. Some stuff was estate, but a lot of it were from people who no longer wanted these things in their family.

What struck me were all the PHOTOGRAPHS from turn of the century and from the earlier part of the 1900s the store was selling- piles of photos, some going for $1 each, and others going for .50 cents each. I found it sad.

When I got to the register to pay, I asked the woman working there about the photos. She said that a lot of the photos came from people who just didn't want them anymore. She told me about another woman that came in yesterday and bought a whole bunch of photos. When she came to the counter, she said she was going to use the photos to pin to her arms and legs and go as a family tree for Halloween. I told the woman at the register that it was sad that someone took so much time and consideration to take such beautiful photos, and all their efforts are the sum of a Halloween costume. But here's something that stunned me- as I turned to leave, I saw a few piles of photo albums sitting on the counter. I called my friend over, and we spent about a half hour going through people's photo albums and commenting on the pictures. All of these photo albums were from the 1960s and earlier, and some of them were from WW 2. In fact, one of the guys who served in WW II took a bunch of beautiful photos of some of the places the US soldiers fought- sometimes there were photos with the GI's in the background, and the GI's were taking pictures themselves!

One photo album in particular was from a woman who travelled A LOT- the scrapbook was beautifully documented and the photos were well preserved black and whites. She'd been travelling since she was in college, and she noted every place she'd been, what was going on in the picture, etc. The writing was beautiful script handwriting. It was all in order of dates, and some of those photos were priceless.

I bought the album.

I asked the woman at the register if there was any way I could contact the people who were selling the book and give them back the photos of the woman. The woman at the register said the people who dropped off the photo album had no interest in keeping the photos at all. I originally thought perhaps it was from an estate sale, but she said no, that the relatives just dropped off the book and kept on moving.

"Dang, they must really hate that woman", I told the woman at the register.

I was speechless when she said they weren't interested. Then I bought the book- mainly because I want to restore it and use the photos I took of some of the places she'd been (Canada, Mexico, and Illinois) and put them side by side next to mine, since I'd been to a lot of the places she'd been and took some of the same photos she took- I thought it would be cool to see how things have changed since 1957 and beyond.

But putting all that aside, I had a long discussion with my friend- we agreed that photos are priceless. How could someone possibly take a piece of their family history and put it on the auction block like that? I know I love every picture I've ever taken, and I was heartbroken when my college accidentally threw away a whole batch of pictures I took on a trip to Sweden back in 2000, which was a really special trip and meant a lot to me- I cried for like a week over that one. I'm still scarred from that experience. I could never look at one of my family the same way again if they pushed aside something so personal to me and pawned it off to some resale shop.

Ok, just pondering this- do people just have little or no value for family history, or am I just overthinking this whole thing?

After I left, I really wanted to go back and buy all the rest of the photo albums. But my friend and I figured, for every 5 we bought, there's probably going to be 5 new ones. Sad, isn't it?

I really hope I can respect what this woman was trying to do and add to what she'd done. She seemed like such a unique person- all that travel from 1957 and onwards, and to so many countries, plus she went to the same university I went to, and she was modelling in front of one of the halls where I used to hang. Weird. :-/

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Old 10-11-03, 09:15 PM   #2
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My wife and I can't even get the photo's into albums. I carry a disposable when I ride, An auto35 everywhere, and an SLR canon for the special stuff. She carries a digital(The way to go, really) and an auto35. About 1/20th of our photos have made it into albums.
We also have some of my family pictures, some going back a hundred years, that she is scanning and trying to repair the damage on. I would never give them up.
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Old 10-11-03, 09:19 PM   #3
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One man's trash is another man's treasure. There is a wonderful old book called After you, Marco Polo. My mother found this book, and passed it around to all her friends and family. You know the way sons can be, after several years she opened it to the first page and put it in my lap. I was mesmerised.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846
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Old 10-11-03, 09:31 PM   #4
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I have so many pictures it's not even funny- and I have another hundred rolls or so to go before everything is developed.

