Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A dignified history

HNAUSA -- People didn't smile in those old black-and-white studio photos a century ago because they had to sit still for so long due to slower camera exposures.
Or so people believe.
Or people will say, "My, those must have been hard times. Look... the people in those old photographs can't even smile."
We've misunderstood the people in those photos for too long, said Nelson Gerrard, a collector of archival photographs of early Icelandic immigrants.
Those aren't the reasons. The camera exposures were longer in the 1850s but not in the period 1880-1910 when waves of immigrants settled in Manitoba, said Gerrard.
What people fail to see is the importance our ancestors attached to the notion of dignity.
"In the Victorian era, the concept of a portrait was one of portraying dignity, a concept not easily understood today," said Gerrard.
Smiling in photos wasn't the fashion. The people in the photos tended to be the working poor and "wanted to appear like they had respect, self-respect, some kind of pride, self-worth, self-reliance," Gerrard said. "It was a British Victorian kind of society where respectability looked a certain way."
Gerrard has amassed the largest collection of early photographs of Icelandic immigrants to North America. (Icelanders didn't just settle in Gimli but in places like Riverton, Lake Manitoba Narrows, Baldur-Glenboro, Swan River, Piney, Libau in Manitoba; in towns like Cavalier, Mountain, Edinburgh in North Dakota, and Roseau, Minnesota; and in larger cities like Winnipeg, Chicago, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Helena, Montana.)
"A lot of photos that would have ended up in burning barrels and landfill ended up on my doorstep," said Gerrard.
In the process, he has turned into a kind of sleuth for identifying people in those images. He amazes others with his ability to track down the identities of subjects in old photos and put them into a historical context. "Nelson has helped many people find out about their families," Almar Grimson, president of the Icelandic National League in Iceland, said during a visit to Manitoba.
Facebook is also coming in handy. Gerrard will post unidentified photos on Facebook hoping someone can provide a clue.
One thing he has discovered is that Icelandic immigrants had a penchant for being photographed. "I've never come across a body of work of one group that's as extensive as that of Icelandic people," he said.
Why did so many of those Icelandic families spend their meager savings on something so seemingly frivolous as studio portraits? Some families would pose for portraits every few years.



Friday, 27 May 2011

Be wise and Digitise!


Greg Rumney speaks about old photographs at Fortuna Chamber

The Fortuna Chamber of Commerce holds their weekly lunch meetings almost every Monday at the Fortuna Monday Club at noon. Recently the meeting hosted speaker Greg Rumney, owner of The Old Photo Guy Fine Art & Historical Images to speak about the preservation of local history through photographs linked to a website he has created.
Rumney's philosophy is, “Preserving the past for the future, one photo at a time.” He is bringing that dream to life by collecting old negatives and photos from around the area and loading them onto a website he has created at www.oldphotoguy.com. Rumney received a lot of pictures and negatives from photographer Rudy Gillard who has since passed away.
Rumney shared, “I am a Fortuna Union High School graduate from the 70's and have collected over 40,000 historical images.” Images are being loaded in categories on the site as fast as possible, but the task is huge. Some images can be seen at local businesses like State Farm Insurance Don Brown who is a big supporter of the project. Other businesses include Umpqua Bank, Best Western, and Eel River Brewery.
The Old Photo Guy added, “Anyone who has old photos or negatives that they would like to include in the preservation of history is encouraged to contact us. The more information you know about yoyr photos, the better as we can include it on the site. If you have the time check out our site, see if you know anything about the pictures that we can add. You might know some of the people, businesses, or the date it was taken.”



Monday, 16 May 2011

The Domesday Project: Reloaded 1986 -2011

In 1986 the BBC asked one million people to help map the country to give a snapshot of what everyday life was like, with a selection of articles and photographs.

Now 25 years later, the 23,225 photos and 147,819 articles have been compiled to provide a snapshot of the period in an online 'digital time capsule'.

