Posts Tagged genealogy

The 115 Year Old Collaboration


I wonder what my great-great grandmother would think about, had she known 115 years ago, that her great-great granddaughter would one day be carefully scanning her glass negatives on to her computer. We take pictures, share them with friends and relatives and usually give very little thought to generations in the future rummaging through stacks of unmarked photos, trying to learn a bit more about us and our daily life.

platesI have learned a lot about her, a glimpse into her personality and snapshots into the way she lived. Without a doubt, her skill and eye for photography comes through in the shots I assume she took for her own pleasure and experimentation. She loved light and texture and traveled by train to many locations to take landscape photos that pull you into the image. She was known in town as an experienced photographer of women and children. She adored her son, his wife and her grandchildren and their images show in many of the existing glass negatives.

I enjoy those negatives she might have thrown out, one showed her slender fingers imprinted on the negative, making me wonder if she caught the negative before it had slipped to the ground and broke. Others show her shadow, boater hat firmly planted on her head, which she would have cropped out when printing. You get a quick glimpse of her in another negative, her tall thin reflection appearing in the window behind her grandson.

To get the images scanned onto my computer would require the purchase of a professional scanner and hours of careful scanning. Internet research turned up a supplier for archival negative holders and boxes. Adobe Bridge let me catalogue the negatives for research and grouping. Each bit of research gave a sharper picture of this creative multi-faceted lady and the locations around where I grew up.scanning

After scanning and cataloguing slides I determined that I wanted to frame one for the house. The hard part was then to decide which one. I played with multiple images, cropping and sizing and purchased a wide format photo printer to see the results of the collaboration. The detail from the small 4 by 4 inch glass negative surprised me, and it held up when enlarged to images over 13 by 22 inches.

I chose a photo of the Olean, New York boat launch taken around 1900. The water on the river was so still that it perfectly reflected all that surrounded its banks. Mounted and framed it now hangs where it can be enjoyed by the next generation, a 115 year old collaboration of two related artistic personalities. Priceless.


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The Daily Dig

When I was little I thought that being an archaeologist would be a really neat thing to do. Then I learned about how much math and science was needed and being hot, dirty, frustrated and tired and decided maybe archaeology wasn’t for me. What I didn’t realize then was how many different ways there were to do historical research.

kids in yard

Now that I am older and completely fascinated with genealogy, I am feeding that enthusiastic archaeologist child in me with digging in my families’ historical dirt. I have been scanning glass slides that my great great photographer grandmother, Mrs. West, took, digging for clues to her life in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She adored her grandchildren, especially the ones that lived locally, which is evident in the number and creativity of the slides including them.

One photo stood out to me, begging for location identification. There were the grandchildren, playing in the front yard of a house, in what I was guessing was Bradford, Pennsylvania.

294 e main 2015 across street

I looked up the address of the children’s mother and entered it into Google earth. From the street view, I located the address and looked across the street to see if the houses matched the ones in the photograph. I had found the location, even though a couple of the houses had been torn down and a street inserted, three of the five houses still stood in the same place.294 e main 2015

I spun the Google street view around to see where the children would have been standing. With my mother’s memory of her grandmother’s house, we had the location. Even the electric pole was still in the same spot as it was in 1907, 108 years ago. From Mom’s memory, even the yellow paint on the enclosed sun porch has never been changed through all of the owners of the house. The sidewalk has been changed from wood to concrete and a railing added to the steps to the street.


She must have taken the photo from the enclosed sun porch of her daughter-in-laws house from the angle of the photograph, I can’t match the buildings exactly using the Google earth image..


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God Bless You

My husband came in the house the other day chuckling. I know someone related to you has been riding in our car, he teased. I looked at him, a bit confused, “why?”

“I found Kleenex stuffed in your car in the passenger side door pocket.”

Mom has moved in with us and it seems the ever running nose has been passed down through my mother’s side of the family. Not only do I sound like her, have her delicate digestive system and matching feet, but I got the dripping nose.

No matter the season and heaven help during the change of seasons, tissues must stand at the ready. I can remember my grandmother with her hankies stuffed in the pockets of her apron and housedress. Mom tells me that my great grandmother was also always in possession of a delicate cotton hankie in her apron too. I must say I am rather glad we have given up on that bad habit and the pile of dirty hankies for the laundry that would pile up quickly.

Kleenex won’t have to worry about going out of business any time soon. Each car has its travel box; the living room, bedrooms and baths all have their standing full boxes in preparation for that frequent sneeze. I buy bulk.

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