I write about the many photos I’ve gathered over my years researching my family’s history, and why they have given me, and so many others, so much pleasure.
One of my most prized possessions that I gained with my research is the thousands of pictures obtained from different family members over the years. It gives me joy anytime I’m able to locate the faces behind the census records. It’s also a thrill whenever I can scan a picture and put it online to fill a gap in my family history. My collages of family photos have in the past connected families from generations of separation.
It’s pretty amazing for me to share photos and have people comment on my Facebook. They may have seen a picture but didn’t know who it was, but have now been given knowledge and history of individual in the picture.
Early opposition to collection
It has definitely been a benefit for me and my family in obtaining and scanning pictures. Memories of the past now have a chance to be identified and shared throughout the family, and for generations to come.
When I first started collecting pictures I was faced with a lot of opposition. It didn’t matter if I told them that I was putting photos on my hard drive, in case of a fire or natural disaster. After meeting with relatives from New Orleans I learned that Hurricane Katrina was responsible for damaging thousands of photos held by family members. These are memories that they can’t get back.
Naming the nameless figures
Over the years I was able to scan through thousands of photos of relatives who lived in Saint Landry Parish. I was able to give relatives pictures of their ancestors that they had never seen before.
Another interesting fact is that some people may know the connection of the people but don’t know the name. That is where my research came in. For example, when I found a picture in Frilot Cove I was told that this man was the great grandfather of my host. The person who owned the original copy didn’t know the name of the person, however, with my research I was able to identify who he was as well as tell him some interesting historical facts about the man in the photograph.
One of my best picture finds was locating an old shoebox of pictures of some of Opelousas, most influential in town, Creoles of Color. In that box was a picture of Dr. Raphael Emile DONATO, who was one of the first licensed physicians in the Town of Opelousas.
Family photos: a flood of memories
I have success stories of finding pictures for family members. I actually was able to locate one of my great Uncle Frank Lafleur’s army photos. After his wife divorced him he left a lot of things behind and many were lost in the process, even his army photos. During a visit to his sister Lillian, in Eunice, Louisiana I found some of his army photographs. When I showed him the pictures he cried and attempted to give me money for the pictures. I refused and told him that he didn’t owe me anything.