Thursday, November 18, 2021

Seven Generations of Photos

     Does having a picture of your ancestor change the way you look at their life story?  While I am researching I am always hopeful that I will find photos of my ancestors, unfortunately, I rarely find them.  I can tell their stories with the facts I can find but I still want the photos.  So, I keep searching.

     This Summer I was amazed at the number of photos on my Robinson and Terry lines that were found at my cousin's house.  Rebecca has bins of things that belonged to her great-grandmother Ella Terry Billard.  When we got together this Summer, while I was visiting, I was astounded at the number of photos we found and how old they were.  Working with these photos I am learning so many new things about the family.  One of the first things I realized is that these are the oldest photos I have ever been able to see!  As I thought about this I also realized I have seven generations of photos with this find.  Photos from my son all the way back to Stephen Robinson (3x great grandfather) which was taken no later then 1871.  As you look at the generations of photos, what family resemblances do you see among the photos?  What else do you notice in the photos?

(click on image to enlarge)

I wonder if Caroline's closed "smile" was due to a lack of teeth? I wonder if there was a permanent photographer in the Riverhead area in the 1860s and 70s?  What was the occasion for the photos taken of Stephen and Caroline?  What was the occasion for Almeda's photo?  I believe Carrie's photo was taken in New York City during her time in college (1880-2).  My grandfather's picture was taken from a family photo probably taken in the 1940s.  My father's picture was taken at my second marriage in 2012.  Mine was taken in 2018 when I received my General Society of Mayflower Descendants certificate and my son's was his senior picture in college.  (Be sure to click on the bold names above if you'd like to find out about the life stories of the people in the photos.)

Seeing a picture of my ancestor really brings them to life for me.  I may have many facts about them but actually seeing what they looked like definitely makes them "real" for me.  How about for you?  What an amazing find this was!

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.

Enjoy the journey,


  1. Having photos does mean a lot. I know we both stare at our ancestor pictures. If only they would speak to us. Oh the questions we would ask.

    1. Yes, I so rarely find one and then I see just how much it adds to my ancestor's story to be able to see them.

  2. Gravesites, photos, correspondence, etc., all have the ability, imo, to bring to life what is otherwise merely abstract as names and dates on paper. They are tangibles, evidence of existence, things we can see and feel, that afford us an inexplicable, virtual, subconscious emotional connection. Obviously, re family photographs, they must ultimately pass to the next generation, to one of the children (typically the oldest female, if available), it is our job as genealogists to determine who that individual is or was. I've used this approach several times - contacting more distant relatives - in an attempt to locate old photos, with some "relative" success. That said, still somewhat disappointed that I have not been able to locate a picture of my g-grandfather, who died at age 32 in 1902, or his father, who died in 1900 at age 59. Likewise, there was a painting of my 4th g-grandfather that was displayed at the 250th anniversary celebration of Gloucester, MA, which I have not been able to locate either.

    Resemblance, I don't know. There is obvious resemblance my father to his father, and his older brother to maternal uncles, but otherwise we generally find very little or no discernable, definite, resemblance. One possible exception being those of Germany, who I tend to think of as a "one-people." It's not uncommon to pass people on the streets of Germany who actually do look very much alike, imo.

    1. Good luck finding the picture of your g-grandfather. I sure think having the photos is a tremendous gift.