Images that store or spark memories, and what to do about them.

Wordless Wednesday: Doris rides Pete

Click to enlarge

Great Aunt Doris atop her horse, Pete. Found in letters among Christmas Cards. She hand colored this herself. More photos of Doris

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 04, 2009 in • Personal HistoryPhotographs
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LIFE magazine photo archive now searchable on Google

LIFE photo archive hosted on the web by Google. Photos go back to the 1860s, and sketches & etchings go back to the 1750s. Wow! Here’s the Google blog post about it. There goes the afternoon. I’ve already found an interesting railroad set. There goes the afternoon! [via Lifehacker]

Not only is this cool, but it’s a good thing to poke through if you’re going to sit down and interview someone. It’s better to get some research in about the time and place where your interviewee lived. What was it like in 1950s? What about such-n-such events? Spending time in collections such as this helps to take you, the questioner, there, and ask better questions of your interviewee.. I’ve been thinking about online repositories of supporting information

P.S. Southern Pacific Rail Road. Dispatcher, perhaps? That was my grandfather’s job and employer

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 18, 2008 in • HistoryInterviewingPhotographs
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She Went West and Climbed Mt. Rainier

image In 1924, the 23-year-old woman climbed Mt. Rainier in Washington State. Edith kept a photo album, and wrote captions in white ink. She called herself Edy. I previously blogged about her mother, Jenny, whose childhood was marked by over-protection: Jenny’s parents hovered over her, and protected her so much that she felt stifled. That’s what parents do to the remaining child when the elder son leaves to seek his fortune and is never heard from again. Jenny wouldn’t let her daughter’s dreams be stifled the way she herself was stifled. So when Edy announced she wanted to go west, Mom told her daughter, “Go, go.” And Go she did. Including climbing to the top of a volcano.

The album is a record of Edy’s western sojourn. She worked at a Veterans Hospital. There’s a photo of Edy in uniform standing behind a man in a wheelchair. Lots of pictures of friends, of cars, picnics. Photos of a horse (“Chief”)  When I first paged through this album, though, I was amazed at these 8 pages of photos of her trek to climb Mt. Rainier. It takes a lot of pluck and stamina to make a climb like that.


The Mt. Rainier National Park web site describes the climb:

Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer. Each year thousands of people successfully climb this 14,410 foot active ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on July 01, 2008 in • Personal HistoryPhotographs
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Shades of the Departed Guest Blog

Hooray for Footnote Maven, who invited me to guest blog at Shades of the Departed. My post is about interviewing people about photo albums. Why photos rock, and what sorts of practical things you can do during an interview. You may already be a winner! Read the entry to find out why. (I certainly won-in a slightly different way. Thanks to fM for the nudge to write that post. If it weren’t for that deadline, I might’ve waited a little while longer before blogging here again.)

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 20, 2008 in • InterviewingMemorabiliaPersonal HistoryPhotographs
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Collective Intelligence

Nelle B. Stulle Library of Congress uploads 3000 photos from its archives to Flickr for all the world to tag.

I whiled away a bit of time last night adding tags to photos. At first, I thought, Oh, there’s nothing to add. But then I discovered that there were tags I could add. (in the process, I discovered that there are two ways to spell bandolier/bandoleer, the criss-cross belt worn on the torso that holds ammunition. Who knew?)

Pilot, LOC image I’d love to see more tags added by those who know fashions and can name the style of jacket, or hat. I mean sombrero and bowler I know, but what about the type of caps worn by boys in 1910, or the style of jacket lapels or decorations on a woman’s dress? And tho I found much to admire in outfits worn by people, I certainly didn’t want to add stylin’ as a tag.

Dorothy Knight at Wyoming launch Edw. Gardner shoots pool ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 17, 2008 in • HistoryPhotographs
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Holiday visits: Witness to an Interview

Photo albums are a thing of beauty. I got to witness an oral history interview about a photo album on my Christmas holiday travels. I was the silent third party, operating the equipment, and asking the occasional question to pull out a few more details. Son brings Father a photo album, put together by Son’s Mother. The album was discovered after Mother’s death. It covers the time in Mother’s and Father’s early life together, before the kids were born, and before the Mother and Father’s divorce. Father is the only one alive who can describe what’s going on in the photos. Here are a few observations I made about interviewing with photo albums.

