Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did you ask Grandma about it?

The Locke Diamond Wedding Photo Album
Of course you didn't - because you were young and having fun, and you were interested in the future and not the past. But now, perhaps 60 years later , you wish you had asked Grandma about her Grandma - and a lot more of other questions she could have helped you with.  Now you are retired you have time to research your distant ancestors. You will have collected lots and lots of information to pass on to your descendants. In fact you may be struggling to fill in some details of your comparatively recent family history and the relevant records have not survived.
But have you forgotten something?
My father in 1922
  You are also part of the family history to the future generations, and so were your parents, but apart from the basic facts, have you really left a usable record for future generations to follow.
  I was looking through a draw yesterday and found the snapshot album my mother kept from her marriage in 1938 up to 1950. Very helpfully - for me - virtually all were labeled with the place and date, and the occasional name. But of course I know enough of the story to know what the pictures are saying.
  There was also a packet containing some other loose photographs - including some earlier photographs which must have come from my father. Of course the album only went up to 1950 - and my mother left 5 other later albums (and many other packets of photos) and there is the special album given to my grandparents showing all their descendants on the occasion of their diamond wedding. In addition I have some of the photographs from three now extinct branches of the family, while my own collection includes many boxes of slides - but I no longer have a projector to view them.
My father in 1940
  If my son had to clear our house there is no way he could find time to sort through the heaps of material I have and identify the items that are really worth keeping.  If I want to safeguard the "gems" of the family history they need to be properly identified and stored where they can be found. In addition the total volume of really precious items should be manageable in a modern household. This would suggest that a selective digitisation of the pictures would be a good idea, together with an appropriate written commentary. . 
Pool Farm, Luxborough,
Somerset in 1940
Now converted to houses
  So I thought I would start by using some of the pictures from the envelope to illustrate the page for my father, Gerald Finch Reynolds, on the appropriate ancestral page of this web site.
   I then had a look through the album to work out a strategy and immediately noticed a number of views (in some cases with family members in them) which could be of historic interest. As a child our holidays frequently involved staying on a farm or in a rural cottage, some of which are now listed buildings, and it could be worth putting some of these 60-70 year old photographs "on record".

Miller's Farm, Ninfield, East Sussex in 1944
Now a listed building

I have already scanned a number, mainly relating to Somerset and Devon, and posted high resolution images on Geograph, where they will be available to historians and the people who now live in them.. Farms have changed a lot since my childhood and I feel I should use selected photographs to illustrate a memoir of holidays in the 1940's for future generations.
  I also think it would be a good idea to scan the Diamond Wedding Album which includes pictures of at least 100 relatives, and put it on a CD, with a family tree, with copies to all the living relatives I can trace. Once I have done this there is still much more to do
To encourage others why don't you post a comment here to say how you plan to pass on your family's twentieth century stories to the 21st century (and beyond) generations ...
or are you just waiting for the time when your grandchildren are interested enough ask you ...

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