Grandma's Picture Box

What’s An Orphaned Photo ?


An orphaned photograph is a photograph that has somehow been separated from its family of origin.  Sounds VERY serious, doesn’t it ??  It isn’t … I’ll elaborate ….

For years, as my husband and I wandered through flea markets and antique stores, I was always bothered by the old wedding portraits, baby pictures, school pictures, and other photographs that were for sale.  They were no longer owned and loved by the family who went to great expense to have them done in the first place.  How does that happen?  Well, sure … I know in my head that there are any number of ways that can happen – people die, they lose touch with extended family, estates are sold.  Still, it’s just sad to see those amazing faces in a shoebox on a dusty shelf.

Last year, I began exploring my family’s history.*  I found myself on, and discovered the name of my great-great-grandfather, James Crewe Shelton.  Wait! somebody has a picture of him?????  Sure enough, the person was generous enough to let me copy the photograph to my tree, and I laid eyes on that fierce old gentleman for the first time.  Very exciting !!

As I began to read the blogs of several genealogists, I ran across someone who had  set up a weekend challenge – take a look at an old photo/postcard, glean what information you can, and work together with others on the forum to try to locate the family.**  Her goal is to get those photographs and postcards back into the hands of family.  Not trusting my amateur skills to attempt it on her forum, I decided to give it a shot myself.  I went to a local antique store, bought some of those old photographs, came home, poured a glass of wine, and dug in.  Within two hours, I had my very first hit !!  Found the family, got in touch, sent the original to them later that week, and I was hooked !

After a few months of tackling these old photos and sharing the very cool stories of the people I was “meeting” online and through e-mail, a friend suggested that I blog about it.  And here we are . . . .

My goal is to tell some stories and use this blog not only to present my successes, but also to reach out in hopes of locating family for my more challenging photographs.   There are several folks out there doing the same thing, and I love all of their blogs … they have inspired me and encouraged me, and I hope I can make a positive contribution to their community.  I’ll post links to their blogs as my own comes together – I’m new at this !

* Attempting to blog that, too … in for a penny, in for a pound !!  Check me out at

** Check out Caroline Pointer’s challenge at