Nostalgia: Old family photographs

Nostalgia: Old family photographs

A few years ago, my grandmother gave me a shoebox filled with some of her mother’s heirlooms and photos. I looked through it briefly, but had then forgotten about it until last month.

My grandmother had told me stories about her childhood, but these photo discoveries really brought my family history to life. I finally got to put faces to those stories I had heard over the past few years, and to see my family heritage displayed in front of me.

I moved last month. Although moving can be stressful, I was in for a surprise when I discovered a box filled with family treasures at the back of a closet.

Last week I sat with my grandmother and together we looked through these family memories. As we viewed each photo and heirloom, she began to tell stories she hadn’t mentioned before about the people and events in each picture.Old photographs not only bring back nostalgia for those looking back at their history, but can also teach the younger generation more about their ancestors and where they come from.

However, storing these precious family heirlooms stuffed in boxes can be highly perishable. Old photos can be taken from us via disasters, or they may discolor and fade over time as they are forgotten. It’s important to protect them and digitally preserve those memories.

Why don’t you upload, scan and share those family memories today on your family tree at MyHeritage? It’s a great way to grow your online family tree and keep them safe for future generations to learn about their family heritage.

Have you found any old family photos recently? What stories have you learned from those old pictures? Let us know in the comments below!


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  • James Jones

    August 21, 2013

    My mother left me several boxes of pictures family that covered early 1900 to present day. I value these pictures and am scanning them as I have time, but it is a time consuming job to do them correctly. I have started a blog where I post one of the pictures and tell the story behind the picture as I remember. I hope my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will enjoy these pictures and stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

    • Emma

      August 22, 2013

      That’s great James! It’s very important to preserve those family memories for future generations.

  • Janice

    August 22, 2013

    I think I’ve scanned almost every old photo I own! I think it’s important to do this even before you put them in a book, unless they already were in a book! It also helps you discover more about old photos. Some are very small images that, with your computer, you can enlarge and see more detail. That can be most valuable in looking for clues. Thanks for encouraging people to scan the photos – and it adds ~so much~ to your tree to have faces for the names!

  • Roy W. Cooke

    August 23, 2013

    Hi Emma, I am 72 years of age born 11th April 1941 and have been without a father since 1944. I was too young to have known him and was never informed of his whereabouts by my mother or my eldest sister who both knew where he lived. Unbeknown to me I found out by accident that during his last few years of life he had been living with his third wife just 10 minutes walk away from my house, this was about 20 pluss years ago. All I knew was that I had a step or half sister called Glenda from his first marriage, then in January 2013 I had an email from Perth Australia from a woman who turned out to be Glenda’s daughter and my Niece, from this contact I found out that I had several Aunties and Uncle’s whom I never knew off or their livelihoods. I have received several photo’s of my father and his side of the family I am glad my niece contacted me but I am sad that I will never have the finance as a pensioner to meet the family who now all live in Australia.

    • Emma

      August 25, 2013

      Wow Roy! What a fascinating discovery!!

  • Roy W. Cooke

    August 23, 2013

    I hope to keep in touch with my unknown family in Perth

  • Deana

    August 23, 2013

    My family’s photo’s had quite the adventure this year and I have been itching to tell someone about it so its great you made this post!

    My grandmother died in 2003 and most of the family photo’s had been given to my aunts who retired to Arizona a few years ago. My dad and I had often worried over whether or not he pictures had been kept safe, got lost in the move, etc.

