Your 4th of July Memories | Some Thoughts on Visual Genealogy



Your 4th of July Memories | Some Thoughts on Visual Genealogy



QUESTION: So, just WHAT is the difference between these two 4th of July family photos???



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(Please click on either image for more information.)





Informal yet intimate portrait snapshots – check!

Casual setting out in the yard – check!

Loving friends and family – check!

Dressed for the holiday – check!

Flag in the background cuz it’s the 4th of July – check!


Yes folks, other than the style of dress (tasteful print dresses and white shoes on the left / beat up jeans, biker t-shirts and flag doo-rags on the right), and the fact that one snapshot is in black & white and the other in color, BOTH of these family photographs capture the EXACT SAME ELEMENTS of each of their eras:


Family / Friends / the Fourth / Visual Genealogy!



Great-grandma with her early amateur box camera, ready to capture memories of the 4th of July. You can often date old photos by looking at what people wore. (Please click on the image of more information.)



In fact, I’ll go as far as to wager that YOU (or your parents / grandparents / great-grandparents) have family photographs that capture the very same thing floating around someplace in your family’s collection of snapshots, photo albums and genealogy records (please click here to see our illustrated blog on “Finding Family Artifacts”).



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Fourth of July parade snapshots from Main Street, USA: c.1910 (on the left) / c.1963 (on the right)
Different, of course, but identical in spirit and purpose!

(Please click on either image to go to our blog on “Preserving Snapshots.”)



This is due to the fact that snapshot photography has its own vernacular “language” – in other words, many of our photographs and albums have a very similar look to them. Sure, the faces and places change from family to family (as do the cars and clothing or hairstyles of each period), but the “visual language” of snapshot photography remains largely the same across families, geographic locations, and eras.

Each of these photographs also offer some tremendous opportunities for “visual genealogy!”



Postcard-format snapshot of great-aunt Mildred from back in the day, as identified by her grandkids. Oh, and apparently the patriotic doo-rag NEVER goes out of style, folks. Just ask my biker buddies. (Please click on the image to see our fully-illustrated blog on “Postcards / Family History & Archival Care.“)



If you find yourself getting together with family over the 4th of July for a picnic / BBQ / or fireworks display, take a moment to pull out your old snapshots and photo albums and show them to different family members to help you identify who’s who / what’s what / when’s when in these old images (see pix above).

Voila! Visual genealogy! This collected family information will be a treasure for you in the here-and-now, and a spectacular record of family history for future generations.

What better way of celebrating the 4th of July than to do so with family and friends – those actually standing next to you on the 4th, and those who are in attendance through old snapshots!





Some random 4th of July memories to share this year (and some DOs and DON’Ts):



Photograph of a flight of biplanes after the First World War, spelling out U-S-A, c.1919.






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DON’T do this (pix on left), cuz ya never know (postcard pix on right)!
It’s always those small, innocent-looking firecrackers ya gotta look out for!

(Please click on either image to see our full blog on “Postcards / Family History & Archival Care.“)






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DO be part of a 4th of July parade (pix on left), and DON’T overdo things at the family picnic, like Junior here (pix on right).
(Please click on either image for more information on storing old photographs.)






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DO have a 4th of July party – large or small – complete with BBQ / clambake / music / motorcycle & Corvette show-off.
(From top left – Koch family 4th of July announcements & invitations from 1997 / 2001 / 2009 / 2015)
DON’T throw these “family artifacts” away after the party. DO keep them in the family archive (see pix below).
(Please click on any image to see our fully-illustrated blog on “Preserving Old Letters in the Digital Age.“)



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DO store your important flat stuff – like the 4th of July invitations above – in archival storage materials.
(left to right: Acid-Free File Folders / Document Storage Kit / Collector Grade 3-Ring Binders)
(Please click on each image for more information.)






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DO scrounge around in your collection for 4th of July-related artifacts and collectibles, and then archivally display or store them.
(left to right: old patriotic magazine illustration / signed art poster by renowned painter Ramon Santiago)
(Please click on each image for more information.)



genealogyDO store old magazines – like the one containing the patriotic magazine pix above – in a Newspaper & Magazine Storage Kit.
(Please click on the image for more information.)


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DON’T store collectible posters – like the signed Ramon Santiago poster pictured above – in regular old non-archival tubes,
as this can cause damage (see red box) when inserting and removing the poster.
DO use an archival Triangular Roll Storage Box instead. Easy in and easy out. Boom!
(Please click on each image for more information.)






Important pix in the family’s visual genealogy (see below).


The pix above is an old, one-of-a-kind 8 x 14″ photograph of fireworks, c.1970.

Now, is this the BEST fireworks photo ever taken? In a word – no (even though it’s pretty darn good!). BUT there is an important family history / genealogy story behind this pix. It was made by a man named Rich Klein, who had a passion for photography and who sadly passed away back in 1973 at the young age of only 20. This information is important to the Klein family genealogy, and “informs” how successive generations will look at this photo – all of which is worth remembering on the 4th of July (and forever after!).

DON’T let information such as this go unrecorded. DO archivally preserve images such as this in acid-free envelopes or enclosures, or display them by matting and framing them.





Lastly, genealogy is…well…genealogy!



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Have a happy and safe 4th of July, everyone, and always DO cherish your family and friends (and archivally preserve their photographs!) no matter how goofy they may seem – as they’re STILL part of your family’s visual genealogy.

And who knows, YOU probably seem goofy to THEM!





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