Who are these people? Where is this place? What year was this? What were they celebrating? Or commemorating?
Over the years, the Newtown Square Historical Preservation Society has received collections of photographs from various sources. They generally come in a box – if we are lucky, they come with some explanation, some names, or at least the person or family who is donating them.
And yet far more often, they are simply pictures, worth a thousand words, but largely a thousand words of speculation about what the subject is and when it was taken.
Who are these school kids? Are any of them alive today? Which school did they attend? What was that parade about–4th of July or Memorial Day? And what year? Who are those veterans marching in the front? What was that intersection? When do you think that was taken? "Is that a ’56 Plymouth? I used to drive one of those when I was in high school."
In an effort to begin to answer some of those questions, the Historical Society is devoting the last public program of the year to just that: we are going to collect some of our most mysterious photos, and project them up on the screen, and invite all of you out there who have community memory–young and old and in between–to help us answer those questions, and to collect oral history along the way.
If you recognize the people or buildings in the picture, then tell us a little about what you know. We will attach that knowledge to the photo, and begin to fill in the gaps in our knowledge about these pictures and about living in this community.
And as long as we have you sitting there with your history caps on, we invite you as well to bring some of your best photos of the community–of special events that you or your ancestors may have attended here, and of the special people and places captured by your cameras over the last 150 years that personal photography has existed.
With your permission, we would then scan your photos that night, and add them to our collection in order to share them with future generations. You get your photo back, unharmed, and we get a digital image to preserve for the future. You have added your individual memories to the collective memory of the community, and years from now, people will be remembering you and thanking you for having the foresight to preserve these wonderful old photos.
We are doing this program next Wednesday, May 16th, beginning at 7:45 p.m., at the Dunwoody auditorium in the Dunwoody Village. We have never done a program like this before–so it will be interesting to see how it works. The program is scheduled to last no more than an hour.
We will not be able to cover our whole collection–but simply want to take that first step. If it is popular, then we will likely re-run it again next year with a new set of photos. The program can only be as good as the audience that is involved. Please pass the word, and bring grandma or great-grandpa out as well.
As always, our gracious hosts at Dunwoody provide refreshments for those who attend–so after the program, stay and chat with us and enjoy the juice or coffee and cookies. We look forward to seeing you there, seeing your photos and sharing your memories of life in Newtown Square.