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Friday, June 17, 2011

Relative Roulette or Who Was That Standing Next To Me?

Last December I wrote Name Tags - What would Emily Post say? after Aunt Theresa's 100th birtday party. In it I lament the lack of name tags to help identify relatives you may never have met or had not seen in decades.

The party was a great chance to meet some of Chuck's paternal relatives and I made sure to take pictures of everyone. From a genealogy prespective it was a golden chance to put faces to the names in my database.

Memory Game - Family Style

It is amazing how the mind works. I was sure I would remember all the names and faces of the people I met but the minute I left the party my mind went blank! As I was downloading the pictures to my computer panic set in - I coudn't remember half of the people's names. Thank goodness Chuck's parents were staying with us over the holidays and would be able to help me identify the people in the pictures.

The next day I printed each picture on an 8 x 10 sheet of regular computer paper and laid them on the table. Chuck's parents, Chuck Sr. and Shirley, took turns looking at the pictures and in a short time and after a few friendly disagreements they had identified everyone.

Charles Mikulas and Theresa Steigerwald Steinkellner

Lessons Learned

As genealogists we always sigh when we find a box of pictures without names on the back or a date jotted in the corner. In the new digital age, we may not even have a printed copy of the picture!

I have started putting a 'Read Me' file in the digital folder that is created when I download pictures from my camera if the pictures are of people outside our immediate family. The file contains a quick 'who, what and where' of the occasion. I then list the 'name' or 'id' of the picture and who is in the picture. I also use this technique when I have been visiting a relative and scanned pictures during my visit.

No matter what method you use, be sure to write down the names of everyone in your photos. It may be obvious today that Aunt Ida is on your left and cousin Jimmy, once removed is on your right but will you remember that tomorrow or next month?

I just ran into those 8 x 10 sheets of paper while putting away my sewing basket! I had never recorded the names - I did not even remember where they were there! They are now in the 'to be filed pile'.

Take Care,

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