Not been able to do much in the way of research today as I had a visit from my in-laws. I had to be social for a change which isn’t the most comfortable place to be for me – I am most at home in the company of dead friends so to speak but concede that I need to spend time with the living also! (I say that tongue-in-cheek of course!)
Anyway, my mother and father-in-law came over to spend some time with their Granddaughter and I’m incredibly blessed in that my mother-in-law is another family history buff (I mentioned that my family has it’s lion’s share of these!) so when I married her son I inherited all the family history research that she had undertaken for their side of the family and instantly doubled the size of my family tree.Unexpectedly today, as well as the sweet treats and colouring book bought as a surprise for my daughter, I was given this lovely image.
You could have been giving me money! In fact, this was a far better gift than anything of any monetary value in my mind! Photographs are a real find for any family historian. For me, they bring life to your research and tell more of a person’s story than just a printed record can. They add shape and colour and life to a story and enable you to see a face and identity where before there was just a name. The people have long gone but live on in an image that intrigues and tells much yet hides so much also. Images invite you and tease you, begging you to find out more and to follow their journey. Even simple pictures of headstones do that for me! They shout – “I was here! I existed!” “Tell my story!”
Today’s technology gives longevity to dying, faded, crumpling images like the one above – ensuring the image is preserved long after the original photograph has disintegrated to nothing. It blows my mind that my children’s children’s children will have images of their 4 and 5 times Great Grandparents and beyond and know of them intimately as if they had lived alongside them. Unless you come from a very wealthy and documented line with lots of preserved images, there are few that can say that today. Photos are treasures and are to be treasured. Conversely, modern technology also throws up a risk that fewer images will become available as more and more digital images are taken yet never printed or passed down to the next generation or digitized images are passed on without any adequate documentation as to who, when and where the images refer to. Take advantage of the technology but use it wisely and properly – print an image to paper from time to time and record those details that will become invaluable in years to come after you have long departed this earth.
This priceless image is of my husband’s Great Grandfather John James Shields, born 9 Oct 1886 in Musselburgh, Midlothian, Scotland and today as his image was given to me to scan and preserve and add to the family tree his Granddaughter, my mother-in-law, told me stories of him and her other family members that are as yet unrecorded but they need to be. They were stories that are not recorded on any census or public record and so will be lost in time once no-one is around to remember them any more. Lost even to family who are directly descended unless they are preserved and passed down. The last census record I have of him was from 1901 when he was aged 15 and he was a baker’s apprentice and that was the last I knew of him prior to his marriage in 1910 to Christina Pryde Morrison, a beautiful woman. They had 5 children together and his beautiful wife died young at only 36 in 1927 with John also dying relatively young in 1942 aged 56.
I discovered today he was successful in becoming a Master Baker and owned his own shop and that my mother-in-law is in possession of his recipes and his invoices for the purchase of his equipment and I am bouncing at that news and a promise to dig them out for me when I next pay a visit along with further pictures of ancestors known about but not yet seen.
One final image for this family is of beautiful Christina with two of her children, daughters Annie and Christina, (Annie being my husband’s Grandmother as a child) and each of these three images has suffered over time and bear the obvious scars of a lifetime’s handling. How much longer would these images have lasted without modern technology calling a halt to their deterioration?
I come from a family that were perhaps precious about their photos and reluctant to share with each other, not for necessarily selfish reasons but out of a desire that precious images weren’t lost or damaged but now we can share them without that fear. We can pass our photos on without actually parting with our originals and everybody can benefit from them. When we share them, we share the stories too and the information that ensures the memories live on.