On the way to dinner with my wife last night, we discussed my new hobby and how enthusiastic I am about it. I lamented the fact that I would really love to have some actual physical evidence to work with, rather than websites and online databases. I want to roll up my sleeves and dive into some photographs and aged documents. Most of that stuff on my side of the family is scattered amongst my relatives in Israel. I don't know how difficult it is going to be to pry it out of their hands, but I will give it a shot.
My wife said she thinks she might have some old photos and perhaps a copy of the eulogy for her grandmother given by her priest. She sent herself a reminder to check it out when we got home.
One of the storage boxes she had so neatly organized was titled "Brannon Family". When we opened it up we found a lot of scattered photos, documents, war bonds, letters and a photo album. Some of the photos were labeled with names and dates. Some had complete stories printed on the back. Some were in great shape and some not so much. But all I could think of was, wow! This stuff is awesome!
Turns out my wife's great-grandmother, Pattie, was a photographer (among some of her talents). She even had these little stamps on the back stating that the photo was taken by her and what her address was. Amazing!
After going through the box I decided to see what else was in that cabinet. I found some additional photos from the Hytowitz side (my wife's maternal lineage) sent two years ago to my mother-in-law. They are reproductions of older photos by they are splendid. I also found something I had tucked away and had forgotten about. The last copy of The Wall Street Journal for the 20th century and the first copy of the 21st century. You can see those in the photo above.
The album that was discovered is a travel journal of my wife's grandmother, Emily-Ann, traveling to Germany with her husband who served there with the US Air Force. It included beautiful portraits and even some postcards sent to her from her husband while he was away on a mission looking for a downed bomber in North Africa.
Today I started organizing all these photographs. I saw that there were a lot that had the same theme, size and texture, so I grouped them together. Then I saw that on the back they had some markings, like a studio stamp with 3-4 numbers and sometimes a letter. I used those to group the photos again. I tried to find out what these mean, but was unsuccessful. Any one have an idea about these markings?
As you can see from the image on the left I laid them all out on my poker table and tried to get an idea of what I was dealing with. This afternoon I went to Michael's (the craft store) and got a photo organizer box that can handle about 2000 photos in separate compartments. So now all the photos are nicely sorted in that new box. I have a lot of work ahead of me.
I'll leave you with a portrait of Joseph W. (Hytowitz) Hyde, who would have been 100 years old last month. Handsome fellow, don't you think?
UPDATE: I added a sample of the markings on the backs of the photos I found. Click to enlarge: