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27 July 2011

SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

     I was packing my small collection of medieval manuscript pages for my upcoming move, and I thought of genealogy. (Almost anything can produce thoughts of genealogy among the obsessed!!). These pages were written long before photography, but the monks did not simply copy reams of text. They added illustrations in the borders, or made fancy letters with vivid colors, or added gold for glitter--anything to attract the eye to the page. This "eye appeal" is important in genealogy also. I have found that the best way to engage my relatives in the family history is with photographs. Their eyes glaze over when I show them my charts and records, but pop a photo or two in the mix, and their eyes light up!  What's the quickest way to get a crowd around you at a family reunion?  Bring a photo album!

My dad James Large and me about 1957
     I know what many readers are thinking: "Fine advice, that, if only I possessed photographs of my ancestors!"
     I am in the same boat. My parents did not own a camera. The dearth of my own childhood photos has made me treasure those photos and home movies I have been able to obtain from other relatives. Luckily, sharing photographs and home movies has never been easier. (The main problem today is getting obstinate relatives to share--the excuse of not wanting to allow the photographs themselves to "travel" is no longer valid, but some people are still stingy about sharing, even of copies over the Internet. It is one of the most common complaints I hear.).

my great grandmother
Mary Ann Tracy Magee
and my Grandmom May
Magee Large
      When I don't have a photo to "spice up" my charts or books, I try to include photos of places and buildings that were important to the family history. Churches, workplaces, local parks, houses,
schools, cemeteries are all suitable subjects to be included in a visual family history. Check out sites like eBay that sell postcards. Postcards are great visuals to spice up your family history book or collection.
     Posting photographs on the Internet is a growing branch of genealogical research. For some time now, some Jewish genealogy groups have posted virtual "walls" of photographs to help identify Holocaust victims and survivors. Other genealogy groups also have "walls." The Irish Genealogical Project has photo pages, too. Check out some of the links below. You might find an ancestor one day.
LINKS
DEAD FRED GENEALOGICAL PHOTO ARCHIVES  This site is a "MUST visit" for family historians. Dead Fred has a searchable database of identified and mystery photographs. You just might have a cousin who posted an ancestor's photo. Check it out!
SUBMIT PHOTOS TO THE IRISH GENEALOGICAL PROJECT  and don't forget to search your county of origin for photos
ARCADIA PUBLISHING publishes local history books, most of them chock full of photographs. While I have yet to find an ancestor in one, I have found photos of a priest who performed some of their weddings, and of street scenes where they resided. (Please note, I do not have any interest, financial or otherwise, in Arcadia Publishing. I am merely a purchaser of their books).
YAD VASHEM PHOTOGRAPH ARCHIVE strives to remember and to identify victims of the Holocaust through photographs
JOURNEY TO RECITE THE KADDISH IN UZLYANY  is the blog I keep for my husband's Fox ancestors. I have incorporated photographs into the blog.
GENEABLOGGERS Many of the bloggers who belong to this genealogy blogging group post photographs on "Wordless Wednesdays."  If you go to the main page on a Wednesday, and scroll down the page, there is usually a list of "wordless" bloggers.