When a Group of College Students Discovered a Lost Collection of Family Photos, Here’s What They Did
A group of college students came across an album, a lost collection of photos of a woman and her family, frozen in time. Captivated by the beautiful family snapshots, the students made it their mission to find the owners of this lost family treasure.
Here’s who they are, and why they care about lost family photos:
We are a class of twenty five honors students from Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. Our seminar, Lost and Found Photos, focuses on the importance of photography and the sentimentality that comes with losing and finding family snapshots. We’ve been asking each other about our own photography and archiving practices, and we consider where our photos will go when we’re no longer around.
Translating our curiosity into a meaningful mission, we’re hoping to locate the owner of a found collection of photographs. Our professor discovered these snapshots a few years ago in a local bookstore, Much Ado Books, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. By trying to reunite the photos with the original owners, we are on a journey into the realm of one family’s memories.
We all take photos of our families, friends, pets, homes and cars – and of ourselves – because it seems naive to trust our memories. Photos become sharpened reflections of the grainy images in our heads—her dress on our first date, our kids playing in the backyard, family beach games and community church services.
We take photos so we can use them as cheat sheets. They are our flashcards, nudging us toward the nostalgia that we crave as we age. And then we file them into albums, display some in frames, hang a few on the wall, where they stay, as evidence and artifacts, ready at a moment’s notice to remind us of whatever we wanted to remember.
Just like our physical families, though, family photographs become distant if we do not interact with them. If we ignore our families, we grow apart. If we ignore our family photo archives, they might end up lost.
We all come from families. We all come from somewhere. Our somewheres might differ, but they are unavoidable. We can never rid ourselves of where we came from, but we can forget.
But we believe photos help us remember to remember. We believe it’s better to know our past than to forget.
In an old box, packed end-to-end with tattered photos, sits a woman frozen in time. In her arms lays a baby, only revealed through a sliver of his or her forehead. The photographer must have missed the shot. As we file through the remaining photographs, the same woman with her distinct beauty reveals herself in many forms and at many stages of her life.
Sitting before us is a collection of family memories, waiting to be rediscovered. Using these photos as our guide, we’ve made it our mission to reunite the descendants of the woman in these photographs with a piece of their family’s history.
Sparked by curiosity and our own growing knowledge of the sentimentality that a photograph holds, we hope that through this process we can both find the family, but more importantly, rediscover the power that a physical photograph can have in an increasingly digital world.
There is a chance, no matter how small, that these photos could provide happiness, closure, reason, or remembrance for a member of this family. Without testing this chance, the story of the woman’s lost photographs will remain incomplete. Like we said, we are a group that truly believes it is better to know than to forget.
Here’s how you can help:
• Share their mission on your social media feeds! Here’s a simple message you can copy and paste for Facebook or Instagram: A group of college students came across an album, a lost collection of photos of a woman and her family, frozen in time. Can you help find the family who lost their priceless photos? Here’s a link to the project: http://bit.ly/1TuPauu