Mom looking at photo album with sonIt is so nice to look through family pictures! You recognize people from your past and reminisce about them and things you did together.  You and your parents, children, and spouse look at the pictures and laugh about the memories the picture evokes.


And then it happens. After turning the picture over to look on the back and not finding the answer, someone asks the dreaded question, “Who is that in this picture?” The laughter dies away and suddenly, the room is silent. After some nervous fidgeting, another person finally speaks up and says, “Well, they look familiar but I’m not sure either. Maybe they’re a relative. Or an old neighbor. Someone we went to school with maybe?” An unfortunate experience is when the people who could have helped identify who was in the photograph have passed away before you ever thought to ask about the picture.


Start going through your photos. Make a collection of all the photographs with people you don’t recognize. If you have a family gathering, bring the pictures out and ask people to help you identify who is in the picture. If you have duplicates or triplicates of the pictures, share them with others! You think I’m exaggerating don’t you? I’m not! When my Mom passed away, I inherited over 50, yes 50, photo albums! She would make copies of the pictures so I could have one and she could have one, plus an extra in case she wanted to give it to someone. I have sent many of the duplicate pictures to other family members if they or their children are in the picture. They have been appreciative.


People have different opinions about writing on the back of a picture. My personal feeling is that I’d rather have writing on the back than no identification of the picture. One suggestion is to write using a soft-tipped pen like an acid-free marker (you can get them at most craft stores) rather than with a ball point pen. Another suggestion is to write on a label or sticky note and then put that on the back of the picture. Write as much information as possible on the picture. Include first and last names and how they are known or related to the family. In the future when others are looking at the pictures, they will appreciate all your work, and in the meantime, you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that you won’t hear those dreaded words, “Who is that in this picture?”





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