Winners of the Back to School Photo Contest

Winners of the Back to School Photo Contest

On August 30, we challenged you to dig up old school photos, improve them with the MyHeritage photo tools, and share them online. We received entries of all kinds from all over the world and we absolutely loved them. Many thanks to each and every one of the participants for sharing your photos with us!

We’ll announce the winners below, but first, some honorable mentions:

Runners up

The photo below comes to us from John Peterson of Nebraska, U.S.:

This photo was taken in 1912 in Geneva, Nebraska, and features John’s grandfather “being used as an armrest” in the middle row, fourth from the left. Too cute!

The photo below comes to us from Beverly Leeming from Canada:

Beverly writes: “This is a photo with my mother on the far left in the back row in her fourth year from The Argosy, the yearbook of Central High School of Commerce in Hamilton, Ontario in 1938. In the midst of the Depression, she was the first in her family to go to high school. She took the secretarial course as the quickest way to qualify for a good job and help the family finances. In May 1938 she was one of the top two students in the class sent for a job interview.”

Beverly included a quotation from her mother about the experience: During the interview, the manager asked if I thought I could run the machine. I said I was sure I could if I was given the opportunity of learning how. I was the lucky one who got the job in the office of the Hamilton Cotton Co. I started on May 8, 1938, at $12.00 a week, which wasn’t too bad for those days. My job was both full-time and permanent — not easy to come by in those depression days.”

So impressive!

 “I used the enhancer as the photo was very grainy and lacking detail,” Beverly writes. “Not needing much repair, I still used the tool to clean up the teacher’s dress and a couple of other spots. Zooming in, on the enhanced version you can see what a difference was made in smoothing out the graininess while sharpening details and improving the exposure. I’m very pleased with the difference!”

Vernon Cameron from the U.S. sent us the following photo, taken of his class in 1956:


“I am the one sitting next to the wall with my hand beside my face,” writes Vernon. “I was very shy and did not like getting my picture taken.”

Well, we’re glad Vernon overcame his shyness to share this beautiful photo with us!

Maria Adriaensen of Belgium sent us this shot of her father, taken when he was in primary school:


Her father was born in 1928 and was 10 years old in this photo, which means it was taken around 1938. His very serious expression in this photo almost fooled us — it turns out he had quite a mischievous streak. Mary says: “Now and then he had to stay in detention for naughty pranks…”

This next photo comes to us from Elizabeth Fisher, a.k.a. Eliza Jeffery from Australia:


The photo shows Elizabeth with her sister on their first day of school in 1959: “In 1959 I started preschool at Iona Presentation College in Mosman Park, Western Australia. In that same year my older sister Franceine commenced her last year of school, Junior Year, later called Year 10,” writes Elizabeth. “We wore the same uniform and 13 years later in 1971 I was still wearing it when I graduated High School and Matriculated to University.”

Here’s a photo of Elizabeth graduating high school in the same uniform:

Looks like the family took very good care of that uniform!

And the last of the runners up is Jamie Johnson from the U.S., who sent us two beautiful photos:


This one, taken in 1920 or 1921, features his grandmother Hazel Eckard with her class in Stony Run School in Pendleton County, West Virginia. Hazel is the girl in the dark dress in the middle of the front row.

Below is another photo of his grandmother, taken a few years later in 1924 or 1925:


“My great grandfather Arthur Eckard is the man on the far right and he was the teacher,” writes Jamie. “His son Vernon Eckard is in front with the baseball bat. His son Cameron Eckard is the tall boy in back second from right. His daughter Arline Eckard is third from right on the front row with long, dark stockings. And then there is my grandmother Hazel Eckard, second from left in the back row.”

Seems like school was quite a family affair in this family. Many thanks to Jamie and all the other honorable mentions!

And the winners are…

Our first winner is Mary Crawford from the U.S., who shared two lovely photos that come with a remarkable story about her ancestor’s determination to achieve an education despite the lack of support from her family. 

The photos depict Mary’s grandmother, Sophie Sieczkowski, who was the first female in her family to graduate high school.

