Sunday, July 6, 2014

Preserving the Faces of our Past

                   Andrew and Emma Anderson Family, 1937 
                          Back left:  LeGrand, LaRell, Vione, R.D.  
                                    Front left:  Emma, Andrew
I have been collecting and writing the histories of my ancestors since I was 14 years old. This has been very rewarding to me.

In those early years, I had to ask family members for copies of their histories and those they had acquired. These relatives often gave me the names and addresses of others I could contact for more information on my long deceased ancestors. I spent a lot of time writing letters to these people asking [or begging] for whatever information they could share with me. 

I remember my excitement when I received their letters back. Usually the envelopes contained something meticulously typewritten about the persons I had requested. All of this information was very appreciated and as a teenager, I probably did not give them the thanks I should have for their efforts. But even though I was grateful, the stories were sometimes just stories until I could attach a photograph to them.

My Grandma Harward was always a good resource for family history. On one visit with her, after some discussion about family history, she brought out a Polaroid camera and took pictures of the faces of her ancestors she had collected and gave me the results. 

In the 1970s a Polaroid camera seemed so magical!  After a push of a button, a small thin packet shot out from the front of the camera. Then after what seemed like forever but really only about a minute or so, one could peel off a thin sheet of paper from the packet and the real magic appeared--a photograph. 

This began my collection and love of family photographs.Today I have many thousands of photographs of family members which have captured them formally and in various activities. When I use my own digital camera to take photo shots of family members and then download them to my computer, it really doesn't take me much longer to get a tangible image than it did with Grandma's Polaroid.

This past winter, I received some amazing pictures of my Grandpa LeGrand with his parents and siblings. The photographs were very dark, and I tried to lighten them using Photoshop. But I was unable to lighten them and keep all of the other elements intact. I needed someone who could restore them professionally. 

Michael from helped me out with the restoration of my treasured photo as you can see at the top of the blog. I am very pleased with the results. 

Old family photos are so precious. I believe we should preserve them the best we can. I am so grateful others in my family have preserved and shared their photographs with me. I am also thankful for those who earn their living helping us restore them to their original beauty.

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