It's now hoped that people will re-engage with the Domesday project to update the picture of life in the UK today.

You can explore Domesday Reloaded in full on the new website


Monday, 9 May 2011

Old Irish Postcards collection: Donegal

An exclusive collection of historic images from Co Donegal to view and purchase.
Over 6,000 photographs, political prints and portraits from days gone by form part of a project launched at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast.
The images, which have been scanned and digitised for an online archive, are on sale to the public through the Belfast Telegraph’s website.
Featuring grand architecture, old family photos and unspoilt landscapes, the postcards give a sense of life in towns and cities across Ireland more than 100 years ago.
From steamships and sports teams to linen mills and political rallies, the images cover the whole of Ireland and date from around 1800 to 1900.

Other collections feature posters for Ulster’s industrial centres, including Barbour’s Linen Works in Lisburn and the spinning mill at Balnamore in Ballymoney. Seaside joke cards and old greetings cards can also be bought from the archive, which displays both black and white and full colour images to peruse.
Monica McErlane, deputy librarian at the Linen Hall Library, said the postcards would “bring back happy memories”.
“The postcards have a really nostalgic feeling — we’ve got pictures of the high street in Bangor circa 1900 and the old Belfast city centre,” she said.
“We’re hoping to reach people who maybe lived here and have since moved away, but want to look back on what things were like.
“By putting them online it reaches a wider audience and also conserves the postcards, as we don’t have to keep the originals on display.



Saturday, 7 May 2011

Museum reunites its photo archives

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Royal Warwickshire Regiment) has recently taken the decision to digitise its unique photographic archive.

The Museum curator, Stephanie Bennett decided that digitising the museums' photographic archive would help to ensure the long term preservation of this unique collection, and also by using the Internet make it more accessible for individuals such as historians, students, genealogist and family history researchers.

Copyright Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum

The Regiment has a long and proud tradition dating back over 300 years to the raising of the first County regiment in 1674. The Regiment boasts of producing some of the British Army's most famous soldiers which includes Field Marshal 'Monty' Montgomery and Field Marshal  Slim KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC.

The museum specialises in enquiries relating to soldiers who served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. It can provide general guidance on family history research and can also help with identifying medals, cap badges, interpreting military records and give advice on photos.

The digitisation services are being provided by Photos Reunited Limited who are also assisting in the process of  meta-data tagging the digital images in preparation for their uploading to the Internet to ensure that each image is searchable.

"It is very important to digitally protect unique photographic archives like this one as they are an invaluable connection to the people from our past" stated Pete Boswell, Founder, Photos Reunited. "We are very pleased that we are able to assist Stephanie and the museum in creating a digital archive from the museums original photographic archive, and we are also excited to be involved in helping to make this archive more accessible online"

Copyright Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum

You can learn more about the Museum and its exhibits by visiting their website: http://www.warwickfusiliers.co.uk/

Learn more about Photos Reunited and its digitisation services by visiting their website: www.photosreunited.com


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Photo collection takes Saigon down memory lane

A private collection of 19th century photographs of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, have been released by architect Doan Bac and his father Doan Thinh.

Known for their collection of old photographs of different places in Vietnam, the one on Saigon seems to have deeper roots than others.

The photos were posted on the website kyuc.com on April 30 and May 1. 

They had surprised many with an exhibition of rare photographs on Hanoi last year, but the ones on Saigon are older by 20 years.

The Saigon photo collection (1860 to 1909) is divided into four sections: an overview of the city; the Saigon River; people; and architecture.

Bac said that Saigon did not have distinguishing architectural features like Hanoi or Hue city. 

“We can see French bricks and Chinese tile-roofed houses go along with the Vietnamese thatched cottages,” he said.

They (father and son) have only restored some of their photos to introduce to the public due to time and financial constraints, Bac said. He said he hopes to organize a photo exhibition or publish a book on their collection on Hanoi and Saigon.