Before Its

Too Late

written July 31, 2006

The topic this time is one that has been touched upon briefly here and there. However, it is one of the more important items related to genealogical research that unfortunately most people don't seem to be aware of the importance of; UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE.

I was recently contacted by a researcher that although her families "touched down" in Putnam County, the majority of her researching is currently done in Pawnee County, Kansas.

She had recently had what could be considered both good fortune as well as bad. Her query was in how to proceed in the matter.

Her good fortune came when an elderly family member gave her some old photos dating from 1870-1920 from in and around the Pawnee County, Kansas area. We aren't talking about 10-20 photos; she received a total of 795 photos in all!! These were photos of people, houses, buildings, town sites, etc.

Her bad fortune began when she noticed that there were only about 50 of them that were actually identified.

The elderly person who gave her the photos had a memory lapse in identifying any of the people or places. The husband of the donor who could probably have told her more about the photos was now blind.

Although the lady who wrote to me didn't know who the people were, she did know that they somehow connected to her family and didn't just want to get rid of them OR leave them laying around for her children to dispose of later as she strongly felt that they would do exactly that-- dispose of them.

We finally came up with the decision that she would donate them to the website for the Kansas county where they were taken. I might add that I had to literally beg these people to take these photos.

The lady that wrote to me begged me to make an effort to explain to others, just how important it is to identify their photographs now if they can. Photographs of the past are so very important to researchers-- but only if you know who they are.

It needn't be a tedious chore to do this, you can combine a nice visit with an elderly relative at the same time. Once those elderly people are gone, there will be nobody to identify these photos.

I personally would rather be able to say "this is my 4th great grandmother on her wedding day" then "this is somebody in the family, I just know it is, but I don't know who".