Wednesday, 2 May 2007

What photographs can tell us

I was sent the photograph below from Canada. It was in a huge padded envelope with many other wonderful photographs. My mother's cousin Violet, had sent them to me because I was interested in family history and also because she thought they should be passed on before she died as she had no one to leave them to. I was so please to receive them as you hear so many tales about photographs being destroyed when someone had died and other family members aren't interested in or even care about the past.

The photo was taken in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. Possibly c. 1912. My mother wasn't sure where but she thought maybe Swanwick Avenue or Strutt's Yard. It is in very bad condition but we've been able to scan and clean it and then crop it to reveal more of the people on it; below is a new version.

The photo shows my great-grandmother with her twin grand daughters. The two girls were called Olive and Violet and I would guess that this photo was taken on the eve of their emigration to Canada. They look to be identical twins and they are holding identical bears, gifts to take with them from a doting grandmother? Olive died in 1914 of diphtheria, my great grandmother died in 1915, Violet died in 2002. I wonder which of the children was Olive and which one was Violet? The garden looks to be in a bit of a mess, perhaps some work had been going on - digging and planting perhaps? Is there a gap in the lace curtain in the window where someone is looking through? Also I wonder who took the photograph as it isn't a 'professional' studio one.