Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Who lurks in your family photos?

Family photos tell stories...

Even those who have only a passing interest in the family history can at times be found pouring over old photos. Although I am not into the whole process,I am delighted that my mother kept old pictures (and labelled them) and also wrote stories about her Nova Scotia childhood.

A sketch from a photo of my grandmother's Sherbrooke house.
It is difficult to describe how I feel when I look at those pictures. They are a window into a life I've heard about. And seeing the family resemblances creates a link, a connection and a sense of continuity. My mother and five of her six siblings are no longer with us. And the previous generations are long gone and buried. But the photos give me a bridge to forgotten people and places.

I look at photos from my mother's collection, check the names and remember visiting my mother's Aunt Libby or Aunt Mary, women that to me were old and smelled of cookies, lavender and roses.

I was reminded that Aunt Mary had seven sons, a fact that lay buried deep in my childhood. And two of them were twins. A precursor perhaps for the several sets of twins now in the family.

I see photos of sea captains, lawyers, professors, mothers, ministers, farmers and more. The complex lives that built our family and our country.

We seem to have a fascination with looking like our ancestors.

"Oh my, little Donnie 

looks just like Uncle John." 


The resemblance may be to others in the family as well. Although as a little girl, I apparently cried when told I looked like my Aunt Nettie. At the time she looked OLD to me and I wasn't impressed.

Do you have old family photos?  Is there an ancestor you resemble?
And why do you think we want to know about those who have come before us in the family?




  1. Hi Mahrie, This post has reawakened my nostalgia for family albums. While most of them are up in Sudbury, I do have several in my storage area. Great pastime for the next rainy day. Joanne :)

  2. For me, I feel that knowing my past helps me understand - and appreciate - my present. I'm in awe of the courage and imagination of some of my ancestors. I just wish I'd asked more questions when family members who could have answered them were alive. And yes, I look like my grandmother!