Friday, May 20, 2011

A few words instead of a picture

Family historians seek to associate a face with the stark facts of life they assemble about people of long ago in order to have more than a mere collection of names, places, and dates.  I love to find photographs of ancestors.  Today we can snap pictures easily on our phones.  Just a generation ago, this was impossible and for generations before them, well, photographs were not very common.  I have several unidentified older photographs of relatives (or dear friends, we may never know), and sites like ebay are filled with beautiful, old, and unmarked photographs of somebody's ancestors.



I am sorting through my finds in a family file from Morristown, New Jersey and was struck by a paragraph in a compiled genealogy submitted by the late Louis Cook in the 1970s and 1980s.  He tells the reader that there are few photos of ancestors before 1900.  This does not mean that I will stop looking and hoping for photographs.  It's as if he just knew that future researchers would want images for the names.  Not to disappoint, he provided us with physical descriptions to fuel the imagination.