Photos are a fabulous memory trigger. When sparking a conversation about someone’s recollections, how do you get to the well of memories inside a person’s mind? Questions may trigger… they are words to tap that well, but that recollection-well still resides inside the person’s mind. Pictures are external triggers. They bring back the memories for the interviewee. Plus, being external, the interviewer can make his or her own observations about what’s in the picture, and use them to elicit more information. “Tell me about the car” or “Look at the uniform you wore! When did you get that uniform?” or “Whose house is that?”

Interviewing over photo albums For The Record.  It’s wholly ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 02, 2008 in • InterviewingMemorabiliaPhotographs
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Memory Miner is now on Windows!

imageGo and get it! Just in time for Family Tech Support Holiday, I mean, Thanksgiving! wink I kid (but I have blogged Thanksgiving Tech before), but it’s true.

MemoryMiner is a photo album and then some (it won best of show when it was introduced at Macworld in January 2006)—import your photos. Identify the people in the photos, the places, and the date the photo was taken (even if your date is approximate). The more you add and work with, the more you can look at photos differently. Let me see photos of Grandma Kitchens, taken in her childhood and teens (1901-1920) before she married Grandpa and became a “Kitchens.” Click the icon for her, and move the date sliders to show 1901-1920. Voila! Your photo album just got rearranged to show only those photos.

Since early in the days of MemoryMiner (Mac), photo libraries have been sharable. So ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 19, 2007 in • Family History SoftwarePersonal HistoryPhotographs
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I had composed a huge post talking all about scanfest. Then, just as I neared the completion of it, Firefox crashed, taking my words and thoughts with it. So, while the black cartoon scribble above my head dissipates, I’ll just say this: it was fun, let’s do it again. Voice chat via Gizmo Project was fun. I liked it. It was distracting (I wasn’t the only distracted one), let’s have more just-social chats to get the “get to know you” out of our systems so we can do scanning, file naming and chatting simultaneously. I scanned two letters (one involved 14 separate files). It’s a start.

It was good to “meet” Miriam, Denise, Lee, Jasia, Amy, and Apple. I hope I didn’t miss anyone. Like I said, it was distracting (especially as I was copying and pasting from one IM to another, and then talking up chat topics to the voice-over-IP chat, and typing the Voice synopsis to the typed group IM chat… all while trying to dream up file naming conventions for the letters I was scanning.)

(and I’m going to change the defaults of this software to save draft posts and then publish them. That is just too arrgh-y to repeat)

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 26, 2007 in • GenealogyPhotographs
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Save My Memories

A website devoted to longevity and preservation of digital photographs. A site put together by the International Imaging Industry Association (I3A). Cause you want to “remember the day in pictures” but not have your digital images go to “file heaven”– that location the bits go when your disk drive crashes or you accidentally erase the files.
[via Digitzation 101 via Richard Hess]

And while digital technologies have changed the way we capture and share photos, the desire to safeguard our visual heritage today, and in the future, remains essentially the same.

The companies that comprise the International Imaging Industry Association, or I3A, understand this all too well. That’s why we created this site—to help you understand how to protect and preserve your photographic memories for years to come.

The issues with digital preservation of photographs are bascially the same as the issues of digital preservation of spoken word stories. Once the files exist as digital files (hey, it’s all bits), you’re in the realm of preserving digital media. This page ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 11, 2007 in • DigitalityLongevityPhotographs
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Happy New Year

Happy 2007! I live in the greater Pasadena area, and that city throws a big annual floral New Year’s party for a large number of visitors and an even larger television audience. We were wakened by the non-stealthy roar of the Stealth bomber (& 2 fighter escort jets) at 7:30 this morning– the jets fly in wide circles near the mountains before they start the parade just after 8 by strafing the 5+ mile route. We went outside to look, and discovered that the best way to spot the jets is to stand outside and shiver for a bit waiting for the next pass; by the time the sound reached us, the jets receded from sight.

My first in-person viewing of the parade was 1983, and believe it or not, the memory of that day is relevant to this site’s theme of digital tools for preserving memories.

