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2:02pm on Sunday, 27th July, 2014:



One of my wife's cousins sent us scans of some photos in the possession of one of her other cousins. They're quite a treasure trove, with pictures there of her grandmother (who died years before my wife was born) in her youth. My wife had never seen them before, so they were quite a find for her.

There must be lots of this kind of old photo around. However, to find them you need to track down some relative who inherited them. This means either asking them directly, or, for more generations back, seeing if someone on some genealogy site has uploaded them.

However, photographs aren't only in the possession of the relatives. They're also in the possession of the photographer. I wonder how many of those old photo plates have made it to the present day, along with some means of identification? I can imagine that many of the old glass plates were recycled or discarded, as they must have taken up a lot of space, but once the switch was made to film they would have been more easily stored. Most professional or keen amateur photographer are abasolutely obsessive about keeping and documenting their old negatives, so there could be large collections of these gathering dust in the archives of long-standing photography studios.

I wonder if it would be worthwhile for some of the online genealogy sites to buy up the rights to these collections and make them searchable? Or whether coverage would be too patchy and the metadata tagging too onerous to make it worthwhile.

It's a shame the Mormons don't believe that photos hold people's souls, as otherwise they might have built up a database of images while they were engaged in their parish records project...

Oh, this pic is one of the ones of my wife's grandmother that she hadn't seen before. No, she doesn't look like her...

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).