cabinet-card-unidentifiedWe’ve all seen them by the basket/ box/ trunk load at auctions, antique malls and thrift havens–oodles of cabinet cards, postcards, pictures… Discarded and disparate particles of peoples’ past. Who are these people? How did this family ephemera end up here? And why–OH WHY–didn’t people write names on the back of these photos!!? I bought this one (stamped ‘Shoaff’ in the bottom right corner) because I love her dress and poise. Who is she? No bloody clue.

Within my own family, I have a similar situation… gr-gr-grandma-unidentified

This large picture is one of my unidentified great-great or great-great-great grandmothers, supposedly. Upon the death of my great-grandmother, her children who lived nearby picked over her belongings like vultures, discarded this and a couple others like it with the garbage–and I’m sure other “worthless” (to them) family ephemera.

When my grandparents arrived from states away, my grandmother had the good sense to rescue a couple of the larger pictures. Of course, no one ever had the wherewithal to ask and/or write on the back whose visage this is exactly. I treasure this picture, but know only that I have been told since childhood she is one of my grandmothers.
I purchased this card on a whim because I liked her outfit, and because her name and a date appeared on the back. I thought it might be fun to see what I could find out about her. Presenting:  Mabel Kerper on December 14, 1897. Turns out she and her family lived in Woodruff Place at one point and Mabel was born in 1870.

We need a decoder on those old Woodruff Place lots. She lived at what was Lot 75– smack in the middle of Middle Drive, in the southern half on the west side.

In the meantime, what are you doing to make sure your family photos and history don’t end up lining the walls at a Cracker Barrel, in buckets at an antique mall or–mon dieu!–in a landfill in the future?

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