You think you’ll always remember the people in the photograph and the event. Unfortunately, once 30 or 40 years go by, the memory may not be as clear or worst-case-scenario, you might die.
If no one knows who the people in the photo are, it becomes fairly meaningless. All too often, the descendants just toss out those pictures that are unlabeled. That’s really sad to see family history dumped in the trash. I see them sometimes in antique stores, shoved into a box with a sign “INSTANT ANCESTORS.”
It always makes me sad that some family has lost those images that are part of their family history.
(a mystery photo from our family collection)
Don’t let that happen in your family. For any photos, you print out, take some time to write the names and dates on the back. Additional information is a bonus, but at least get the basics. Don’t leave your digital photos without proper titles. Be sure to change the photo name from img_004 to something more meaningful. My mother’s scanned photos have fairly detailed names which has been a big help.
I’m sorting my mother’s photo collection which includes some that she inherited. She was pretty good about writing the names on the backs of them but some just say, “Ren” or “Harriet’s son.” I know Ren is my grandfather, Lorenzo Martin, but if I don’t write that out, will the next generation know that? The other name, Harriet, doesn’t ring a bell, so I need to scan that one in and see if my cousins on Facebook can help me identify it.
Gail Lee Martin wrote an article in 2009 about dealing with family mystery photos. Here it is, Using the Clues in Old Family Photos. You can save yourself and future generations a lot of trouble if you sit down now and label the ones you know.