Ancestors, Legends & Time

Please, get caught up with your family photos

Jeanne Newby

Preserving your family history is very important. I have mentioned the importance of journals and writing down family stories to be shared with your children and grandchildren. Stories that seem rather boring to you may be a treasured memory to later generations. The other main preservation is pictures… a precious link in preserving family history.

My sister, Gloria, and I have tried to scan every picture our mother had in boxes and albums. Some of the pictures are too blurry to make out the identity of the subject or just show the back of the head. We have pictures of mountains from a distance or pretty houses that we have no idea why she took the picture. We have weeded through and decided the importance of each picture. We have scanned over 2,000 pictures.

We are grateful for the pictures with information that she wrote on the back. She did pretty well, but there are still quite a few unidentified. Family members from past generations that lived in her home state of Alabama are a challenge, but Gloria and I are avid genealogists and that helps. 

We put those pictures on DVDs to give to each of our siblings. As we scanned them, we put the pictures in boxes to give the actual pictures to each sibling that was the subject matter. I do not know if the family members appreciate all the work we have gone through, but we know we have done our best to preserve family memories.

As we have been going through the pictures, memories long forgotten resurfaced; memories of importance, memories of silliness, and some that bring a tear to the eye. It helped us realize which of the siblings were good at sharing pictures with mom and those who just didn’t get around to sending the school pictures or vacation shots. We have also included pictures of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to share the pictures.

Gloria has even taken on the challenge of scanning all of Mom’s journals to give each sibling a copy. This is where the memories really come to light. Mom wrote down many important events that we had not seen as important enough to treasure but have become very important to us now.

Mom and Dad used to leave little love notes on the kitchen table as they both had to go out of town quite often with their businesses. Dad would write loving sentiment but always with a touch of humor. One note had him saying he was running off with the maid because her biscuits and sausage had lured him to leave. Mom was the cook he was so in love with so we knew he was being ornery. We have scanned all those little notes for future generations.

We have designated a younger sister to be in charge of Mom’s 18 years with Tupperware. My brother is in charge of Dad’s championship boxing. I have taken over the 20 years Mom was on the Park Board and her modeling. Gloria and I have taken over the genealogy records. Each is an important part of Mom’s life.

I don’t expect you to go into a project as detailed as Gloria and I, but I do think we need to take time to identify family members in our photographs. While watching television or during a quiet evening, just go through a few pictures at a time and write on the backs or attach labels. Your children will appreciate it in the long run.

So many times I have purchased pictures at rummage sales where photos have been tossed aside. Pictures of family importance are often lost because they don’t have a name to go with the picture. Slides are often lost in the shuffle because a slide projector has been misplaced or sold. Slides can be preserved by changing them into photos. Slides are such good memories of vacations, events, weddings, etc. There are companies who convert slides, pictures, and family movies into a DVD. What a wonderful way to preserve memories.

Not to preach at you, but please take a few minutes at a time to get caught up on your family photos. Write a journal; it is never too late! Share a few family stories with future generations. My New Year’s promise is to write one favorite family memory each night. By the end of the year, I should have enough memories to preserve a book for future generations. Some of them are so funny and some bring a tear. Just one story a day will get you started without too much effort!

Jeanne’s new book, “The Zinc City, Webb City, Missouri” is now available at Webb City Chamber office and other local retailers, such as Maggie Jane’s Gifts, at 8 S. Main St.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.