Orphan Photos and Found Pictures in the News

“You can’t save them all.” When I mentioned to a friend how painful it is to see an abandoned family photo she reminded me of all the thousands if not millions of images are out there lost to family. She’s right. I can’t save every photo I see, but my new Instagram account @photodetective is my small part to try to reunite these forgotten photos with relatives.

This week two news stories brought attention to the problem we’re all facing. What to do with all those pictures our parents and grandparents left behind? In many cases, those photos get trashed. It happens every day!

The New York Times and a Street Discovery

Debra Acosta, a reporter for the New York Times, found slides on a sidewalk in Manhattan.  She followed them like breadcrumbs to a trash bag full of hundreds of Kodachrome slides. Now she’s asking for help identifying the slides and the people who once owned them. Names and addresses on envelopes in that trash bag led to some surprising discoveries. A photographer, a publisher, a camera shop and a magazine publisher are all connected to these incredible slides that once likely had a home in a storage locker.  Acosta used FaceTime Live to broadcast her mission.  Spend a few minutes and watch this amazing video.

Students On the Case

One group of students at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts took a class on Lost and Found Photographs and now they are trying to piece together the story of a photo album and reconnect it with living relatives. Here’s the story.

I know how these images were abandoned.  In the New York situation, the owner of the storage locker died and no one paid the fee.  Thus these images ended up on a sidewalk exposed to the elements.

The photo album from England was once part of a memory treasure trove for the person who put the album together. When they died, they either left no descendants or their family no longer felt a connection to those family photos.

Don’t let this happen to your family photos!  Identify a person in your family that will care for your photos.