Wow! That’s my Mum

That little brown photo album I mentioned before turned up a personal treasure and gave me a real ‘OMG!’ moment when I first looked  through it.  There was my Mum dressed up as ‘Jill’‘ together with her friend Joe Shepherd dressed up as ‘Jack’.  I already knew about Mum’s fancy dress appearance from an article published in the Eastern Districts Chronicle on August  14, 1925 which I found while searching TROVE,  but I never thought I would see a photo of the event.

I probably would have suspected it was Mum given the costuming but thanks to my cousin, her annotation gave me confirmation.

Jack n Jill Fancy Dress

Jack n Jill Fancy Dress

The article says:

‘An evening that will live among the pleasant memories of those present, was the occasion of the children’s fancy dress ball, held on August the 7th, in aid of the Church of England funds. The hall was very prettily decorated with innumerable coloured butter flies and greenery. The children who attended in fancy dress numbered well over fifty, and each one was a picture.’

The article goes on to name all the children and their costumes and includes:

‘a pair, ‘Jack and Jill’, Enid Dace and Joe Shepherd’

Sadly Mum died many years ago, well before I became obsessed with genealogy and digging up family stories.  I like to think she would enjoy these adventures and discoveries as much as Aunt-M and I do.

(The full text of the article is at: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148805869)

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A little brown photo album from Dangin

My 90+ year old Aunt-M finds my family history exploration very entertaining and is always keen to add to my collection of photos and stories.

She recently gave me a little brown photo album to scan created by her Aunt Dorrie (the baby in the pram in the header image above) in the 1920s and early 1930s.  Aunt Dorrie made some annotations in neat black ink and in later years, her daughter added additional labels in blue biro.

Many of the photographs are not annotated which is a great shame so we don’t know who, what or where.  Aunt-M did her best but she is 18 years younger than Dorrie so a lot of it was guess-work.  Some of the group photos defeated us completely and for others, the annotations didn’t help all that much.

But this annotation was very clear.

Edgar Taylor c1940

Edgar Taylor c1940

It has to be Edgar Ernest Taylor (1903-1995), the man who won Aunt Dorrie’s heart and married her in 1933.  Aunt-M and I think that the child in the front seat is probably their eldest daughter and that the photo was taken in Dangin outside Jamieson’s general store.

The album offers so much more to explore and I am very grateful to my Great-Aunt for leaving us this treasure.

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Fishy family traits and the value of newspapers

My brother is a magician when it comes to catching fish.  He just has to appear with a line in hand and the fish start to queue up to jump on his hook, biggest ones first. As kids our Dad took us out in a little dinghy at day-break to fish.  I caught blow-fish while Dad and Bro caught breakfast.

My own family regularly had holidays at Moore River north of Perth and one year Bro came up and we went fishing on the bank of the river.  We stood away from the main group of anglers and soon Bro was pulling in fish – sweet bream.  The other anglers moved closer to us until Bro was feeling crowded and we moved to where they had been.  He continued to pull them in, throwing back anything not plate size, while they continued to try and work out how he was doing it.

Well, it seems you have to have the right family genes.  While searching newspapers from the UK via my membership of the National Library of Australia, I came across this gem.

Evidence of fishy genes

Evidence of fishy genes

Mr. F. C. Hatfield is our Great Grandfather.  Now it all makes sense.  There is a fishy gene in our family and Bro got it!

National Library of Australia eResources are at: http://www.nla.gov.au/app/eresources/.  Instructions on how to become a member are there too.

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Postcards as evidence of family history

Following on from a previous post about the flip sides of images, old postcards are also great sources of information.  But some, like this one, just generate more questions.

My paternal grandmother died before I was born and finding information about her and her family has eluded me.  I know where and when she was born and the names of her parents thanks to certificates handed on to me but did she have siblings?  A postcard that was also among documents passed on, now scanned and safely stored, just might hold a clue.

SS Lake ManitobaThe front is an image of the S. S. Lake Manitoba, the card is postmarked Winnipeg Manitoba, franked on June 1914 and the stamp is Canadian.  Well that sorts out where it came from.  But who sent it, and how did she come to have this particular card?

The card is addressed to my grandmother, those ‘dear little ones’ would be my Dad and his sister. She says ‘my love’ so I’m guessing the sender is on her own. Zooming in on the scanned image and I can see that tantalisingly it appears to be signed ‘your loving sister May’.  Or is that Mary?  And was May/Mary a nickname anyway – Lily is my grandmother’s nickname, she was baptised Elizabeth.  Maybe she is a Marj? My Dad’s sister’s name is Marjorie, although she was known as Judy, goodness only knows why.  They don’t make it easy do they.

