I don’t know how she did it, but Elizabeth O’Neal hit on my guilty pleasure with the September Genealogy Blog Party: Lost and Found.
I have to admit that I get somewhat obsessed with trying to return old photos and postcards to descendants of those who are in the pictures or who wrote the cards. Some of the items I’ve inherited and some I’ve purchased.
If my husband is around when I am poking through dusty bins in an antique shop and I make a “find,” which I plan to buy, I normally get the eye roll and a comment along the lines of “a waste of money.” Not that my finds are more than a few dollars (never more than $10 and usually under $5), but my hubby just doesn’t share my weird enthusiasm for returning what I see as family treasures to rightful heirs.
I’ve written a number of posts about items making their way back home, but here are a few that pop into my head:
First Grade Class, c1904, Hobart, Oklahoma
My husband’s grandmother is the little girl marked with an X in the second row from the top, second child from left. I have the digitized image of this class and none of the other children are identified.
This picture was taken in the very early days of Oklahoma, before statehood! The local Hobart Historical Society was thrilled to receive it.
I don’t have an image of the second photo, a cabinet card, and I don’t remember the name of the family pictured, although it was inscribed on the back. The picture was taken in Olathe, Kansas and, as far as they and I could discern, there were no living descendants of the parents in the photo. As with Hobart, the local historical society was overjoyed to have a cabinet card in excellent condition that featured an early family to the area.
Fran & Doris (my mother)
In the summer of 1940, my mother spent a week or two vacationing in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and met a group of other teenage girls who hung out together. I have an entire roll of pictures, taken by my mother, which she helpfully labeled long ago.
Several were individual pictures of each girls, including a couple of Fran, seen above with Mom. Again, I had digitized versions of all the photos and the ones that didn’t have my mother in them were of no interest to me since she didn’t keep in touch with any of these people.
I found Fran’s daughter and talked to her on the phone. She was incredulous that, in less than 10 minutes of searching, I had found the daughter of an acquaintance who met my mother over 75 years ago. I offered her the originals of her mom, which she gratefully accepted, and shared digital images of all the pictures.
Prayer Card for Rose Marie Dzamko
I’ve even posted about some of my Nana’s friends for whom she had saved prayer cards from the funerals. I haven’t yet heard from any of those descendants, but perhaps they will find their grandparent’s or great-grandparent’s name in a search engine with a link to my blog post.
Lastly, I collect vintage postcards and when I purchase one that is signed or has a full name and address, I try to locate a descendant. Interestingly, I’ve completely struck out with finding homes for the postcards, because the original owners seem to have a 100% rate of no living descendants.
I guess as their estates were cleaned out, any collectibles were bought up by antique dealers and sold in shops or online.
It’s definitely my guilty pleasure, but it is so much fun!