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    • or is it just history that is easily forgotten?

      I have a file of family photos, of family members that died a long time before i was born, in some cases generations.

      My brother in law has the same, the stories and life back then were interesting, unique and mostly a very hard way of life.

      My sister decided to frame a lot of them and hang them in her house, one wall has his family another our family.

      When i go to see them the conversation inevitably becomes about one of them, truth or fiction, just looking at the photo and what you can read into it

      Does any one else do this?

      For example this is a scan of a photo from 1904 of my great, great, great grandfather holding my grandmother when she was 3 months old

    • He was a sea faring man, his son ran away to the Navy when he was 14 and lied that he was 16 to get onboard and ended sailing his whole life and seeing the Seven Seas, the family was extremely poor...but when they got together you would never know.

      This photograph from the same era, my grandmother 2nd from the right on her mothers knee...the big questions that arise from this photo is where is my great, great, great grandfather?

      ...and why do some look like they are heading to a wedding and others to a funeral!

    • Hi! first time posting here and I don't even konw if I'm doing it right.

      Great question because I have always wished to have talked with my grandfather on my mother's side.

      How and why? Well, he died in 1982 a year before I was born. From that point on forward the gender unbalance was noticeable with 7 female family members against 2 male family members. Quite unbalanced when growing up and the values cemented on me.

      For instance, it is hard to be a man when women are the majority in your family and in particular when they all hate men because their own bad experience with men in or during relationships. Like I was guilty for being a man, so I had my share of hate when growing up and up to this point.

      This is related to my deceased grandfather because even though he was married he left the the house and had a mistress that got the role of the wife. From that marriage I have male uncles. That was a shock for my aunts. To have -such a male role model- so to speak. It did affect my aunts because not one of them were able to marry or have healthy relationships. They always founds married men or got pregnant without marrying.

      In any case, I would like to have asked my grandfather why he left his family when he was 12. Apparently, he got fed up of being beaten up by his mom. Like what the hell! It was circa 1920s so different times back then.

      Another point I would have liked to have asked my father is what was my grandmother like while being married. The accounts I have from mom are that "she was a tiger," quite fierce and dominating. So I guess not fun to be around.

      Regarding pictures from the family one never knew. What if those pictures were borrowed by family members from others families as well? Oh...

      I wish, as I'm now older, to have more men in the family to talk about man's issues. There is not much experience in the women in my family to talk about men or manhood. I wish to have known my grandfather, sometimes I even start talking to him about life.

      Thank you for your post!

      July 2019 edit: I have traced back my family heritage if you will up to the 4th previous generation. The time ranges from 1860 to 1890s: a single women from Aruba moved to my country. That's quite telling because single motherhood runs in the family heavily. Why did she move alone from one country to another? How did she survive? Her daughter was unable to raise my grandmother, and instead she raised my grandmother. So my grandmother's values are from the 1860-1890 instead of the following generation. That will forever puzzle me.

    • I find the titular question really intriguing, Paul. I've thought about it before, because I'm very interested in genealogy, and my dad (whose side of the family was less mapped and therefore more attractive to me!) is not. He says he can't imagine what importance the lives of ancestors he never met can have to him. I've convinced him this far, though: he acknowledges the people HE met that I never have gain importance for me through his stories!

      I've mentioned my great-grandfather Frank, in the WWI thread: he was a wonderful formative influence on my dad. He taught him how to make things and fix things, instilled a lifelong tea habit (strong black tea with canned milk: very working-class Canadian), and let him drive his tractor when he still needed blocks tied *lengthwise* to his feet to hit the pedals. And Frank had an incredible life, which I know through Dad's stories and stories from Dad's mom, Frank's eldest child and best chum. He got to dandle my older sister on his knee -- we have a wonderful photo somewhere -- but died before I was born, and I am so sorry not to have even that unremembered connection my sister does.

      I also know that my dad's great-grandfather John (Frank's father-in-law) was one of Dad's earliest babysitters, and a few childish memories Dad has from that. John's father fought in the Civil War! (For the Union -- he lived in one of the counties in Tennessee that seceded from the Confederacy, so he nipped across the border and joined a Kentucky regiment.) To me, that's very meaningful: that by word of mouth, I am that closely connected to history that old. It's better when we have stories about them than when they're just photographs.

      So yes, like you, when I only have photographs, I pore over them for clues. One of the wonderful things with genealogy is that I can get more clues, and read into them too: working out from ages on ship manifests, for instance, that my mom's great-grandfather came over to the US with his dad and worked before they could arrange for his mom and younger siblings to join them, at the tail end of the Potato Famine. It means something, to see how young my ancestors married or how young they emigrated -- how young they had to work. I spent a long time trying to find a census record for that Irish immigrant ancestor's wife after the one where she was a widow with five kids. I finally realized I lost her because she remarried -- to a widower, also Irish, with a bunch of kids of his own. And I wonder, how much was affection, how much convenience and survival? There are a hundred stories in these photos and facts, if you try.

    • apologies for the late reply i was up in the mountains in Peru and no wifi for a while...

      Its funny I looked at my families picutres a lot and had a lot of questions, I wanted details, intricate details not just births deaths and marriages, thats the really sad part that those details die with the family, or maybe the secrets...there's always secrets

      On one side of my family the men, all the men have died before the age of 76, and I have a family tree going back to the 1600's but the women live on average into the high ninties...were the men worn down by the women, and similar to your family history there are more women, a lot more women.

    • if i was based in one location i think i would be like you and make time to research, the why's and wherefore of each family member.

      Mine moved around which back then was nearly uheard of, family members worked in the ship building yards and also worked at sea (as I did) I'd love to hear the details, the hi and lows, the real hardships.

      Find the houses they lived in, is that a possibilityto get former addresses to try and build a story, i'd like to see it first hand for myself. If the house is still there knock on the door to get a feel of their life.

    • In 1906 my great great Uncle Jim bought the first motorcycle in Barrow in Furness, England. My great, great Aunt Harriet got the front seat, the wicker front seat.

      I would have loved to be a fly on the wall to hear the conversations as they rode along and he grabbed the brakes and she lerched forwards with no seat belt.

      An interesting point I found out is he bought this motorcycle after he bought a car...three years later, you would have expected it to be the other way around?

    • We don't talk family history too much in my family and sometimes it annoys me, but it is what it is. That being said, I firmly believe everyone has a great story. It might be a simple story or it might be tragically fascinating, but the story is theirs and it's probably more interesting than you think.

    • I agree it just takes time to listen and then for that story to be passed on to generations to come. Sometimes just looking a the faces in those photos I know there's an amazing story behind thse eyes that i will never know...that is sad that its gone forever

    • I love family history and I'm fascinated with stories of my ancestors. I came across this post about creating an ancestor book (and having your kids illustrate it!) and I thought that was brilliant:

      I've started working on ours.

      I came across this research a few years back about how knowing their family's history helps kids be more resilient:

      That resonates with me. I often think about the positive characteristics of my parents and grandparents (and further back!) and how a piece of those are a part of me... somewhere! I also think reflecting on their circumstances, challenges, etc. can give us perspective. My Scottish ancestors had grit in spades, or so I imagine when I see photographs like this:

      I was lucky to have a father who guessed at how significant their stories would be to their posterity. He went over to Scotland in the 80s with fancy video equipment and captured the stories of our oldest living relatives at the time. What a treasure to have stories to go with the photos.