I recently got some new furniture and the new arrangement left me with a blank wall. I thought it might be fun to have a picture wall but I didn’t want to use current photos because of how quickly they will be dated. (And also because there was no way I’d be able to decide on which ones to use.) Instead, I decided to start with photos that are already dated — dated by roughly 87 years. I’ve had these photos of my grandma’s for five or more years.
My crafty little project motivated me to go through all of the photos I have. I slowly started scanning them all on to my computer. Because after all, they’re not my photos. They really belong to my mom and her siblings and the entire family. It’s our shared history told in pictures.
I’m in awe looking at these pictures. I don’t know who the original owners of all of these are. From what I’ve gathered, some belonged to my mom’s grandma, some to her great-aunt and some to my her dad’s sister. My mom and I couldn’t even figure out who a lot of the people in the photos are.
So many of them, especially the military ones, look like photos you only see in documentaries or museums. Knowing that I’m somehow connected to the people in these photos is breathtaking.
I’m grateful for the technology to allow me to preserve these digitally. But at the same time, it makes me sad. Sad because so many of our photos and memories now are preserved on cell phones or computers or cameras. They can easily be deleted. While time hasn’t exactly done the quality of these photos a whole lot of favors, they’ve lasted. The few that have cursive writing noting what’s happening give them something special.
Tonight I scanned in nearly 200 black and white photos. Eventually I’ll work on the stack of color photos, a photo album and a dauntingly large box of slides. And maybe, just maybe, I pick some of my own photos and have them printed. I might take it a step further and add in some cursive descriptions on the backs. But for now, here’s a sampling of my findings.