By Submitted Article on May 13, 2020.
History is not just about great events but also personal stories. One of the things we do in the Galt’s archives and with our collections is to help make the colourful tapestry of our area’s past available to everyone through exhibits, programs and research. As you are cleaning during this time of self-isolation, you may come across family photos, letters or other items that you want to donate to the Galt once we reopen. We love seeing the treasures you bring and wish to share with us and, by extension, with your community. We are honoured that you trust us with your family’s history.
One of the most frustrating challenges for us is being unable to tell our collective story fully. The most common word in our database is “unidentified.” It shows up in over 9,000 entries! This happens when we receive photos that do not have enough information to positively identify the people pictured. We would love to shrink that number.
Here are two simple things that you can do while practising physical distancing or isolating at home that can have a big impact on our ability to be good stewards of our collective past.
1. Have a look at your family photos, either physical photos or digital photos on your phones, computers or social media feeds, and write the names of the individuals pictured. Record the information on the backs of the physical photos in pencil, or record the names in the electronic metadata that follows your photos across devices.
If you can’t remember everyone in the photo, that is OK; identify those people you can. Turn it into a bonding activity with physically distant family members via video conferencing, a chain email or group text message. If the picture or object sparks a memory, please write it down or capture it in a video/audio recording.
2. Search our database and if you find an unidentified photo you can identify, please email us with the unique identifier number and the names or message us on Facebook.
These small actions make a big difference and add richness to our collective past.
The Galt Museum has multiple documents and objects in its care related that can help you with your family history research. You can browse our database at collections.galtmuseum.com.
Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.