I think everyone has a natural curiosity about who people are and what they were like before you knew them – especially their parents, grandparents and other family members. From a young age, I loved looking through photo albums that told my family history. In many ways, I am fortunate to have family photos back several generations (of course really fun candid shots only date back to the 1930s). All of my great grandparents were long gone before I was born but I felt like I knew a little more about most of them because I saw them in pictures – except my mom’s mother’s parents. Great Grandma Ropers died in about 1915 when my grandma was about 2 and Great Grandpa Ropers died in the late 1920’s in a tornado and the earliest picture I have ever seen of my grandma was maybe high school graduation. I don’t know if there were more photos but it is likely they were destroyed in the same natural disaster that took my Great Grandpa’s life. My grandma rarely talked about her childhood, which I can only guess was too painful due to the loss of her parents. It would be such a gift, to be able to look at pictures and have an idea of what she looked like.
Recently, I was speaking with a friend, who told me that her sister was the keeper of her family photos. When her sister died, in a tragic act of grief her niece threw out all the boxes of family photos. Now my friend does not have any photos of her childhood to share with her children or grandchildren.
Tomorrow, I will be visiting my grandma (age 95) in the nursing home as she was moved there last week and we need to clean out her former assisted living space. I have most of her old photo albums at my house (for scanning and sharing) but look forward to looking through what is left with my grandma. She may not remember that we are coming or that my sister has four kids but she can look through old pictures and remember parts of her personal history.
Many people will say if they have to grab one thing in a fire or impending natural disaster, they often mention photographs. We now live in a time when it is so easy to share and save that nobody should lose their family memories in a natural disaster or in the trash.
Just a few ideas on sharing and preserving your family memories:
1-SORT all your photos in one place and ask your siblings/parents/cousins what photos they have, and who may also want a copy.
2-SCAN as many photos as you can! This can be a very long process if you try and do it on your own but if you contact a local APPO member that can help you through the process. Many, like myself, have high speed scanners and other partner with great companies that do a great job.
3-SAVE the digital images in a variety of places. DO NOT just leave on your computer because in case of disaster that may also be destroyed. I personally back up to an external hard drive, an online automatic backup and to different photo sharing websites.
4-STORE the originals. DO NOT throw out the actual photos after they are scanned; those are still the best quality of the photo. Ideally, they should be kept in archival quality boxes. If the photos will be boxed and placed in storage, at least keep in plastic, sealable storage containers that will keep out any water or pests.
5-SHARE with your family. www.getlinea.com/ is a great site for sharing photos because others can add photos to the “line” you started. There are so many great ways to share your photos – talk with a Personal Photo Organizers for ideas on what is best for you.
Lisa Tonjes Moritz is a Professional Organizer who has been helping others organize their space or events for since she was a teenager.
In 2007, Lisa turned her hobby into a business, HOPE Organizing in Omaha, Nebraska. Her mission is to give her clients Hope by making their busy lives easier. Her organization saves clients time so they can spend time with their favorite people or doing the things they love, instead of fighting the clutter. Lisa joined APPO in 2012 because she has always been fascinated by photos and the stories they tell.
Great article Lisa! You have said it all, and in such a personal way, to get others to understand what is out there to help, and how important our memories are to others!
My brother that has Downs Syndrome who has lost a lot of family and friend photos in the Joplin Mo tornado in the year 2011 from the F5 tornado that destroyed his duplex directly across the west side of the road from Mercy ( St. John’s ) .