New technologies have now enabled people to recolor older family pictures at home! How amazing! Being able to see ancestors in color! However, there are pros and cons to coloring vintage photographs. As amazing as I think it is to "breathe" new life into older and black and white pictures, I can see a lot of problems with this too.
First, let's look at the programs. There are a lot of them. Recolored is a fairly inexpensive program that claims to easily allow the user to recolor older photographs. There are also Photoshop tutorials that provide step-by-step instructions on recoloring. There are even apps like ReColor that allow the user to choose the colors they want to use when recoloring a picture.
And it is in the choosing the colors for the recoloring that my main problem comes to light: you (the user) have to choose the color. That means that the colors of the picture become your interpretation of the figure. For me, this is too much of a burden. How do I know the color of the clothes or of the hair and eyes? This recoloring would then allow for a different interpretation of an ancestor. As much as I would LOVE to participate in something like this, and be able to look upon the faces of my forefathers in color, I don't much like the thought that I would be instilling my own interpretation into the faces of the past. I think that it might be better to leave these pictures the way that they are.
My mother and father went to Colorado for a Watt family reunion a few weeks ago. I asked my mother to please take a journal and record or have the family members record their stories for me. I was not able to attend the reunion, but I desperately wanted to collect that information.
My mother retrieved some amazing stories about my great-grandmother's siblings. There were also some pictures of George Watt that many members of the family were not familiar with. This picture was one of them, and although I have had it for some time, I have not been able to identify the people within the picture (aside from my great-grandmother and her father). Well, my mother was able to identify them at the family reunion! What a great find! I am so thankful!!
I saw this information on Yahoo the other day, and I thought that it was very interesting. I immediately emailed the links to as many people as I could. It is always exciting in my research to come across tintypes. Sometimes they are the only images that I have of an ancestor. There is something captivating about this presentation of an image.
The use of the tintype is nothing new. First used in the 1860s within the United States, this photography method developed an image upon a thin piece of iron. This durable imaging technology continues to be used in modern photography and art.
I have seen exhibits in art museums in which a modern photographer has developed his images using this technique. Recently, a soldier stationed in Afghanistan has started using it as well, creating a new interpretation of modern warfare. The images are startling in their intensity. Drawing the viewers’ attention to the unique highlights and shadows of the image; adding a sense of authority to the subject matter as well.
I am pleased to see this technique still being considered as a legitimate art form and method of photography.
Check it out: http://news.yahoo.com/photos/photographer-soldier-used-civil-war-era-technique-to-document-troops-in-afghanistan-slideshow/
So, I'd like to start this out by stating that human hair creeps me out. I would like to think that I'm not the first historian/genealogist to have this thought. A professor that I studied under first introduced human hair academically, if it can be introduced academically, through PICTURES of mourning jewelry. Later, I did another project on material culture, and creepy human hair crafts made another appearance.
Admittedly, I've Pinned a few pieces of old jewelry that have to do with human hair and they are kind of pretty and weird looking until you really realize that it's made from NASTY HUMAN HAIR!!!
So, now that we've established my feelings about the human hair - feelings that I am sure other people share with me - I will explain why this is relevant to this blog topic. My grandfather called me this afternoon. He said that he had a book for me, and as soon as he opened it to the first page:
So, I went over to his house as soon as I got off of work. I was expecting a county book - I've gotten a few of those and they are always helpful and informative. Well, I went upstairs and he gave me the book. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was an old photo album. He has given me some others, but they were not labeled (they started the Unknown Pictures page). I didn't really know what to expect with this one, but I love getting them and I love looking at the old pictures of the past!
I started flipping through it immediately, my grandfather standing next to me. Thank God for family history guru great-grandmothers! His mother had gone through and what wasn't already labeled, she tried to label. A lot of the pictures are of cousins and uncles, but there are several pictures of grandfathers and grandmothers.
In between the pages I found a special present:
HUMAN HAIR! This little bizarre (and a little nasty) piece of family history was tucked in between the pages. Now, I'm not sure if it belongs to the people in the pictures (one was a child and the other was a man), but I realized that human hair is slightly less nasty when it belongs to your family.
It was delicately tied with a little piece of string, and had been lovingly tucked between the pages. As nasty as I want this to be, all I can think about is the kind of love and dedication that went into preserving this little gathering of hair form 1887.
I went to my Grandfather's house this evening. We live in a community that is very supportive of its artistic community. There is a music club downtown that has a B&B attached to it. He had worked on painting their lions, and he said that he would really like to have this faith sculpture hang on the porch as well. I told him that I thought it was a great idea!
When we were growing up, my grandfather was very involved in making stained glass. He would often make glass windows for peoples houses. There are several in his house. He also made kaleidoscopes, and made a large one for the children's museum at our art museum. He made stained glass friendship crosses (my mother has several of them) and some glass sculptures. Tonight when he told me that he was going to move the faith sculpture to the music club and B&B, I told him that I wanted to take pictures of it. Well, I decided that it would be better if he described it to me.