On New Year’s Day in 1983, I worked the parade. I walked up and down two aisles of bleachers right near where the parade turns the corner, smack dab in the prime TV-camera viewing region. I sold Kodak film to loyal alums and boosters of the two college football teams. I did it to raise money for an overseas trip I took in the spring of that year; my school had exclusive rights to sell Kodak film along the parade route.

Today, while watching the TV coverage of the parade—-what? You think I braved the crowds to go down to the parade route? If you don’t live within walking distance or snag an invite to a parade-viewing party, the best way to watch it is in HiDef TV a few miles away. ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 01, 2007 in • DigitalityLongevityPersonal HistoryPhotographs
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Holiday Shopping at Library of Congress

Here are some way-too-cool items that you can buy from the Library of Congress gift store. You can spend a good amount of time browsing through all the offerings (I have!). Recordings, maps, photos, clothing, books, posters, and much more.


image A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings

Since 1928, Library of Congress fieldworkers have gathered thousands of American folksongs in farmhouses, prison barracks, and schoolrooms across the nation. Researchers traveled the back roads of the Delta, the Appalachians, and the Great Plains using battery-powered disc-cutting machines as they ventured beyond the grid of rural electricity. Here are 30 of the greatest performances from the legendary Library of Congress recording series.

Here’s a list of all the other folk recordings available... What a tremendous array of recordings from various places and sub-cultures. See anything that matches where your family ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 10, 2006 in • AudioGeneralPersonal HistoryPhotographs
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Boots on the Ground: The Technology I Use

James L Clark, (US Army Civil Affairs soldier serving in Iraq), draws his personal history of war inspiration inspired by past war historians, and takes full advantage of personal media to record his personal history of the war in Iraq. He describes the equipment he uses to make photos, video, and audio recordings.

Not many people think about their deployment as being anything more than just that—a deployment. They accept their responsibility, duty, and privilege to serve our country in a war zone as “just part of the job.” The problem with this thinking is that it ignores the incredible opportunity that each soldier has to document not only “the” war but “their” war.

Dr. Forest C. Pogue was an official US Army historian during WWII and attained the rank of master sergeant. He was a proponent of “oral history” techniques and collected many such histories from the war during his career. During D-Day, Dr. Pogue (then SGT Pogue) interviewed wounded soldiers about their experiences both on the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on July 19, 2006 in • AudioAudio: HardwarePersonal HistoryPhotographsVideoVideo: Hardware
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Podcast 3: MemoryMiner and John Fox

An interview with John Fox, MemoryMiner’s developer. MemoryMiner 1.1 (MacOS) is released today, July 14, 2006, MemoryMiner for Windows is in development. I interview John Fox about the software and his inspiration for creating it. (Interview from May, 2006)

Show notes:

MemoryMiner homepage

Subscribe to the podcast feed

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on July 14, 2006 in • Family History SoftwarePersonal HistoryPhotographsPodcasts
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Memory Miner: Family History App for Mac OS

MemoryMiner is a MacOS app that’s more than the means to annotate your collection of family photos: It provides options for identifying people and their relationships, the time and place of photo, or places a person has lived or a person’s life. Echoing the interconnectedness of person, places and events, the software builds up a in order to build up a portrait of a person and family relationships. Further, it has the ability to attach audio files to pictures. Hooray! Now my Mom, who won’t learn to type, but is the repositor of family info, can “talk about” the photo and date and time, and not be held back by the tangle of fingers and keyboards.

I watched the demo movie once—it requires QuickTime 7, it would seem. Which I used to view the movie elsewhere, but not at this machine. Anyway, it was an amazing demo movie. Here are pictures of a person. For each, you identify who the person is, what relationship the person is to you (Grandmother, Aunt, Great-Aunt, etc.), when the picture was taken—specific time or approximate. You can draw marquees around different people in the photograph to identify more than one person to a photo. View photos of one person, or this person and that person. Drop an audio file (and thereby link it) to an image. Or create a text annoation of the image. Further, you can identify places where photos ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 18, 2006 in • Do it: YourselfFamily History SoftwarePhotographs
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