Sharing Your Life History Through Photography
Do you adore the mystery and charm of a vintage black and white photo? Do you ever study the photo to see the fashions, and unfamiliar objects? Do you get excited when you find a handwritten note on the back telling the year, the location, or the people in the photo?
The thought of writing a life history can be overwhelming. But, one way to leave a legacy is through photography and storytelling. And, when you take it one picture and one story at a time, the potential overwhelm is replaced with fun!
While I'm thankful for this beautiful photo of my grandmother, I'm even more grateful that I know the story behind it.
This beautiful young woman is Wanda Lee and this portrait was taken her senior year of high school. It's also the year that my grandmother's English teacher gave her the assignment to write one page about each year of her life from birth to present. I'm forever grateful to that English teacher for the gift of that assignment!
One memory from her senior year was being the editor of the school paper, she writes, "I was elected president of the senior class and editor of the school paper, “Pirate Plunder.” The Pirate Plunder took lots of time and I got lots of purple hands but it was fun."
Through these details I'm able to learn about the activities she was involved in and some of the history behind school papers in 1947.
Some of her classmates that year were returning from World War II. She comments, "Our class had many parties this year. WWII was over and soldiers were coming home and some were returning to school. We had several returning navy and army guys who came into our Senior class who graduated in May 1947. Therefore, we had a Welcome Home party for them."
Her purple fingers also wore an engagement ring her senior year. She told my grandpa Jack that she would marry him as long as she could finish her senior year of high school first. They were married in August of 1947 just a few months after she graduated at the age of seventeen. Here is the only portrait I have ever seen from their wedding day.
Their wedding took place at her parent's Kansas home on the farm, but had a delayed start because her father was late to the ceremony and they had to wait for him to arrive so that he could give her away. Then the newlyweds were off to a 3-day honeymoon in the Missouri Ozarks.
Certainly, the pictures of my grandmother leave a beautiful legacy, but knowing the stories of the woman in these photos makes the picture complete. When she wrote down some of her memories of her life in 1947, I'm sure she had no idea the incredible window she was creating into her life and history for her children and grandchildren. However, her stories have given me a greater connection and appreciation for her and I find myself wanting to display more of her photos because with each photo I see, I can hear the story too.
Janna Antenorcruz is the founding editor of Mommy's Piggy Tales: Record Your Youth. Inspired by her grandmother's stories of growing up, she created a blog where mothers can have friendly accountability and encouragement to record the memories of their youth in 12 posts.
Do you know the stories behind the photos of your grandparents? What one thing can you do this week to share the stories behind your photos with your children?