Old family vacation photos may seem boring to some, but I find them to be interesting clues to a family’s location, leisure activities, and socio-economic status. Many families, including my own, worked long, hard hours with little time to spare for lengthy, expensive trips far away from home. While tracing one branch of my family’s movements in the first half of the 20th century, I began to take a closer look at the dates and locations on the backs of the pictures for clues. Of course, several photos had nothing, but many had a stamp from the developer or a handwritten notation.
In my grandmother’s things was a series of photos taken at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, GA. The series features grainy shots of my grandmother with her daughter, grandchildren, and a niece. The pictures of the relatives are not that spectacular; their faces are barely recognizable. If it weren’t for the comments on the back, it would be hard to tell who’s who. What is interesting to me is that the July 1949 date corresponds with oral stories of the family being in the Atlanta area at the time. A short trip with “the kids” to the cool spring waters of a nearby state park makes sense because it puts the family in that area in time, doing a low-budget but enjoyable activity.
My favorite snapshot is the old mill, taken in July 1949:
I love the quirky messages on the backs of old photos. Here is the back of the photo above, in what appears to be my grandmother’s handwriting:
Not only do I have another clue about the family’s location in 1949, I also hear my grandmother’s voice in the tongue-in-cheek comment about the water wheel not turning. Sometimes it’s good to just enjoy the hunt for clues and the surprises that come along. The genealogical proof standards and citation-writing can wait for another day.