I am the keeper of boxes of family history records.
Photographs, newspaper clippings, letters and note books filled with names and dates.
When I say boxes, I mean quite literally boxes & boxes. I have 25 boxes in my loft containing hundreds of items belonging to both my immediate and extended family.
My parents were very keen family historians, but the challenge of making sense and organising so many documents and pictures was too much, even for them.
So the responsibility has fallen to me.
I have spent hours in the past reviewing the photographs in particular. Trying to identify the members of my family.
I think I have quite a talent for really seeing people now. My work as a photographer has meant that I know faces. I have trained myself to see the details and over the years I have learned to then see those faces as real people with lives and a history.
The task of sorting boxes of photographs can be very overwhelming. I thought I would share my family history journey with you and hope that by sharing some of the things that have helped me, we can feel a little less overwhelmed together.
First let me share with you some pictures of my wonderful Granny & Grandpy Allen – Beatrice & Henry. They are my great grandparents.
They were the parents of three children – a son, Ivor and twin girls Nancy & Lynn. My grandmother is Nancy.
My Grandpy passed away before I was born, but I did meet my Granny Beatrice, and I have some sweet letters she wrote to my mother congratulating her on my birth. Those letters are so precious to me.
Though we never really knew each other, I love these two wonderful people. I know a little about their lives. But I especially love seeing their sweet faces.
I have a beautiful collection of images that I have now gathered together. Some came from my mother, some from my grandmother, and some from her sister my great aunt Lynn. It is an honour to be entrusted with the gathering and preservation of such beautiful images.
The first step in my family history journey has been to gather & sort. I purchased some inexpensive a4 boxes for all of my photographs to be stored in whilst I sort. It is really helpful to have a designated box for each family group.
Once I decide on which family the pictures belong too, I then group them according to individual family member. I simply get out all of the pictures and place them in piles. Each pile of images is then placed in a plastic wallet or sandwich bag ready to be sorted further. I write on the plastic wallet with permanent pen the name of the individual and their relationship to the family. Doing this means that if I am unable to work on my family history pictures for several months I can immediately get up to speed and do not have to spend ages trying to work out who everyone is.
Keeping things organised in this way makes it so much more manageable. And managed and organised means less overwhelming.
Once I have grouped pictured by individual, I can then organise them further by date or by periods in their life – young years, teen years, dating or courting, marriage, young married, older married, grandparents.
I am lucky to have images of my Granny & Grandpy spanning their whole lives together. I particularly love the images from their wedding day.
Wedding day pictures are so incredibly important as they document the merging of two families into one and will often feature the most significant people within the family – parents, grandparents etc.
I was deeply saddened to find that one of the images of my beautiful great grandparents wedding day had not aged well, and had sustained a lot of damage.
Several years ago I had tried to repair the picture, but without success. I felt at the time that I just didn’t have the time or the skills to fully restore it.
Last week I was contacted by the company Repixl offering their services, they specialise in professional photo editing. I was delighted to get their email and knew immediately that I wanted them to work on the image of my great grandparents.
The image was particularly difficult to restore due to the positioning of the damage on my granny’s face as it spans her forehead, eyebrows, eyes and nose. These are defining features and any slight wrong adjustments can look really distorting.
Repixl did a great job, and after several re-edits finally provided me with an image I was really pleased with. The turnaround time was really impressive and I was so pleased with their customer service as they were only a quick email away.
I am really excited to be able to place the original and restored Repixl image side by side in my album of Granny & Grandpy’s pictures.
I have since become an affiliate of the Repixl company. This means that I receive a small amount of income for anyone I refer who uses their services. I am more then happy to endorse the work they do and the service they provide. I will be using it myself many more times as I continue my family history journey.
You can find their link in the side menu bar of the blog if you are interested. If you have any old images that you need restoring, don’t hesitate to give it a try. They not only restore old photographs but can give any image a little boost, whether it’s an image to be placed on the internet, or a fix dull looking favourite.
Knowing about Repixl and the excellent work they do in restoring photographs has kick-started me into looking again at those boxes of images in my loft. I no longer want to be just a keeper of family history documents, but someone who really works hard to preserve and share those precious items with other family members. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you.