1914 Fmily postcard sent from Manitoba

1914 Fmily postcard sent from Manitoba

A bit of online sleuthing in Ancestry and I find that the S. S. Lake Manitoba took groups of young women to Canada as domestics under a group called ‘Mrs Joyce’s Party’ on shipping passenger lists.  Although this card is postmarked 1914 I suspect she came over earlier.  Maybe 1912 based on the Ancestry shipping records I can see without opening my wallet any further.  That she might have gone over as a single domestic makes me think she could be a younger sister.

More sleuthing led me to a Canadian website and scanned passenger lists.  Turns out that the S. S. Lake Manitoba made regular trips to Canada from the UK, very regular, and each with a large complement of passengers.  The lists are scanned but the names are not digitised and they go on and on, page after page.  Grandmother had a common family name which adds to the difficulty of making a definitive identification.

And all this assumes the sender was on this particular ship to begin with.  Maybe a friend gave her the postcard to use. So much supposition based on such slim facts. But it is a start and more information than I had before

Ahh the thrill of the chase!

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On the flip side of a family heritage photo

Can anyone remember 45s in the days of vinyl when the best song was sometimes on the flip side?  I find that can be true of old photos as well.  The front is interesting but the gold is on the back.

The photo below is one such example in my collection.  The Aunts in my family are a fascinating lot and this particular Aunt is a family legend. TROVE holds some wonderful stories about her and there are links to articles in the text below if you would like to find out more.

Louisa Caroline Harris (1870 – 1963) was my great grandfather’s sister.  Always known as Carrie in the family, she was born and raised in Stirling North in South Australia. She took over the running of the post office there when she was 16 and was postmistress for over 60 years setting something of a record.

Here she is seated in earnest conversation with a gentleman.  Who is he?  And what was the occasion?  Flip the photo over and there it is – some considerate family member recorded the details.  She is sitting with the Premier of South of Australia at the opening of the new post office.

Carrie Harris (1870-1963)

Carrie Harris (1870-1963)

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Scanning family 35mm slides

My darling boy only ever took slides and we ended up with a huge number of them. The collection contains everything you would expect – family events, holidays, house, garden, pets, overseas trips, and clouds – lots and lots of clouds, all taken through plane windows. The grand plan was that on retirement he would scan them all, sort, cull and do something with those that remained. He did a lot of research on scanners and we acquired a Canon CanoScan 9900F which would scan 16 slides at a time.

I could go on about what happened next and why but suffice it to say that I ended up doing the scanning and now he has 5,600 slides ready to sort, cull and do something with.  They’ve been ready for about 12 years. So now I’m thinking maybe I should sort, cull … myself.

Scanning slides is mind numbingly boring so I did scan a lot of them at lower than the maximum possible resolution to speed things up.  My idea was that during the sorting and culling the best slides would be identified and those could be scanned again using optimal settings.  I did say I scanned them about 12 years ago.  Scanners have improved since then.  But sadly the slides may have deteriorated further.

But what is life without a challenge!

Here’s a link to an article about scanning slides  (link opens in a new tab) posted in 2012 by Joe Hoover, the Digital Technology Outreach Specialist for the Minnesota Historical Society that I will definitely come back to.

Clouds over Kuching 1997

Interesting cloud formation on the way to Kuching 1997

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Photo restoration: Just because you can, should you?

Edit that is, digital cosmetic surgery on old photos.  There is something about an old photo with its cracks and fading that gives it gravitas and says ‘ I am old, I am to be treated with respect, I am history’.

But sometimes the poor old photo just yells ‘I’ve been woefully neglected and if you don’t do something real soon, I’m out of here’.  We all know that preservation of the original is paramount and Step 1 is usually scan it.  Step 2 is store the original safely according to the best archival practices you can afford.

With those steps taken care of, I figure the digital copy of the photo or negative is fair game.  It’s in my world now.  But I do adhere to the number one golden rule of editing an image.  Never, ever, work on the original copy.  That is carefully saved and backed up away from digital fingers who might want to play with it.

So how far should you go?  I try to hold the line at repair and restoration.  Go too far and the image loses its historical credentials.

Image before and after restoration.

Dad takes a selfy. c1925
Before and after digital cosmetic surgery,

Here’s a digital image I worked on recently. It’s my Dad as a teenage farm hand in South Australia in the mid 1920s.  The original, a negative, had sustained a lot of damage so I tended to that first and then did some cosmetic work on the little scratches and nicks.  There’s a lot more I could do but I think I’ve gone far enough.  I’m happy with how it looks now.

The photo itself has yielded two surprises – Dad once had hair, lots of it.  And, most impressive of all, my Dad invented the selfy!

Posted in Digital photography, Family photos | 3 Comments