Scanning the Negatives
Over decades family pictures funneled down to me because I'd take them. I saved them in envelopes, then boxes.
Be tween my mother and grandmother, many were identified and others guessed at.
An example was Margaret McWilliams McClure, who was born in Antrim, Northern Ireland, in 1813. She and her large family migrated to America in November of 1815, and we know the date because her sister, Mary Jane, was born on the ship on the North Atlantic.
Margaret married Hugh McClure and they had eleven children, five of whom migrated to Texas, two went to Florida.
Margaret's daughter Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” McClure married James Wooddall, who died in 1897 in Campbellton, Georgia.
There are two pictures my mother believed to be Lizzie at different ages.
The matter was settled by scanning the pictures to reveal that the woman was wearing the same alligator tooth necklace in both images. It was likely a favorite gift from one of her Florida brothers.
The oldest picture I have is of Lizzie's grandmother Elizabeth McMillian, who was born in Ireland in 1795 and helped her husband, William, populate Georgia, Florida, and Texas with all those McClures and related to everybody else.
In the image she is dressed typically as an Irish woman of that era, including a small lace cap.
When I watch people capturing cell phone videos and images of an event, two things come to mind. First, they are missing the excitement of the moment. Second, digital images are volatile and easily lost. Film, even video tape, has a long life span, but images and video stored on a chip or as a data file are fragile. And when was the last time you looked at all the pictures on your cell? My Phillips family took pictures of events and people. When they couldn't take the picture, they bought picture post cards. For years I wondered what I'll eventually do with all those negatives. There are envelopes of film, thousands of frames, and I'm the only one with an interest.
At last I found a remedy in a small scanner ordered from Japan.
I can scan any negative I have including color slides.
In museums and private collections, we have a wonderful collection of images of America beginning in the 1850's.
How we are going to gather and preserve America's picture book, images of people and things now on cell phones is anybody's guess.