Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dead End Photo Albums

I assume all of you of a certain age will remember the dead end letter department of the U.S. Postal service.  Since most of humanity uses phones, texts, emails, computers etc. instead of letter writing the art of communication has changed dramatically in the past ten years----yikes is that all of the time that has passed?  Anyway,  saving  photos on those devices as well as  our memory cards and  clouds in the sky are the usual method for preserving our memories these days.  Recently, I have had occasion to purchase at auction or in antique shops  a number of photo albums containing wonderful studio cards and photos depicting women, children, military men and newly wed couples usually dressed in their finery and seated in photo studio with ornate wicker, ferns, arty back drops and sometimes heavy drapery.  The clothing and d├ęcor give excellent clues as to the time period these very personal photos were taken.  I have admired the carefully coifed "dos" of the women or the outrageous hats they donned all for vanity.  Men's fashions don't usually vary greatly from one decade to another, although now and then a young fellow will display a touch of dash with a watch fob or rakish hat.  Children are particularly fetching because they, of course, are the most natural in their poses.  Some early photos have survived and they are poignant in their simplicity----no fancy clothing or furniture but rather a couple or single person looking out at us with a certain degree of sadness.  Usually, the new pioneers or emigrants  had these pictures taken in order to send something home across the vast ocean or to prove that they had indeed survived the journey and made it to the new land or new home across the vast American landscape.   Genealogists love photos and often use them as clues when trying to determine the time period depicted.  Unfortunately,  most of these wonderful historical photographs are never identified and the only clues as to location is the name of the photographer and usually the name of town or city where they were located.  Those old photos will never have names attached and even though they may have survived a hundred years, it is likely they won't survive another.  Their destination won't be a dead album department, but more than likely will be tossed in the trash and sent to a landfill or burned in a barrel.