Photographs often provide genealogists with a
goldmine of information in their research. They can also provide a window
of opportunity to view your ancestors as real people in real settings.
Once you locate old photographs, you should note as much information as
possible about who or what appears in the photograph. careful attention
should be paid to facial and family characteristics, clothing styles,
jewelry, uniforms (military, school, or work related), and any other
miscellaneous background information that you observe. Sometimes, the
name of the photographer, and the date and place where the photograph was
taken were noted on the back of the picture.
Bring your photographs to relatives,
neighbors, or family members who are old enough to have remembered the
people, places, events, or objects that appear in the pictures. They may
be able to provide information about the circumstances surrounding the
photograph. Even if the older generations who had first hand knowledge
have passed on, the surviving children may be able to furnish important
details or clues on where to look for more detailed records, both primary
and secondary, to facilitate additional research. You might even find
portraits of your ancestors, or places where they lived and worked, in
public, academic, historical, or genealogical libraries or museums. If
they were prominent early settlers of a given area, you may find sketches,
photographs, and personal files in these same repositories.
Photographs should be organized in high
quality, acid-free photo pages folders, or boxes. Archival quality
materials are readily available at office supply stores, professional
photography supply stores, handicraft stores, and many bookstores. Keep
photographs away from light and in temperature controlled environments.
Remove family photographs from magnetic self-adhesive photo pages. The
image may stick to the adhesive, especially if the album was ever exposed
to a very hot storage place. They will also cause fading over time. There
is no truth to the claim that magnetic self adhesive photo pages will
provide long lasting protection.
Bryan L. Mulcahy
Fort Myers-Lee County Library
2050 Central Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33901-3917
Tel: (239)- 479-4651
Fax: (239)- 479-4634