I can't wait for my newest camera- it's going to be a manual Canon camera- one of those old ones where you have to do a lot of manipulation and you can change the lenses, but the pictures come out looking awesome. I'm considering going around to all my relatives, hicks and all, and getting pictures and written histories of their families too. It would be a tremendous task, but the end result would be great. We'll see how things go in 2004 for this project.

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Old 10-12-03, 01:45 AM   #5
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Koffee, I know exactly how you feel. I too have purchased many old family photos from antique shops for the same reasons you did. I've been doing the family tree for six years now and have collected hundreds of old family photos. The oldest dating back to the 1880s (I know this because one of the persons in the photo died in 1887). I found a 3rd cousin in Luxembourg who had many photos of my family when they were in the old country. Doing the family tree and collecting old family photos has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life (next to biking, of course).

I've learned over time that many of my family's photos were destroyed or thrown out by those who viewed them as junk. These people never thought about checking with other family members to see if we would want them. How very sad.

So, I encourage you to get out there and contact as many family members as you can and see what photos they have before it's too late. It appears that the affect that those photos had on you at the antique shop may have set you on a journey that will give you more insight not only into your family history but also yourself. Good luck with your family project. You will not be disappointed.

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Old 10-12-03, 05:43 AM   #6
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When I was growing up my family never put photos in albums. We just put them back in the envelopes from the developers and tossed them in a big box. Every once in a while, we'd take them out and look at them again.

The last time I can rememer all of my family being together - less my dad who had passed - was at my younger sisters house. Me and my family, my sisters and theirs, and my mom sitting around the living room with three big boxes of old photos.

We went through them, laughing, telling stories, remembering happy and sad times, and it was a very moving experience. My wife and my sisters husbands didn't feel left out, either. They were included in the stories, the group hugs, it was great.

My younger sister now has those boxes and every once in a great while she drags them out. When I visit, I ask to see one box and go through them.

I would no more want to give them away or sell them than I would one of my kids!
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Old 10-12-03, 09:27 AM   #7
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Here's something sad- my aunt was keeping all the old photos of my maternal grandparents, and there was a huge fire and the photos were lost in the fire, so I'm afraid part of our family history is permenantly missing.
I think my dad's side may fare better with the photos.

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Old 10-12-03, 10:47 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
Here's something sad- my aunt was keeping all the old photos of my maternal grandparents, and there was a huge fire and the photos were lost in the fire, so I'm afraid part of our family history is permenantly missing.
I think my dad's side may fare better with the photos.

Koffee
Here's something sad and very mean. My wife has a very close friend whom she has known since they were in 1st grade in Japan. She married a GI and moved to California. A few years ago, they got divorced. When the husband was packing his things, he came upon all her pictures of her deceased mother and father and other family members. He tore them up into tiny pieces and burned them. Then, he told her what he had done.

Luckily, my wife had some pictures of her mother and was able to make copies and send to her.

Now that guy, I want him to meet my daughter in a dark alley!
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Old 10-12-03, 08:00 PM   #9
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Getting divorced is horrible but destroying something irreplaceable like early family photos is inexcusable.
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Old 10-12-03, 08:43 PM   #10
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When the husband was packing his things, he came upon all her pictures of her deceased mother and father and other family members. He tore them up into tiny pieces and burned them. Then, he told her what he had done.
Let's see... This sounds like the behavior of a spoiled 12 year old brat who acted out because he didn't get his way. I'd give anything to see this child jailed for destruction of personal property.
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Old 10-12-03, 09:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
Here's something sad- my aunt was keeping all the old photos of my maternal grandparents, and there was a huge fire and the photos were lost in the fire, so I'm afraid part of our family history is permenantly missing.
I think my dad's side may fare better with the photos.

Koffee
Sorry to hear about the lost photos, but don't give up just yet. If it's any consolation, I have found family photos from people who (before doing the family tree) I never knew existed.
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Old 10-12-03, 09:23 PM   #12
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Thanks Rev-

I am banking on it.

