11 October 2007

Could this happen to your research?

Have you thought about what will happen to your genealogical papers and photographs in the future?

Do each of us have a plan for the disposition of our family history archive? Will our work go to a specialized archive, a genealogical society, a library? Are we sure the destination selected will accept our material?

Maureen Taylor writes the Photo Detective blog for Family Tree magazine. An expert on analyzing old photos for genealogical and historical clues, she brought up a valid point in a recent post, "Could this happen to your family history treasures?"

Before diving into this week’s identification, I have a question for you: Have you specified in your will who’ll receive your heritage photos after you’re no longer here? If not, your relatives could find themselves in a battle.

Carolanne, the owner of this week’s photo, has spent 17 years trying to gain ownership of her great-aunt’s pictures and family history materials. When Addie Mattilda Weed died in 1990 at age 106, the tenants in her house gave her manuscripts to a university and kept her photos.

Carolanne, Addie’s closest living relative, finally got the photos, but she’s still battling the university — which currently expects her to pay even to copy the papers. So, make sure you’ve planned for the future of your genealogy collection.

Read the posting for Taylor's analysis of two of the hard-won photographs in question, as she ascertains when the images were created and their format. Here's a snippet of how she does it.

From about 1869 to 1875 women wore high, ruffled collars, long curls and ties at the neckline just as in this portrait. Notice her neck ribbon. Since Gilman and Weed married in 1873, it’s possible this is an engagement or wedding portrait.

Read more here.

Taylor has authored several useful books on dating old photographs, see the website for more details and check the blog archives for many tips and strategies to understand the clues in these images.

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