Florence and her sister, Elisabeth, pulled out two very old family photo albums from the attic. The albums were their grandfather's. Considering their age, the albums were in excellent condition, practically brand new. They contained upwards of 80 to 100 photos. The photos were a mix of Tin-types, Carte-de-Visites, Cabinet cards, and Card mounts. As I poured through this genealogical "Holy Grail" find, my heart rate increased dramatically and I believe my mouth was watering. Unfortunately, my hopes all soon started to fade.
Florence and Elizabeth could not name anyone who was in any of the photos. Now what? These girls and my grandfather were the oldest of that still living generation at the time. Who could identify these people? I took the albums home and photographed each photo with an excellent camera and zoom lens stationed on a tripod with black and white film. Scanners make this process much easier today!
As time went by, I was able to identify perhaps 20% of the individuals by comparing the photos with with pictures of relatives in my possession. I also brought these copies to all of the older cousins, No one could recognize anyone in these photos.. I was told that the last person who could have identified most of the people in the albums was my great grandfather's sister, Mary Koreman, who also lived in the same house on Morton Avenue. Mary passed away in 1962. Six years before I was born.
I soon realized that even today we (my family) are guilty of not writing the individual's name on the back of the photo. As we look at present day photos of our immediate family, we obviously know these people. But in 50 years or even 100 years, where will these pictures be and who will have them? Since this "heartbreak" happened to me, I have made an attempt to write on the back of the photo who the individual/s are and have mentioned this to others about preserving the identity of their relatives for future generations.
An excellent example of a Tin type photo of an unknown relative.
Could this Carte-de-Visite photograph be of the same man in the above picture? The photo was taken in Rondout, NY.
This mystery photo was acquired from a different cousin in the same family. This image was approximately 3" by 3" and was on clear glass. The above image was not visible until something dark was placed behind the glass. The image without a dark background looked like a negative. I am not 100% sure but I believe this may be a Ambotype from the 1850s. Could the man from all three photos be the same person?
As I acquire copies/scans of old photos, when known, I always write on the the reverse who the individual/s are with a pencil. This way I am preserving for future generations who these people are.