I few years ago, I found out my grandfather had a kid with another woman while married to my grandfather. I met her for the first time, and let me tell you, she was a breath of fresh air, and just the nicest woman too. My father's family never really talked about her, but she knew a lot about my father's family. I thought she was pretty classy and cool. I look forward to meeting more relatives like that.

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Old 10-13-03, 05:40 PM   #13
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There is a practical matter, space. I am the only surviving child in our family, so when Mom moved into an apartment(2 rooms) from her house(5 rooms), guess where the other 3 rooms worth of stuff went. We didn't add onto our house. Everything is just stuffed into the kid's bedrooms. We are talking settee's from the original family homestead, furniture my Dad made, Pictures by the boxs, quilts, bibles, baby shoes, chunks from the old barn where my dad started to carve his name when he was a kid, and on and on. It is a uncataloged museum where great things get lost and destroyed because they can't be found and protected. Somedays I do think that the things themselves would be better cared for by someone with more room, even if they didn't have the family connection. And what do I do with the pictures that I have no more idea than you or who they are?
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Old 10-13-03, 06:43 PM   #14
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At the very least, pass on the pics, regardless of whether you know names or not. I just feel like pictures and journals are pieces of history that need to be preserved at whatever cost, even if all you have is a scrap of a picture.

The other stuff sounds like you could take them to an antique resale shop and sell those things- keep the ones with the most sentimental value. Or at least, that's what I would do. I wish I had those things you mentioned in my family still.

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Old 10-13-03, 08:36 PM   #15
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Jean, you are really lucky, when my dad died this year, all there was, were a few family photos and his dog. I also have his dads handbuilt toolbox, but I have held onto that for him for a while.
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Old 10-13-03, 11:50 PM   #16
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Even if I had inadequate space I would definitely not take family photos to an antique shop. I mean, photos of your relatives, some of them dead already? That is too personal stuff. I would not want strangers to look at my family history.

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Old 10-14-03, 10:08 AM   #17
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Yeah, I would feel creepy thinking my personal family pictures are out there being groped by some stranger...



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Old 10-14-03, 11:28 AM   #18
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Family history is so important. I grew up thinking I didn't belong to my family because I don't really look like anyone, and I don't act like any of them either.I have been begging family to send me pictures so I can scan them. My family on my Mom's side is so small it is scary and unless my cousin has a son the family name dies out with him. I have been trying to do geneology research so when I have kids they won't have to wonder about their history like I did. The best part is that I now have a picture of my great grandmother and I look exactly like her, so now I finally feel like I belong.

I wish people would think of the future before they get rid of pictures, some where some time a child is going to want to know where they come from.
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Old 10-14-03, 12:17 PM   #19
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I wish I could find more pictures of my father's Father's side of the family.. it seems that they had a really big argument a long time ago and now nobody even knows who is who because all the people that did know have passed away... My father's father was 25-50% native american but I can't find out what tribe because of the argument... Of course someone else in my family left all their millions to their cat when they died so maybe they're all just crazy... hmmm... what were THEY thinking?
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Old 10-14-03, 11:16 PM   #20
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I wish I could find more pictures of my father's Father's side of the family.. it seems that they had a really big argument a long time ago and now nobody even knows who is who because all the people that did know have passed away... My father's father was 25-50% native american but I can't find out what tribe because of the argument... Of course someone else in my family left all their millions to their cat when they died so maybe they're all just crazy... hmmm... what were THEY thinking?
You may want to contact this organization for your Native American roots-

http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/omahatribe/

When I was in college, some Native Americans came to campus and told us if we thought we could find Native American ancestry, please register. Apparently, the more Native Americans there are, the more money the tribes get from the government for their needs. I don't think I have any, even though my maternal side of the famiy thinks we do, but if the ever provide proof, I'll certainly register. Definitely a reason to investigate, O2.


