Photography

Postmortem Photography

It sounds ghoulish but many of our ancestors accepted the idea as normal: photographing the corpses of family members shortly after their death. During the Victorian era, such photographs were meant to be happy reminders of the life of the deceased person for their families. Death, and personally dealing with death, was prevalent throughout the entire world as epidemics would come quickly and kill quickly. Postmortem photographs not only helped in the grieving process, but often represented the only visual remembrance of the deceased and were among a family’s most precious possessions. These were often called “Memento Mori Photography.” Memento mori is Latin for “remember that you have to die.”

 

Mother and deceased child

North Carolina’s Brimley Collection of Photographs is now Available Online

The Brimley Collection is one of the oldest and most interesting photograph collections in the State Archives of North Carolina. The photographs in this collection document many aspects of life in the state between the late 19th and mid-20th century and include people both common and renowned, scenes of cities and towns, rural landscapes and farms, agricultural activities and products of every variety found in North Carolina, industrial concerns, and much much more.

The Brimley Collection is named for Herbert Hutchinson Brimley, the first leader of The North Carolina State Museum of Natural History. That museum was at the time an all-encompassing state museum that included history, art, and science. It later evolved and morphed into separate entities – the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, the State Archives of North Carolina, the NC Museum of History, and the NC Museum of Art – all of which operate under an umbrella governance and exist today.

You Can Help Fund the Work of Raleigh’s Photo History Detective

The State Archives of North Carolina collects photographs as an important and popular part of the Archives’ mission. Proper identification is key to their accessibility and usefulness. A significant number of the photographs in the collections are only marginally labeled, and some are completely unknown. The State Archives is raising money via an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the work of local historian Karl Larson, who is instrumental in the research and identification of the unidentified photographs in the holdings.

As of the time these words are being written, $7,267 has been raised from concerned citizens such as yourself. That is 81% of $9,000 goal.

Floridians: Share Your Digital Photos of Hurricane Irma

NOTE: This has nothing to do with today’s genealogy. However, Florida residents are invited to help preserve the history of the state and to record events that perhaps will benefit future historians and possibly even future genealogists.

The Florida State Archives is asking residents to preserve hurricane history by donating your digital images of preparation, damage, volunteers, shelters, recovery and other effects of Hurricane Irma. The donated photographs will join past photos of Camille, Andrew, and Charley as one of many hurricanes that have shaped Florida’s history. Some of the photographs donated to the State Archives will appear on Florida Memory.

Details may be found in the Florida Memory web site at: http://bit.ly/2wLmnCs.

The History Of Westborough – a CrowdSourced Collection of Historical Digital Photographs

The folks at the Westborough (Massachusetts) Public Library had a wonderful idea: let’s ask local residents to bring in their old photographs taken around town over the years and scan them. Then we will add them to Digital Commonwealth to keep these images safe for years to come.

Old Ford Truck – Click on the above image to view a larger version

The project apparently has had great success.

The idea of the program was to bring out the history of Westborough that is hidden away in attics, basements, or in plain sight, and make it available to the world.

Other Westborough Public Library collections available in the Digital Commonwealth include historical town administrative records, documents relating to Westborough’s participation in the American Revolution, records from the Lyman State Reform School, and a World War II Memorial Scrapbook.

Wouldn’t this be a great project for YOUR town’s library or historical society or some other civic-minded group?

Westborough vs Shrewsbury – 1939 – Click on the above image to view a larger version

City of Tampa, Florida, to Release Two Newly Digitized Historic Photo Collections

Here is a great online resource for anyone interested in the history of Tampa, Florida: As part of its annual Archives Awareness Week, the City of Tampa’s Archives and Records Division will be releasing two recently digitized historic photographic collections to the public. These photo collections have never been shown beyond the City of Tampa’s archives, and were not previously available digitally. Similar to the iconic Burgert Brothers photographic collection, these collections will serve as an important historical resource to both citizens and researchers. In collaboration with the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, the photographic collections will be available online and can be accessed on this web site: http://digitalcollections.hcplc.org/digital/.

Family Buys Hilarious Birthday Card for Grandpa, Finds Out it has an Old Family Photo

Family photos are where you find them!

A 12-year-old in Kansas recently found a hilarious card to give to her grandfather for his 74th birthday. The card had a very old-fashioned family photo on the front, with everyone looking very stern and serious. On top it said, “It’s your birthday!” Her mother also laughed when she saw the card. Then she stopped laughing when she looked closer.

A man in the photo looked a lot like her grandfather and of her great-grandmother. The family gave the card to the 74-year-old man celebrating his birthday. He got all excited as he realized the picture was of his father, his grandmother, and of a number of his other relatives! It was a photo he had never seen before.

