Giving Instant Ancestors New Life

by 2ndhandroses on 2014/03/12

Somebody's Great-great Auntie Violet Somebody’s Great-great Auntie Violet



By now, if you’ve read any of my posts, you have probably come to the conclusion that I am pretty fascinated with old photographs.


Not any old photographs, mind you.


While I may enjoy an occasional shot of a vintage aircraft or anonymous road, what fascinates me most are people.


And the lives they led.


I call them Instant Ancestors.


I keep finding them and writing about them because for some reason they intrigue me and make me a little bit sad too.


I wonder what would motivate some family to throw out a photograph of their loved one.  I see these faces stacked in boxes in antique shops, ranging from daguerrotypes, to cabinet cards, to black and white shots from the 1950s to Polaroids to formal portraits.  Each one makes me stop for a second and consider the face peering out from within the confines of the image.


I wonder…what was that person (or people if it’s a group shot) like?


What was going on that day?


Why did they dress that way for their picture?


Why did they pick that particular moment to have that photograph taken?


And why did that memory ultimately become worthless?


In my travels down the Junktiquing Road, I have seen these photographs over and over and have always been struck by these and other questions.


Lately, I have taken to bringing a lot of these photographs home and framing them or displaying them in different ways around my house.  My poor husband will come home and see a new (to him) old photograph and ask, “who’s that?”


My response is usually, “I have no idea.”


But I felt that the person in that photograph needed a home again and needed to be displayed and given a new life, so to speak.


And so we come to the subject of showing these precious photographs off.  Now I am a wee bit crafty, but having been trolling Pinterest for the past year or so, I realize now that I am woefully lacking in the creative department when it comes to really shining new light on these old lives.


I’ve found some cool ideas I wanted to share with you, in case you wanted to show off your newest photograph of dear old great great great uncle Melvin.


So far, I’ve just been framing them in regular old frames.  I know, BORING.


How about this….


You could put them in privy dug bottles!  What a concept!  They look fabulous on a shelf as you can see below.


Instant Ancestors in a Bottle Instant Ancestors in a Bottle


Or you could transfer them onto a notepad.  Check these cool vintage photos out I found on Etsy!


Instant Ancestors on Notepads Instant Ancestors on Notepads


Or if you are so proud of anonymous vintage faces, you can wear them on your jacket or backpack!  Check out these cool pins I found!


Wear Great Granny on Your Sleeve! Wear Great Granny on Your Sleeve!



Then of course there are the typical Pinterest genius ideas of upcycling things like old birdhouses, windows, any one of a plethora of old wires or frames, and most likely a pallet (of course).


Displaying your instant ancestors, thanks to Pinterest, is easier and more fun than ever.  There are many creative folks out there that can help you create your perfect homage to Darling Great Great Great Auntie Bessie. 


Bessie and Her Sisters Bessie and Her Sisters



Be daring and spend an afternoon (yes, it will suck you in with its power to enthrall….) on Pinterest.  I guarantee you will find a way to show off your Instant Ancestors in style.


My first advice on how not to grow old would be to choose your ancestors carefully.

—- Bertrand Russell


Photos courtesy Rachelle Wise, historicallydestash on Etsy, and Anna Roth.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise 2014/03/12 at 2:36 pm

This is another great post. I think I will go check out some of those ideas on Pinterest. Not sure about the pallet LOL

Barbara VanTilburg 2014/03/13 at 7:58 am

Another brilliant article. Thanks!!

2ndhandroses 2014/03/13 at 8:20 am

Thanks, Barb! Appreciate it. Hope it has inspired you to pick up a few instant ancestors of your own!

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