Koffee

Last edited by koffee brown; 10-15-03 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 10-15-03, 02:26 AM   #21
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Itís so wonderful to see so many people interested in finding their families. Like many of you, I had very little information or photos of my family especially on my fatherís side. I was determined to find out where I came from even though my immediate family only ďsort ofĒ knew where we came from. Thereís a saying that people from the past want to be found. Hereís a few example of how I got lucky in finding old family photos (and I mean very old photos).

*In my research I found out that my 2nd great-grandmother lived in a small town in Iowa. I went through the phonebook and wrote to everyone that matched her surname. I received a couple replies, but there was a woman in here 80s that sent me photos of my 3rd great-grandparents. Then she told me of the annual family reunion, which my family and I have attended for the last six years.

*My brother delivers oxygen tanks to the elderly in small rural towns. He was talking to one gentleman on his route and it turned out that he was related to us. It just so happened that he had a very large studio photo of my 2nd great-grandparents with their 11 children. He allowed my brother to have it professionally reproduced.

*My father and his father knew nothing of their family history. So, I had to start at the beginning. Over time I found out that my 2nd great-grandfather married a divorced woman (my 2nd great-grandmother). I was fortunate to find a family in Onalaska, Wisconsin who were related to this woman. Even though they only had a photo of my 2nd great-grandparentís house, there was a person who was still living who knew my 2nd great-grandparents and passed on several old stories and told me a little of their personalities. I also found out that my 2nd great-grandfather was a freemason in Onalaska. I wrote them and they were so kind to go out to the cemetery and took photos for me of my 2nd great-grandparent's tombstones. Through the information that the freemasons gave me I was fortunate to connect my family with a family that is now being researched by professional genealogist. Because of this I now can take my fatherís side of the family back to my 8th great-grandparents who came to America in the late 1600s.

*I knew that one side of my family came to America from Luxembourg. I found out that there was a Luxembourg newspaper written in the late 1800s and early 1900s for those who lived in Eastern Iowa at that time. In this newspaper I found an article about my 3rd great-grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. With the article was a studio photo of my 3rd great-grandparents with their 11 children.

I have countless other stories like this. I also found photos and documents on the many genealogy sites on the web. If you want to find your family, the information is out there. Remember that your family tree just doesnít go straight back in time with your grandparents and their parents, etc. Your family tree has grown outward in time. You have 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins who may have valuable family information and photos. Over time, youíll be surprised at the number of unknown family members who are also searching for you.

Good luck,
Dan
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Old 10-15-03, 04:45 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
You may want to contact this organization for your Native American roots-

http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/omahatribe/

When I was in college, some Native Americans came to campus and told us if we thought we could find Native American ancestry, please register. Apparently, the more Native Americans there are, the more money the tribes get from the government for their needs. I don't think I have any, even though my maternal side of the famiy thinks we do, but if the ever provide proof, I'll certainly register. Definitely a reason to investigate, O2.


Koffee
Thanks for the link Koffee! I'll be sure to check it out!

Last edited by koffee brown; 10-15-03 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 10-16-03, 10:03 AM   #23
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I think the only possession I would try to save if I had a house fire would be the family photos
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Old 10-16-03, 10:08 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
You may want to contact this organization for your Native American roots-

http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/omahatribe/

When I was in college, some Native Americans came to campus and told us if we thought we could find Native American ancestry, please register. Apparently, the more Native Americans there are, the more money the tribes get from the government for their needs. I don't think I have any, even though my maternal side of the famiy thinks we do, but if the ever provide proof, I'll certainly register. Definitely a reason to investigate, O2.


Koffee
Thanks Koffee ... I will do the same also. I also have some old B&W pics of some of my Americanized Indian .. oops .. I mean, Native American relatives. Pretty cool to see the old pictures.
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Old 10-16-03, 01:22 PM   #25
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I can go back maybe 3 generations, most of my family
were European immigrants and any records of other family members were destroyed along with them in
World War II.

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