Sunday, July 4, 2010

Old Pictures

This weekend, spent in Lethbridge, Lloyd and I became the recipients of a dozen or so of Lloyd's mother's photo albums. I think because I'm a scrapbooker everyone considers me the custodian of the photographs. This past year I have also become the caretaker of my mother's photo album collection.

It's fun to go through those old pictures 'remembering' events and people caught in snapshots of daily life and special events. However, many of the pictures are mysteries to us - who are these people? why do we have pictures of them? how important or trivial are they to our family? Others are considered important, milestone, classic pictures with stories to tell.

Mum and Dad with their three children and spouses, and 11 grandchildren - 1986

Dad (center) with his parents and sisters - 1930

Dad and me - 1948

Going through my mother-in-law's photos this weekend we found several albums full of pictures of people we didn't know, fuzzy out-of-focus pictures, yellowed discolored pictures, etc. Thelma was very good at writing the who, where and when on the back of most of the pictures. That helps a lot. Still, Lloyd and I don't want to have albums full of people and events that mean absolutely nothing to us. His sisters aren't very interested in old pictures. So we have decided that we'll put them all on display at the family reunion in August and let everyone go through them and take any pictures they want (Lloyd and I have already taken the ones we want). The rest of the unwanted pictures will be trashed.

It made me think of all the thousands of pictures I've taken and collected. What will happen to them after I'm no longer here? Not every picture is a treasure so a lot will be thrown out I'm sure. However, the ones I put into scrapbooks will live on - the journalling on the pages will tell the family stories. Hopefully they'll be treasured.

Very important to Lloyd and me - the story of how I came to move from Nova Scotia to Edmonton in 1968.

A family classic - me in 1953 and a story to tell.

This whole process of going through old photos has made me realize that I must work more on my scrapbooks, especially the ones I consider heritage ones. I want our grandchildren and their children to be able to look at these books and enjoy the stories being told and gain insight into who they are and where they come from. I don't want our stories to die with us, and I want to preserve the stories of our parents and grandparents through these scrapbooks.

So, a final word of advice. Take a few minutes to write names, dates, locations, etc. on the back of your photos so that those coming after you will know the important data when they do their scrapbooks. And keep taking pictures! And if you're looking for a new hobby to take all your time and money, consider scrapbooking. You'll never regret it.


Anonymous said...

Before the historians faint in horror regarding the trashing of any pictures, the pics to be discarded are evaluated according to the following criteria:

Do they of historical significance to the family
Are they duplicated in other superior similar pictures
What is the quality of the pics and can they be restored successfully
Does any Family Member wish to retain the picture?

Many of the pics are insignificant to the family going forward, badly discoloured from years of storage, and of no lasting interest. This does not take away from the value and appreciation of the family in having the many photos that are truly both historically significant and a lasting treasure.

Pat MacKenzie said...

Thanks for that clarification Lloyd. We would never throw away any one-of-a-kind historical pictures.

JQ said...

Mum, maybe send a note to the NB relatives about the pics. They might be important to them. Lyle might be interested too. If you don't want to store them, give them to me. Also, it would be nice if some were set aside for people not invited or able to go to the secret reunion.

Sara_HB said...

Yes, what is this secret "family reunion" I keep hearing about but have never been invited to.

Also, I'd love to take a look at the albums.

Jane said...

I have a ton of photographs around the condo that i need to organize. Your post gives me inspiration to start building a scrapbook!


Anonymous said...

Seriously though, what reunion? - Mary

Anonymous said...

There is no secret reunion. Mark and Jake planned to get together on Aug 5th and some other family members began expressing a desire to attend since Jake and family rarely visit from their home in California. As a result, my sisters and I decided to invite everyone for a reunion when we had lunch last Saturday. Cheryl was assigned communications officer for the reunion and will be sending out an email to everyone shortly. We hope you all can make it.
Mom and Dad

Kath said...

I have a box of old photographs of my dads that needs going through. I recognize some of the people in them. He didnt write on the back of them at all.
I am always going to go sit with my aunts someday and have them tell me who these people are and put them in an album. Its yet to happen. :(
I have tons of photos that are not in albums yet. That would be a good task for Tessa and I while I am on bedrest.