It has been cold January in NC this year. While the weather is so cold, I enjoy the opportunity to stay inside and focus on my family history projects for a while. One of my ongoing project is attempting to identify all those “unidentified” photographs I have inherited in my role as the family’s historian.
There are a lot of unidentified photos in my office, but I have hopes that one day, I will get them all identified.
How about you? Do you have a pile of photographs of “relatives” you just cannot identify? Not even sure if they are relatives?
I thought so.
May I offer some suggestions?
If you know which family the photographs came from, keep them in a group. For example, I keep all the photographs that came from my paternal Great grandmother Carr together. I may not know who everyone is, but at least I can be assured they are not my maternal Howard relative.
If you received the photographs in a photo album, leave them in there initially. If the photo album is in bad shape or one of those “magnetic” albums from the 1970′s, take digital photographs of each page before taking the photographs out. Photo albums can tell a chronological story. Often family groups or groups of friends can be determined by the order the photographs were put into the album.
Have as many people as possible in your family to view the photos. E-mail them out to relatives. Don’t forget those more distant relatives! That mystery man in a photo could be a distant who stopped by for a visit once. While not well known in your family, he could be well known in another family branch.
If you know the region or area a set of photographs came from, contact the local historical society and/or genealogical society. You may be able to post the photographs in their newsletter to increase the chances someone will recognize the photo.
Good luck with identifying those unknown photographs! (And stay warm!)
(Oh, and if you recognize the two men in the photograph above, let me know. I have not idea who they are!)
I love sharing stories about my ancestors. I don’t know many genealogists or family historians who do not.
Most people do not want to hear an hour long summary of my ancestor. Or a 10 minute summary. Or a 5 minute summary…(think teenagers.)
It seems most family members want a “quick version” when asking about an ancestor (think teenagers again!). In terms of social media, people want the twitter version, not the blog post version.
For example, when my teenager asked me about this photograph of my grandmother Cecile White Howard, he wasn’t asking for her entire life history. He was simply asking who she was. On some level, he was also asking where in the context of the family history does this woman fit. (At least that’s what I like to think.)
Could I impart enough information about my grandmother in 140 characters to peak a family member’s interest in future conversations?
Cecile White Howard – The Twitter Version
G’mom Cecile, G’mom’s mother, red head, wedding photo, made candy, great cook, smiled a lot, played board games w grandkids
Short, sweet and under 140 characters.
A conversation starter.
I think my grandmother would like the results. I know my family does.
Can YOU “twitter-ize” your ancestors? Share your versions in the comments.
No one can argue that family gatherings are a great place – perhaps the best place – to collect family stories and history. But what about when that family gathering is a sad occasion? A funeral.
My family recently said good-bye to the eldest member of our family. Anita Carr Talbott passed away last month at the age of 96. While this branch of my family tree is small in numbers, the stories are numerous.
This occasion got me thinking….how does one collect family history during a family’s time of loss? Should a family historian even attempt to learn some of the family’s story during this time?
Yes, if done with sensitivity.
Tips for oral history in the sad times
First and foremost be sensitive to the feelings of your family and/or friends. You know them best. Go with your gut feeling. If you have any thought that this is not the right time to approach someone with a question, don’t. It is best to wait.
Just listen. Remembering a loved one is natural once they are gone. Family and friends want (and need) to share their stories about their loved one. The stories flow naturally in the conversations. So…just listen. Later you can make a few notes for yourself to jog your memory.
Ask to get together at a future date. Often at funerals, we come in contact with our more distant relatives. These relatives often have a different set of memories and stories than were passed down through our family line. Express your interest in their family stories and exchange contact information. A future visit or phone call will yield more time for more in-depth family interviews.
Keep a small notebook handy, but choose your note taking time wisely. On these sad occasions, I do not take notes during a visitation or funeral. I keep a small notebook in my purse and/or my car where I can write down notes after I have left the event and before I drive home.
