creative writing, Family History

Will your family photos be around in 100 years time?

When I am not writing my blog, I am researching family history.  Call me Miss Marple please; I am rarely happier than tracking a trail to discover more information about my family and  I find Ancestry.co.uk is  invaluable.   Anyone who is tracing a family tree will probably have an interest in one particular member, mine is my maternal Great Grandfather  Thomas Taylor, known as Tom.

I wish I had known him, I feel completely drawn to him and just want to  know more and more.   Life in the Victorian era was not easy,  Tom lost two wives and five children during his life time, to lose one wife is heartbreaking but to go through bereavement seven times just doesn’t bare thinking about.   It must have had a dramatic effect on his outlook on life, maybe it made him more stoic.   He was a Catholic and perhaps he just placed his faith in God, but even that would have been tested, surely.

Born in Liverpool on 24 November 1841, 170 years ago, Tom was one of eight children born to John and Catharine Taylor.  I am drawing a blank with finding out information about   John Taylor, there were hundreds of them in Liverpool at that time.   John Taylor was a Coal Merchant and Tom inherited the business on his father’s death.  He was a Colliery Proprietor  at his death aged 76 on 26 March 1918.

He looks like a typical Victorian gentleman and I like to think he had a great charm about him.   It’s funny how we weave a character around just a photograph, there is no one alive to tell me what he was really like, although my Mother said she understood he was a very kind and loving man.   She was born a year after his death so didn’t know him.

Tom had three wives and fifteen children – that’s some legacy.   As I said earlier, he lost five of his children;  four died in childhood and the First World War claimed William, (38)  in 1915.

Tom’s third wife, was Annie Mary Grimshaw (a good Lancashire name!) – she was my Great Grandmother.   Annie was 31 and Tom was 52 when they married in 1893 and she inherited seven step-children.    For the two oldest sons, she was their second step-mother.    Tom and Annie  had six children, two died in childhood, Gerard died aged 7  and his brother Eric, who was only 4 died the following year.  There were no antibiotics then and if children had chest infections it often turned to pneumonia which killed them.

Their fourth child and first daughter, Alice (or Alys, she changed the spelling), was my Grandmother.   She is the older of the three girls in the photograph above.      Looking at these photographs makes me realise how important it is to keep them safe so they can be passed down through the generations.  With the digital age, and saving photos on to computers and memory sticks, I wonder if they will still be around in years to come when our children become keen to trace their history.  It  is only in the last ten years that I have been so interested in where I have come from, maybe its a mortality thing and I have been lucky enough to have photos that my mother has saved.    In 100 years time  will there be the same fascination in old photographs, I do hope so, it’s all part and parcel of social history.

I love the clothes they wore, especially the one below… it looks straight out of The Railway Children.   These are the three sisters, Alice, Hilda and Marie.

Annie died when she was 77, in May 1939, before the Second World War started in September 1939  and a year before their youngest daughter, Marie, only 37,  was killed during an air raid in Liverpool.  My Mother remembers her Aunty Marie well and talks about her with great love and likes to tell me how Marie would sing and dance all the time.   I don’t know the year the photograph below was taken, but this is Marie and Great Granny Taylor, but it probably was sometime during the 30’s.    The fashions are very 30’s, straight up and down dresses with no shape.

Great Granny Taylor, must have seen some amazing changes in her lifetime, fashions, health care and lifestyles.  She lived through the First World War and lost one of her step-sons in the War,  I am glad she didn’t have to live through the Second and suffer the loss of a fourth child and youngest daughter.

I can’t leave this piece about my family history without sharing a wonderful photograph of my Paternal Grandmother Dorothy Sheriff-Gibbons.   She was born in 1897  in Mayfair, London to Charles Sherriff, a Silversmith who came from Stonehouse in Devon but that’s another story (see the link below).    I have no idea when this photo was taken and can’t even begin to judge her age.   It is of her and her brother,  John Oliver (always known as Tubby) who was born in 1900.  What a fabulous hat!

I hope we all keep our family photographs safe so that down the generations, someone in your family, maybe a great granddaughter, will know what you looked like and the type of clothes you wore at the time.

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22 thoughts on “Will your family photos be around in 100 years time?”

  1. These are amazing photos… We lost tons of photos during the war. We also lost other albums during moves across continents… Pity really as I still see photos in my mind’s eyes that are no longer at hand… Great post.