Mary writes that Sophie was a first generation American citizen, born to parents who had fled persecution in Eastern Europe in 1887. “Sophie’s parents did not speak English and in fact they got quite perturbed when the children spoke English and they didn’t know what they were discussing,” writes Mary. She explains that where Sophie came from, it was considered unnecessary for a girl to be educated, because they were expected to have an arranged marriage at a young age (15–16). “The only thing women needed to know was how to clean, cook, and tend to children,” says Mary. “However, young Sophie had a dream. She wanted to be an educated woman and to become a teacher.”

In the early 1900s, children generally stayed in school until around eighth grade, if family circumstances permitted them to stay that long. But Sophie had other plans.

“Young Sophie hatched a scheme to tell her parents that the Nebraska law now stated that children had to graduate from high school,” writes Mary. The law actually stipulated that children must attend school between the ages of 7–16, and were allowed to leave early — at age 14 — if they were expected to work on the farm. But Sophie twisted the truth so she could stay in school. Her parents were not happy about this, and when her father understood that she would have to keep studying, he told her that if she wanted to graduate high school, she would be on her own and he would no longer be supporting her.

This didn’t deter young Sophie. She took a job as a domestic and worked for room and board while attending school. She graduated high school in 1913 in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Below is her enhanced, colorized graduation photo:

“Her post-graduation plan was to train as a teacher and obtain employment in a local school district,” writes Mary, and that’s what she did: she obtained a teaching position in a rural one-room school in Cass County, Nebraska. The photo below shows her standing in the doorway of the schoolhouse where she taught grades kindergarten through eighth grade.


Sophie went on to get married, have 8 children, and become a very hardworking farm wife — and she encouraged all 6 of her daughters to get an education and graduate from high school like she had.

“She worked hard to earn the money to pay for the room and board for the girls to live in town and attend high school,” writes Mary. “Several of her daughters went on to eventually take some college courses.”

One of those daughters — Mary’s mother — also became a teacher, and so did Mary, as well as Mary’s niece.

“My grandmother was such a clever and brave girl to tell such a fib and then to follow through to reach her dreams,” writes Mary. “She was such a determined and spunky young lady that I respect and admire! I thank her every day for her sacrifices and for encouraging all of her female descendants to reach our dreams.”

What a deeply inspiring story and such beautiful photos! Congratulations, Mary, and many thanks for sharing them with us.

Our next winner is Julia Claire Stafford from Australia. Julia shared the following photo of her at West Harnham Infants School, Harnham, Salisbury, Wiltshire, U.K.:


“The old Nissen huts which housed the school were left from the army base on Salisbury Plain  during World War II,” writes Julia. “Even though this photo was taken about 57 years ago, I still remember my teacher Miss Smith, who wore long skirts and rode her bike to school every day. My most vivid memories are of my best friend crying on our first day because she didn’t like the milk we had at morning tea time and lining up at the office to be given our 5-year-old vaccines.  Luckily I only remember the Polio vaccine, which was on a sugar cube. I am the child second from the left of the photo, the little girl walking and carrying a book.”

What an extraordinary photo, and such vivid memories! Congratulations, Julia, and thank you for sharing!

And last but not least, the third winner of the Back to School Photo Contest is Kathryn Archer (@that90sgenealogist) from Yorkshire:

This photo depicts her grandfather’s class in Goldthorpe, Yorkshire. Kathryn writes: “His father also taught at the same school and taught actor Brian Blessed during his time there.”

The photo truly comes to life when colorized with MyHeritage In Color™, right down to the wood grain of the desks. Amazing! Congratulations, Kathryn, and thank you for sharing this!

Mary, Julia, and Kathryn will each receive a free MyHeritage Complete plan. Congratulations again and enjoy — and thanks once again to everyone who entered for your wonderful photos.

The contest may be over, but you can improve your old family photos with stunning results at any time using the MyHeritage photo tools. Enhance, colorize, or animate your photos today!

Comments

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  • BB

    Barbara B. Glave

    October 1, 2021

    What a lovely contest! Thanks to all for having shared your family photos and histories.

  • JS

    Jacqueline Sutton Price

    October 1, 2021

    I enjoyed the school pictures! I was not aware of the contest, but I would love to share a picture of my Mother’s graduation with you from 1920. Is that ok?

    • E

      Esther

      October 3, 2021

      Hi Jacqueline,

      Make sure to follow our blog for updates about upcoming contests and MyHeritage news.

      Feel free to share your photos with us anytime!

      Best,
      Esther / MyHeritage Team