Oregon Historical Society Adds Digital Collections

In 2015, the Oregon Historical Society embarked on an ambitious two-year project to build an infrastructure to create, collect, preserve and provide access to digital materials in its vast historic collections. This month, OHS announced a major milestone in this project, with the official launch of OHS Digital Collections.

This new website allows online public access to a rich variety of materials from the Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library, including items from the manuscript, photograph, film and oral history collections. Behind the scenes, these files are safeguarded using a series of digital preservation workflows, systems and storage processes called the OHS Digital Vault.

William Deming Hornaday Photograph Collection is Now Online at the Texas State Archives

William Deming Hornaday (1868-1942) was a journalist and Director of Publicity for the University of Texas. He amassed a collection of about 5,800 items consisting of photographs, photographic postcards, photoengravings and negatives.

This photo of the Alamo is undated but the clothing styles of the people barely discernible in the picture provides some clues.

Photographs from the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Municipal Archives are now Available on Flickr Commons

The Halifax Municipal Archives is a historical research center for the region of Halifax, Canada, which stretches along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast from the rural communities of Ecum Secum and Hubbards to the urban core of Dartmouth, Bedford, and Halifax.

Focused on the records of city and county governments from 1841 onwards, the Halifax Municipal Archives also has records from families, businesses, and community organizations going back to the 1790s, which complement the municipal government records.

While the Halifax Municipal Archives holds many documents dating back as far as the 1790s, the Halifax Municipal Archives/Flickr Commons web site contains photographs produced by the City of Halifax Works Department during a period of intense urban renewal: 1958-1969. These can be useful if you are researching twentieth-century Nova Scotia ancestry or you simply want to reminisce about the place where you grew up.

Recording the Locations of Your Family Photographs

When going through a box of old photographs or viewing the latest digital pictures on your computer, did you ever ask, “I wonder where this photograph was taken?” Now a free software tool can record the exact location of every digital picture in your collection. This includes old family photographs that you have scanned as well as new pictures that you or someone else takes with a digital camera.

This product will not do the detective work for you. You must still find where the picture was taken in the traditional manner. For instance, “Here is Aunt Millie and Uncle Fred at Niagara Falls” or something similar. You then scan the photograph, saving it as a JPEG image. Once the photograph is on your hard drive, you use this small Windows program to embed the longitude and latitude information into the photograph in a hidden area of the image. Once the information is recorded, you and future viewers of the image will wonder no more. Even better, with the appropriate software, you can just click on an icon to display a map that shows the exact location.

Panorado Flyer adds the latitude and longitude to any JPEG image, available to any EXIF (geographic-aware) program for future use. This is possible because Panorado Flyer takes advantage of the fact that JPEG image files can contain supplementary information (so-called Metadata).

The Man who Dresses Up as his Ancestors

Many of us honor our ancestors in many different ways. Peruvian artist and photographer Christian Fuchs is obsessed with his illustrious ancestors and spends months painstakingly recreating portraits of them, posing for them himself whether the ancestors were men or women.

christian-fuchs

The walls of his elegant apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Lima’s bohemian Barranco district are covered with paintings of his aristocratic European and Latin American ancestors. But if you look closer, you soon realize that many of the portraits are, in fact, photographs of the 37-year-old himself, dressed up as his relatives. The results are amazing.

Shoebox Turns Your Phone into a Scanner

Shoebox from Ancestry.com turns your iPhone or Android phone into a mobile photo scanner. You can scan your old paper photos and share them with family and friends. Shoebox’s edge detection and perspective correction technology produces accurate images of your photos quickly and accurately. The face detection feature will automatically find your family members so you can tag them in the photo.

shoebox

Dates can be manually added to your photos so that the information is recorded for future generations. After you’ve cropped a photo, you will be taken to a “Edit details” page. Use the icons at the bottom to tag family members, date your photo, add a location, and write your own description.

Early Victorian Photos Featured on new Website

William Henry Fox Talbot in 1864

William Henry Fox Talbot in 1864

The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné contains the complete corpus of the works of the Victorian inventor of photography on paper. More than 25,000 known surviving Talbot negatives and prints are now online.

The photographs are mostly from Talbot’s home in Wiltshire home of Lacock Abbey as well as from Oxford, Reading, and York (England) and a few from Paris, all taken from 1839 to 1846. In most cases, these are the only known photographs of that era. It should provide the best available views or life in those areas in the 1840s.

