Rediscovering Grammie's Album

  • By Joshua Taylor
  • November 22, 2011
Today we feature a guest post from D. Joshua Taylor, a nationally recognized genealogical author, lecturer, and researcher. He is the VP of Administration for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and former Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Joshua has been featured as a genealogist on NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? with Sarah Jessica Parker and Ashley Judd.

As many of my fellow genealogists know it is my grandmother, Martha Jane (Allison) Taylor whom is chiefly responsible for my interest in genealogy and family history. Under her influence, when I was just 10 years old I discovered my first census record and quickly "caught the bug”. Over the years my grandmother and I have shared many research successes as we have enjoyed tackling our ancestry together. To this day she still remains my favorite "partner in crime" when visiting the Family History Library and the first person I share new discoveries with on my own family tree.

During a recent visit, my grandmother pulled out some of her most precious family treasurers - her father's coin collection, her great-grandfather's wallet, and her mother's album. The album, originally owned by my great-grandmother Golda Ruth (Brown) Allison, captures glimpses of the memories "Grammie" shared with me, beyond the birth and death date I have recorded on the pedigree chart my grandmother and I so carefully created.

While representing her memories, the photographs also represent my own memories - of sitting in her lap and listening to stories of her father, King Brown, and life on a sheep camp as a young girl. The album's first page includes a photograph featuring her parents, Nathaniel "King" Rider and Hattie Jane (Stiles) Brown seated together at sheep camp. Grammie aptly titled this photograph "At Home," illustrating her love of the place and family.

Grammie at home

Another favorite photograph includes Grammie and her two siblings, Hester and Clark in front of their home. Its caption, "three of a kind," brings to mind the adventures she had with her brother and sister while at sheep camp. Having a sister I can certainly understand the caption of "My 'ornery brother" Grammie gave to a photograph of her brother, Clark.

Another photograph, "Grandpa and Grandma '21," which includes Clark G. and Orinda (Pierce) Stiles reminds me of my own album, which includes a few carefully selected pictures of my grandparents together.

Now nearly 100 years old, the album is also full of unidentified photographs (some of whom my grandmother could recall) and many of its photographs are in need of restorative work. While the album represents a treasure for my own family, it also includes pictures of Grammie's friends and close acquaintances. Thumbing through the album's contents with my grandmother we both quickly realized that we needed a place to share the album with relatives, friends, and others who might be seeking its photos. We agreed that an online solution would be ideal. Tasked with placing the album's contents online, I sought something that would capture and preserve the memories the album represents, rather than simply reproducing each photograph.

Always up for trying new things, I decided to try 1000memories and quickly saw its potential for sharing a few of Grammie's photos online. After creating my own account, I created a page for Grammie and began to upload a few of the album's photographs using the Shoebox app. The process was straightforward but did require me to create my own rules and conventions for entering places and dates, in order to remain consistent.

In order to satisfy my "inner genealogist," once I had uploaded a few photographs, I visited and began creating Grammie's family tree. As I worked, I was able to tag and sort photographs by individual. In the end each person in the album will have their own page, containing photographs from the album. I can also invite others to add additional memories and photographs, truly creating an interactive page for each ancestor.

There are still many photographs from the album to add online, and I have only just begun rediscovering Grammie's album. My goal? To add as many photographs as I can by November 28, on what would have been Grammie's 108th birthday.

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