Over the course of my time working at the West Hants Historical Society, I have perused our shelves often. I peek into cabinets and rifle through drawers, always finding something that can pique my interest. Working here is almost like being Indiana Jones; you’re constantly discovering little treasures (although they usually aren’t made of solid gold).
However, on my little excursions to our storage rooms, I have found an abundant amount of unmarked photos. All they have to identify themselves as a part of our history is an accession number so that they can be distinguished within our database. There is usually nothing else. The photos are often of people; there are no names, no dates and no listed locations. It is easy enough to imagine the kind of life they would have lived, what they enjoyed to do or even why the photo had been donated to us. Obviously someone had, at one time, sincerely believed that the photo was a significant part of our past and would be at home here in the museum. The photo had meant something to someone.
This topic was revisited by some of the guests at our recent Historical Show & Tell. There was discussion about how many photographs had been passed down through the family, but there was no one who was able to identify the photos any longer. They didn’t know much about the boxes of photos they had other than they must have been relatives; a piece of their family history. The entire group consented that yes, they would want to be able to learn more about the aged photos in their possession…they wanted to put a name to a face.
The conversation we had made me consider what we as a Historical Society could do. After all, our mission is to preserve and share the history of our area. So this project–Putting a Name to a Face–is dedicated to identifying the people in our unknown photographs. We want to learn about who they were and how they are a part of our history. In order to piece together their stories, we are going to need the help of the community. After all, this is everyone’s history. Together, we can ensure that everyone is remembered and recognized in our area.
This project will be ongoing and each week, a new unknown photograph will be made public. We can use both our knowledge and our resources to try and reveal the identities of these faces. We will accept any information about the featured photographs on Facebook, our website, our email or by phone.
I hope that this project can spark a conversation about the importance of preserving our history and what we can do to ensure that no one becomes an unknown picture.
Acadia, Summer Student