MyHeritage Launches Photo Discoveries™

I saw this demonstrated today at RootsTech. MyHeritage found a picture of my great-uncle. I had never seen a picture of him before. I think this is going to be big. The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

Exclusive feature delights users with photographs of their ancestors and relatives, added to their family tree in one click

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah, February 10, 2017 – MyHeritage, the leading international family history and DNA company, announced today the launch of Photo Discoveries, an innovative feature which transforms family trees by automatically adding matching historical photos. A Photo Discovery provides users with a set of photographs of ancestors and relatives they may have never seen before, originating in family trees contributed by others. Users can add the photographs to the matching profiles in their family tree, in a single click.

pr_photo_discoveries_final

Layered on top of MyHeritage’s highly accurate Smart Matching™ technology, which locates matching profiles in other family trees, and Instant Discoveries™, which enable users to add entire branches to their family tree in just a few clicks, Photo Discoveries identifies the profiles that have no photographs in the user’s family tree and provides photographs of these individuals from matching profiles on other family trees.

How to Digitize Old Photos with Your Android or iPhone Smartphone with PhotoScan

I wrote briefly more than two months ago at https://goo.gl/VxqVlx about the free PhotoScan app from Google. It uses your present cell phone to convert print photographs into high-quality digital images. I wrote:

PhotoScan is a new smartphone app used to “take a picture of your pictures.” That is, it will snap photos of all those old pictures you have stored in photo albums or in Fotomat envelopes. It will then create enhanced digital scans, with automatic edge detection, perspective correction, and smart rotation. Even better, it also automatically recognizes the four corners of the frame and displays circular overlays on each corner of the scanned image. You then point your phone camera at each circle, create a robust scan of the image, and PhotoScan gets to work from there.

I have used PhotoScan a number of times since I wrote the brief article. Now the How-To Geek web site has published a very detailed tutorial and has included lots of pictures showing how to get the most from PhotoScan.

ArkivDigital to Add Millions of Aerial Photographs from all over Sweden

ArkivDigital has acquired several million aerial photos from Svenska Aero-Bilder AB. These will now be digitized and added to ArkivDigital’s online archive. These images will complement the church books, estate inventories, military documents, court books and other archival records that currently exist in ArkivDigital.

“Our goal is to continually add new material and create new services for our customers to help them in their research. These images will complement other records in our archives such as the images of the church records. Through this acquisition, we will have millions of aerial photographs of farms, cottages, villas, petrol stations and much more from the 1950’s to the present day from all over Sweden,” said the company’s CEO, Mikael Karlsson.

You can learn more at https://goo.gl/C7EgYG.

The Best Portable Scanner

The article I published yesterday on Converting My Personal Library to Digital has already generated a number of comments at the end of the article and also private email messages to me. The most common questions are:

“What are your thoughts on the best receipt scanner that I can go between iPhone, iPad and PC?”

and

“What is the best portable scanner for use in libraries or archives where it isn’t convenient to carry a full-sized scanner?

scanner-appMy answer is the same for both questions: “Your present cell phone’s camera.”

Your cell phone probably is also your cheapest solution as most people already own a cell phone with a built-in camera of rather good resolution. That wasn’t true a few years ago when the cell phone cameras were lower resolution and produced somewhat grainy images. However, most of today’s cell phones produce high-quality 8-megapixel or even higher resolution images. My new cell phone has a 12-megapixel, phase detection autofocus and laser detection autofocus camera with f/2.0 aperture. It produces gorgeous images even when used close-up to the document being scanned… uh, captured. Most other cell phones these days have similar specifications or something approaching those specs.

How NOT to Clean a Tombstone for Photography!

Take a look at the picture below. Do you see something wrong with it? Almost every genealogist will cringe when viewing a picture like this one from FindAGrave.com. Someone apparently used a wire brush to make the engravings on the tombstone easier to read. AAARRRGGGGHHH!

sarah_spraker_tombstone

The above photo may be seen at http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=5240794&PIpi=42662882.

Using a wire brush on a tombstone or any other stone memorial causes irreparable damage! In fact, the damage is so severe that most states in the USA and also governments in many other countries have laws prohibiting such actions. Under the laws of many states, unauthorized tampering with or damaging gravestones is a felony.

Black and White Photos Reveal What Life Was Like in England in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

More than 1,200 black and white photos are published for the first time together in the book Lost England 1870-1930. Some of the amazing images show people dealing with the issues we still face today, including flooding in towns and cities. Others show factory workers, some of them children, lined up and operating huge machinery.

steep-steet-and-trenchard-street-in-bristol

The junction of Steep Steet and Trenchard Street in Bristol in 1866.