    At the end of this past February, my aunts decided to move here to my hometown since their husbands had passed away and they wanted to be near extended family again. They stayed with my parents when they first got here so they could take their time looking for a place in a “55 and over” mobile home community. When my dad and I asked, my aunt said that she still had the photos and they were in the the storage unit. She’d been holding on to them and keeping them safe ever since she got them in case someone might want them down the road. I told her the work I was doing for the tree, so she decided to pass them to me. The next time they were headed over to the storage unit, dad reminded them to grab the pictures. They had a lot of other errands that took most of the day so we weren’t too worried when they weren’t back by dark.
    As Murphy’s Law would have it, they were in a car accident due to losing control on a slippery country road. Their van was totaled and one of my aunts was taken to the hospital for a fairly complicated broken arm (she had to have a steel plate put in)–my other aunt and their two dogs did not get hurt. Unfortunately, one of the dogs had bolted out one of the broken windows into the woods. My dad went to the hospital with the one aunt and I took the other back to a home near the scene of the accident since they had seen my aunt’s dog but when they tried to catch him he ran. They didn’t want to scare him so had waited for us to show back up. We called and called and he wouldn’t come and I finally convinced my aunt that we would have to give up the search until daylight. I tried to reassure her that he was probably still near that house and just too afraid to come out but I was honestly worried—he was a little poodle lost in the woods of rural Oregon. I just prayed he really did stay near that house! One of the first things my aunt said after she had calmed down some was “Oh God–we had the pictures with us!” Our hearts sank but we obviously had more immediate concerns to cope with. The dog search is a story in and of itself but the end result was we actually found him!
    With the dog safely home again and my other aunt scheduled for surgery, we turned our attention to figuring out who had towed the van. The tow company wouldn’t release the van or even let my aunt access it until she paid the $800 bill! My dad went down with her and informed the tow company that they couldn’t legally restrict access to the items inside the vehicle and we’d need pictures for insurance anyway. They took some photos for insurance and peeked inside. Amazingly enough, the plastic storage containers that had the loose photos in it absorbed most of the impact. They were shattered but as far as my dad and aunt could see ALL of the pictures were still in there! They said it looked like maybe a couple of albums may have been outside because they saw mud on them. Even though the tow company had to let take their pictures, they still argued about releasing anything other than insurance related information. Had it not been for those photos, we would have just said “keep it” but there was no way we were going to be that close to retrieval and archiving to let them go. The drama with the tow company finally played out at paying them $600 and signing over the totaled vehicle to them so they could part it out or do whatever else they wanted with it and we could take all of the items inside. My dad and aunt grabbed the pictures and whatever else wasn’t destroyed and brought it home. The albums that had gotten muddy wiped clean and the actual pictures weren’t harmed in any way! I am now in the process of scanning them so they can then be stored in a water/fireproof location. I am also looking for good resources on how to truly archive items so they will still be around for future generations—and am definitely adding this story to it!
    On a humorous note, my aunts’ last stop before the accident was to the grocery store to buy some chicken that was on sale. My aunt said “Yeah, I grabbed the food that was still good…left the chicken for the tow company though!” 🙂

  • Louisa Rinnan

    August 26, 2013

    My father passed away 25 years ago, and I never got to really know him. He had spent most of his life at sea,and when at home he was always a very stern and quiet person.
    I never really gave my family past a second though, but now growing older I realise what I have missed.
    I wish I had talked more to him and other family about our past and life. but then you can’t turn back time.

    Luckily I do have several picture albums that he left us,full with pictures of his parents and of his travels.
    I now look at them and I am seeing him with others eyes. As a person with fears,love and joy in life,and him being a child and young man! How I wish I could talk to him NOW about his life!
    There is one special picture I love and it really talks to me. It is one of his first trips at sea. In the picture that is of the crew,he stands there only 17,ready to conquer the world. But the part that comes alive is the BACKSIDE of the picture postcard.
    There he had written severals girls addresses, not so uncommon for a boy his age, but the funny thing is that faintly under the ink you can see that the card was originally written to his brother to send. Address filled in and he had written to his brother.
    Now I believe he had the card with him to mail it ,when he was onshore, but meeting these girls, I think it was more important for him to have something to write their addresses on,then to send it to his brother.
    What typical of a young boy,I never saw in my “old ” father.
    When i scan these pictures I always scan the backside as well,since they tell more about the picture.