Thursday, June 16, 2016

Photographs Unveil Information in a New Light

I’ve had a very strange week – genealogywise!  It started with this recent family photo tree purchase:


I always wanted to place family photos on the wall in my office but I couldn’t decide which pictures to use or how to group them.  I saw the photo tree concept online but the reviews weren’t good; some said it was difficult to put together and others complained it wouldn’t stay up on the wall.  The trees were pricy, too, and I didn’t want to waste time and money on a product that would frustrate me.
A few weeks ago I found the tree pictured above offered through Books R Fun locally.  The reasonable price and the easy directions worked for me!  Within minutes I had the tree up and then it hit me – why not use couple photos.  I could display more people that way and since my husband and I share an office, it would serve as a nice reminder of our many grandparents. 
I didn’t think it was going to take me long to finish the project as I sort of knew which photos I would select.  First problem I encountered was my photos were missing from Google Photos.  I’ve blogged previously about how Google Picassa has morphed into Google Photos and I thought that I had successfully transferred all of them from one program to the other a few months ago.  Evidently, most did not take.  Please check if you did that, too, as it’s better to know now then when you need them.
No worries, I thought, I have them saved elsewhere.  That’s when I realized the computer where I had saved them had bit the dust.  I checked Dropbox; they weren’t there, either.  I must have removed them when I reached the max allowable on my plan.  They were on Ancestry.com but to have to go through the gallery to locate them would be time consuming.  I have backups on cd but those were saved by family surnames and I would have had to keep flipping through the various cds to find what I wanted.  I then remembered that I had installed Picassa on the desktop of an old laptop.  Sure enough, there they all were!  Since I had taken the time to place all the photos in albums it was a breeze to find what I was looking for quickly.  I’m glad this happened now as I have since backed up the laptop pictures to 2 hard drives and again, to Google Photos.  The $8.00 tree purchase saved me future grief!
Being a thrifty genealogist, I decided I wouldn’t print the photos to photographic paper until I had them perfect as most of the photos I selected didn’t fit easily into the frame size.  I plan to make them real photos this weekend and add children of the couples to frames that will surround the tree. 
As I was arranging and rearranging the photos on the tree itself I was startled to discover how much of a strong family resemblance my father-in-law had to his mother and grandmother!  My husband bears a remarkable resemblance to his maternal grandfather who he never knew.  I have seen these photos for most of my adult life; none were new to me.  It wasn’t until I placed them in the tree that I noticed the similarities between individuals. 
I’m not sure if it was because they were now almost all the same size, shape, and color, the angle on the wall or the proximity to each other.  Looking at them from this perspective was nothing short of startling. I highly recommend trying this!  You may discover things about your family in a completely different way.
When I looked at myself, however, I was stunned.  I don’t look like anyone!  I blurted out that I must have been adopted but hubby pointed out that I have the original birth certificate and that there are photos of me in my mother’s arms in the hospital shortly after I was born.  Mom clearly looked like she had been through labor!  I knew I had my mom’s eyes and figured my hair was just a blend of both of my parents – my dad’s blonde and my mom’s dark brown.  Looking at the photos I realized I had my paternal grandmother’s hair, my maternal grandmother and great grandmother’s nose and my paternal grandfather’s chin.  Okay, so my dna is all mixed up – I am a true red blooded American mutt! 
The photos didn’t just unveil family similarities; they also showed up some commonalities uniting all sides.  I always thought my preference for pearls was a result of watching Leave It To Beaver as a child and channeling June Cleaver!  Nope, in just about every photo a female is wearing pearls.  I shared this insight with my daughter who just happened to be wearing pearls.  Nice to know that trait got passed along to another generation.
I also discovered that one of the great great grandpas was wearing some type of insignia.  I never noticed it before and it’s another mystery to solve.  Taking a look back at your old photos may just lead you to more amazing family discoveries.

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