He told me that when I was little I would explain what the sculpture was to him. I remember loving it. The colored pieces of class were beautiful. The soldered metal held everything together perfectly. Today, I had him explain the sculpture to me, and now I've loaded it online for you. I am glad to pass on this piece of my family history.
Earlier this week I started a Facebook page for the blog. My goal with this Facebook page is to allow cousins (and other's) to interact with pictures. I have a lot of pictures that don't quite make it to the blog - there are just to many for the structure that I am (slowly) trying to achieve. Facebook's albums allow for a place where the pictures can be stored in bulk and reach a greater audience (and hopefully some of the unknowns will be identified!).
While thinking about the response that I have gotten in the past few days about the pictures that I have posed to Facebook, I couldn't help but think how nice it would be to provide a way for people to interview themselves! I've got a lot of family across the country, and some of them I can't drive over 16 hours to ask them questions. This caused me to contemplate different ways that people could interview themselves.
On the Submissions page there are two interviews in addition to the contract information at the bottom of the page. These interviews are divided into early life and middle-late life. I would think that the only problem with them is that they are a little long. I would like to think that by dividing it up, the interviews are a little bit more manageable,and I think that they cover the main bases. I hope that people find it to be an interesting and appreciated edition!
When considering the possibility of mapping (or providing maps) of the places that are genealogically important, google may present one of the most convenient options. Google Maps provides interactive maps that are easy to embed in blog content. However, they are not necessarily visually interesting. Stamen presents another mapping option. Stamen allows the user to choose from variety of different map mediums. The one featured above is a watercolor variation. These maps are easy to embed. There are multiple options - watercolor, terrain, toner, etc. providing a unique look for your map!
These maps are also printable! It is a unique (and fantastic) op
This weekend we (my roomie and I) set up an appointment for our satellite provider to service our box. The young man that came to our home was from a neighboring town. In addition to the new box - which took some time to hook up - he also had to update the software on it. We talked for a little bit, and the conversation topic quickly turned to family history. He asked this simple question: how do you start doing family history? My answer: you start with yourself and you go from there.
I love talking about family history, and I am as interested in other people's history as I am my own. He said that he had grown up in a household with his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. He even had memories of his great-great grandmother! Immediately I asked him two questions: were these woman still alive and if he was a father. He said that his grandparents had been instrumental in raising him and his siblings. This man's stories were, quite frankly, AMAZING! His grandfather had been in Vietnam, his father was from Guatemala...he grew up hearing the histories of the members of his family - some of whom had been riders with Pancho Villa in the early 1900s.
We sat open mouthed, listening to his stories - the repetition of oral histories and traditions in the living room of our home. And then we did the next thing that we could do (and quite frankly, I fell like if we were part of some kind of obsessive religion we might be a scary converting force) we started talking about our own histories.
I have done recordings in my own family (and in the families of my friends) with grandparents just before their last moments, and they are some of the most precious items that we possess because it is through these videos and interviews that an individual can continue to tell their own stories - with their own voices - to the next generation. The longer that we talked to him, the more we stressed the importance (and the simplicity) of interviewing family members. We told him about great-grandparents that had ridden with Billy the Kid, who had invented machines, who had driven ambulances during World War I, and who had fought during World War II. We told him that now was the time to either have his parents and grandparents write down their members (because their handwriting is just as precious as their spoken words) or record them.
By the end of the appointment time, he left. He was happy to have shared his own history with us (and we were equally as happy to share our own history with him). It made me realize the desire to pass on oral traditions that our parents or grandparents or great-grandparents ingrained within us are not limited to our families. It seems that the people that I come in contact with constantly share (and keep alive) oral traditions. It always amazes me how family history continues to engulf vario
Recording family history doesn't have to be limited to strictly family history facts. Try to think a little outside the box. When I started doing family history I started by asking questions and recording the responses. The more interviews that I did with my grandfather the more that I realized that family history is not just about the facts: it's about the person and their experiences.
I also began recording the simple conversations that I had with my grandfather or that he had with other family members. I began to include other aspects as well - I had my grandfather read story books that he had read to us (the grandkids) when we were little. I started thinking about how much it would mean to me to have recordings of my grandfather reading the books that were so important to all of us.
As an adult, I have found myself reading these same books to the small children that are in my family, hoping to instill in them not only a love of reading but also a fondness for the characters that the authors, specifically Beatrix Potter, created.
Now, the audio file that I have included below is unedited, so you can hear the pages turning, but I wanted you to get an idea about this project. Oral history projects don't have to be limited to factual information. Ask your family member to read to you. Or sing to you (I recorded my uncle singing to my cousin and myself). Have your interviewee tell you some of your favorite stories. It's all about preservation.
Howmanyofme.com is actually a really neat little website that lets you see how many people share your name in the United States. You may (or may not) be able to use this with your own family research, but I thought it was an awesome database!
I actually found it through Claiming Your History by Tracy Whittington.
I love family history and the various ways that it can be approached by researchers! I hope that this blog is interesting and inspiring!