Monday, December 26, 2011

Post-Christmas Presents: Ancestor Photos

I'm in the midst of finishing a new book to review, so you'll probably be seeing that shortly. In the meantime, I wanted to share what will no doubt become a post-Christmas tradition in our household.

Every so often, I alternate my framed photos and add a few new ones to my photo collection. This year, for the first time, I'm adding some photos of ancestors. There's something incredible about being able to look at a childhood photo of your great-(or more) grandparent. It's even more powerful once you realize that photo was probably the only one taken of him or her before their marriage, since photos were so expensive. I'm already thinking about how to find more for my collection.

How did I find the ones I have? A few stems on the family tree did take a lot of photos. However, some branches took almost none - and I've had to get creative to find what they did take. One of the best places to look is Ebay. Some antique dealers specialize in paper objects, especially photography. Try looking for the word "photography" and your ancestor's home town. This may yield only postcards, but often it will also return local photographers' work. Less known, but sometimes more successful, is FindAGrave.com. Relatives will often add photos to grave site information. Once in a while, historical societies will use this as a means to connect a photo collection with relatives. Take a look. You may be in for a surprise.

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