I’ve spent the last few days adjusting to the change back to standard time from Daylight Savings Time. The shift hasn’t been too difficult this year.
There was a time when making the adjustment from Daylight Savings Time back to the standard time was very difficult. Any parent of small children knows the havoc the changing time has on the family schedule. When my children were small it could several weeks to get everyone adjusted to the new schedule. Their little internal clocks showed no regard for the time change.
Winnie Haley Carr (my great grandmother) most definitely did NOT like Daylight Savings Time. Her clocks always stayed on standard time regardless of the time of year. Her grandchildren report she simply had no use for the changing time.
Hmmm…how did she get to events on time? Did she constantly make the mental adjustment of time during Daylight Savings months? It seems that would be mentally tiring after a while.
How about your family?
Did anyone just disregard the time change each fall and spring?
If you are looking for something to do this weekend – and even if you’re not! – check out the Family History Fair at the NC Department of Cultural Resources. You will find lots of information on how to discover your family history.
Esther’s Place will there, too. Stop by and let’s chat about family history (my favorite topic!).
Sometimes family history just falls into your lap.
Elma Talbott – ~1923
I have been working little by little to scan all my great grandmother Esther Richardson Talbott’s letters and correspondence. I’m making good progress with this project.
As I was preparing to scan a June 1923 letter from Bossy Talbott to his mother-in-law Hattie Richardson this photograph fell into my lap.
Who was this little girl? She looked so much like my grandfather Crafton Talbott, but was much too young to have been him in 1923.
A phone call with my Dad a few days later and the mystery was on its way to being solved.
We are fairly confident the little girl is Elma Lee Talbott (1920-1999). She would have been between 2 and 3 years of age when this photograph was taken. Elma was the third child and youngest daughter of Boss Henry Talbott and Esther Lee Richardson of Halifax County, VA. This is by far the youngest photograph I have seen of her.
I wanted to get a better look at the two men in the photograph. I cropped them out and enlarged the photograph.
Unidentified Man and Joe Merritt Talbott
The man leaning against the tree is my GG grandfather Joe Merritt Talbott (1861-1950).
The third man sitting on the wagon? I have no clue.
Talbott Cousins – Does anyone recognize this man?
This photograph was taken on the front porch of what the family referred to as the log cabin and was the home of Boss Talbott and his wife Esther. Joe Merritt Talbott owned a house and land next door on present day Old Cluster Springs Rd in Halifax County, VA. That house was always referred to as “the big house”.
Funny how we still refer to those houses as the” log cabin” and the “big house” even though neither have been in the family for years.
Earlier in August Laura contacted me because she had found her great grandfather Britton Howardmentioned here on my blog. Britton Howard was the brother of Connie Howard, my great grandfather. That makes us third cousins. (Thank goodness for those family relationship charts online!) Her grandmother Ruth is Britton Howard’s daughter.
The three of us had a lovely time sipping coffee at Starbucks and sharing family history stories. As brothers, Connie and Britton were quite different. Connie worked in construction and Britton went into ministry as a minister. Cousins, did you know Britton’s nickname was Teague? Our side of the family referred to him as Uncle Brit. Did you know that he was struck by lightening as a young man?
What did Ruth remember about my grandfather Lester Howard? He was special. (I think so, too!)
I showed this photograph to a few cousins at the Haley family reunion I attended in Keysville, VA this past August.
One of my “new” cousins quickly said, “That’s my Daddy.”
Percy Haley 1910
And just like that, the young man on the right of the photograph was identified as Percy Haley, son of William and Clara Haley. Another cousin dated the photograph as being taken in 1910. The wagons are from the Clarkton plantation where Will Haley was the overseer. (Thanks, Emmit and Stanley!)
I was thrilled to have the young man identified, but perhaps more excited to see Percy son’s eyes light up when he saw a long forgotten photograph of his father. I spend much of my time researching family history and genealogy , but it is these moments and connections with family members that mean the most.