Label old photos while you can

A great example of how not to label a photo!

A great example of how not to label a photo!

I’m visiting my parents in Walla Walla, Washington, and today my mother and I went through (for the second or third time) a big box of photos that she inherited after her mother passed away. Most of the photos are from here father’s family, the Browns. Thanks to my getting to know some of the Brown cousins earlier this year, the names made more sense than they had in the past.

But oh how I wish more of the photos had been labeled. And that those that were labeled had better labels! (The photo with this post is of the back of one of the photos we looked at today.) And, of course, my other big wish is that I’d taken the time a decade or more ago, when my mother’s memory was stronger, to go through them with her.

If all the photos had been labeled with the first and last names of those pictured and the date the photo was taken, my time going through them with my mother would have been more of a trip down memory lane for her, rather than a series of head scratchers. But we did make some progress and we had a very nice time.

My mother has given me permission to take the photos home with me. I intend to do more detective work and scan the photos that I can identify and attach them to my family tree. (Yet another reason to buy the scanner I’m coveting!) I’ll be attending the Brown family reunion in June and my intention is to bring those photos with me and ask for help in identifying some of the unlabeled photos. And, of course, I’ll be happy to share photos.

Once I get home from my trip and start dealing with these photos, I’ll do more research on what to do with the originals, as well as how to electronically tag and file the photos for ease of access in sharing. (And I’ll share here.)

I have many steps ahead of me. But one thing I know is that while I’m grateful that generations before me hung on to these photos, I wish they’d taken the time to give them good labels!


  1. I totally agree. Back home at my parents there is this huge tupperware box they keep pictures in. Black/White or color, maternal or paternal family or no family at all. All mixed up and I wish I could bring my parents to work through them when I am not home. They don’t want me to take the pictures with me (yet).

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