Genealogy Tip o’ the Day: Double Check Those Wedding Photos!
Just a few days ago my cousin, bless his heart, took time while he was on a well needed vacation far from the snow on a southern beach to plow through some old photo albums and scrapbooks to find some family pictures he thought I might find of interest.
First let me say as a genealogist I rarely encounter a photo I am not interested in so naturally I found the slew he sent me just slightly beyond marvelous.
Second let me say another thank you to his wife and him for their time off the beach to do me such a favor.
Third, I owe a belated thank you to my aunt and great-aunt for putting so many names, dates, events, and places on the photos.
But there is one wonderful photo that has no date, location, nor names on it. You can see this photo below and click on it to get a full size image to open.
As you can see it is a wedding picture. The wedding is of my aunt and uncle. This aunt and uncle were among my very favorite relatives as well folks I spent a great deal of time with over the years of my childhood, youth, and into young adulthood.
It was easy to identify my great-aunt and great-uncle and tell that this was their wedding. From their marriage license I was able to confirm the date of the photo.
But it stopped right there.
I swear I could hear the pain in my cousins’ voices when I read the note he attached. It stated:
“We have no idea who the people are in this photo beyond my grandmother and grandfather.”
So here we have a picture of one of the most important days in the lives of these two people, surrounded by some of whom we imagine are the most important folks in their lives…and we have no idea who they are.
My own disappointment and pain increased when I quickly realized that there was not a single member of these folks’ generation alive in our family, nor are they any alive right now from the subsequent generation. The thought flew through my head that if only I had seen this photo before my mom passed away I know she would have been able to fill in the name of every person and provide some stories about them to go along just for fun and good measure.
But not now.
I have searched local newspapers for any mention of the wedding and there were no stories nor articles about it.
That is when the next thought struck me. I went to my wife’s and my wedding album and found our photograph of the entire wedding party. I flipped it over only to see blank, white paper looking back at me. I realized I was guilty of the same sin of omission that my great aunt and uncle had been. Within an hour we had sat down with our album and noted every person in every photo that we could, starting with the formal wedding party shot, where we also added why each individual was in our wedding party. After all, my wife and I knew the third bridesmaid was her best friend since junior high school. We were not so sure if our children and their children would.
Thankfully I had filled in this information some time ago for my parents’ wedding and my for mother-in-law and father-in-law’s as well. Whew, am I ever glad we did.
It is so easy to forget how crucial it is to add information to your own photos, especially those from pre-digital days.
So my advice – break out those old albums and be sure to ask about every wedding picture you find. Oh, and do it now!