I wrote so much about the encounter with a group of old photo albums in my last post that I didn’t have time to discuss the photo project I started working on. In light of how those old photo albums were treated, I took another look at more recent family photo artifacts. My children’s paternal great-grandmother passed away in 2001. Like with my grandparents, during visits I would often sit with Granny Westfall and go through her photo albums and quiz her about family history. After her death, one of her sons lent me her albums to go through. There’s about six or seven old “magnetic” photo albums that are filled with snapshots and other photographs mostly of her children and their children. She had ten children altogether and most of them went on to rear families so she had a lot of descendants. I was touched to see in one album where she carefully added the first photograph of my oldest child along with the birth announcement I sent to her.
In a few places, some photos had already been removed when I got the chance to go through them. Again, someone likely took them because of their connections to that part of the family history. Maybe it was their baby photos. And to confess, when I first got the albums, I started going through them for the oldest known photos to add to my family files. But I realized that the order and arrangement that they were in were important as well. For instance, Granny had systematically put together this collage of photos of her late husband in one of the albums.
Some are these are pretty old including a school photo of him as a boy. Since he was a direct ancestor, I was interested in those. Instead of just taking them out of the album for my family files, I decided to scan a copy of the photo album page first and then take it apart. These more historical photos need to be better preserved as Granny had put the collage together using scotch tape. Scotch tape is not archival-friendly and the chemicals will eventually eat away at these rare images. But I want her descendants to know how she honored the memory of her husband with the page she created.
And someday the other images will be rare and I think it will be important to share them in their entirety so I have started scanning each album page by page. I’m hoping that each individual photo in each of the album pages can later be cropped for printing individually as well without having to rescan them. There are seven albums altogether. I have one completely finished and it didn’t really take that long. I worked on it perhaps two hours or less. One of the albums is all about her trip to Germany and I may leave out the tourist-y ones. Wish me luck!