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  2. I inherited lots of photos from my side of the family. Other family members have let me borrow & copy their photos. I then got hubby on board to photograph each photo, which gave better results than scanning. I have loaded copies of the photos, all named to Flickr. That has proved positive as I have made family connections, previously known. I have also copied the photos to CD for other family members.

    I use the photos to add visual content to blog posts. The plan to use the various blog posts to produce the data into a more structured book form. So using the blog as a springboard. I then saw a post on the blog of Armchair Genealogist who is starting a similar project for 2012.

    I have recently posting photos to Sepia Saturday meme. I recently had comments left by other bloggers who pointed out things I had not previously noticed & a comment that gave me further information that I had not considered.

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  3. Fascinating post Ronnie. I’ve scanned in lots of our old family photos to preserve them, who knows what future generations will do with all our many hundreds of digital photos. I’m like Liz, horribly camera shy, so not much chance of my nephews and nieces having anything to pass on to their grandchildren. Maybe by then it will all be holographs or something weird…

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  4. A most interesting post Ronnie. I am trying to get to grips researching my father’s side of the family and hope to make some progress now that gardening opportunities are limited. Fortunately I have been lucky in that the surname in question is fairly unusual. If you ever have any leads which require an on the ground presence in Liverpool (about 20 minutes away) do let me know as I would be delighted to help.

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  5. Fascinating post Ronnie, I love the old photos, they are so precious.
    As we get older we want to know more about the past and our ancestors, our roots.
    We are doing that now, trying to gather as much information as we can from those still living about the ones who have died, and collecting old photographs of family members, and identifying them on the back for future generations.
    I see you are from a family of Taylors from Liverpool – my hub’s family are Taylors from Burnley in Lancashire – perhaps we are related from way back! You never know!
    Great post!

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      1. Taylor seems to be a pretty common name generally – since emigrating to Australia, we have found the same here with our name – common as muck!

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  6. Fascinating post, Ronnie. I am in the process of putting all our prints and slides onto DVD and it’s a massive task. My sister has been researching our family tree and is keeper of the older photos. I like to think they will still be there for the next generation if they’re interested.

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  7. Love it! Anne and I were pouring over all the work you had done on the family tree and were dazzled by the detail of it all. I will make sure she reads this right away! Neat to see Alice, Hilda and Marie … we’ve heard that story. Happy Christmas to you all! – Nancy

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  8. Hi Ronnie,

    I have to agree; how lovely to be able to see ancestors like this… Our family is only small and one half of it pretty much abandoned thanks to my parental grandmother being crazy and disowning her own family and much of my grandfather’s too. I also know very little about my mother’s side, but I do know it’s much larger than my father’s and there’s lots of them out there – most of whom I’ve never met.

    Also, I have to admit to there being no photos of me; I loathe the camera and my graduation photos are probably the first ones I’ve had since my last graduation 7 years ago. My mum recently told her mother (who also hates cameras) that her great grandchildren need something to remember her by as they may be too young to really remember her face should she pass. Surprisingly nan has since allowed photos to be taken and good on her. Can’t say I’ll be doing the same.

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    1. I just wish I had been more interested in family history when my grandparents were alive. There are so many gaps that I can’t fill. Also the latest census is only to 1911 so I can’t retrieve more modern information. I have very few photos of me also, for the very same reason. The wedding photo (on Twitter) is about the only pic there is of me.

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  9. I hope that what we write on our blogs, the snippets of remembered family history, will live on for another 2 or 3 generations. I have written about my parents, and what they told me about my unmet grandparents.

    Sadly if the photos are not clearly labelled, the next generation may no longer know who it is. Or even that they are related.

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  10. I too love to research and preserve the past; my last post was geared toward this…I hope to have them all saved on a hard drive at some point. Just one more project!

    I love the Victorian fashion; although I think I much prefer comfort! Thank you for sharing this post, I really enjoyed it.

    Jessica

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  11. Hi Ronnie. What great photos! I have an album full of various old family photos going back several generations. What I like best is I can see that my son looks so like his great great grandfather which I would never have known without the photos as I never met him. Its really interesting to see he family likenesses going back through time.

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  12. Hi Ronnie
    What great photos – you are so lucky to have them as so many people throw them out. I’ve been doing my family history for a few years and its a great way of learning so much more along the way. Well Alice certainly looks mischievous and has a twinkle in her eye so do you think you may see some similarities there. I’m sure future generations will just be able to go on the internet or whatever replaces it to see photos.

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