Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Second Favorite Thing to do with my Ancestors

I love to do research.  I've been known to work on other peoples' ancestors when I hit an impasse on my own.  But I also love to see the fruits of my labor in my home in the form of photos, and particularly photo displays.  I'm not sure if my family shares my enthusiasm for this sort of decorating, but no one has complained.  Then again, I'm not sure they realize that not everyone decorates in Early American Ancestor!

I like to find common themes in grouping photographs.  This simple grouping to the right is of three brothers - the three sons of Earl and Mary Seeman.  Earl died young, and two of his sons died in middle age.  Here, they are pictured "together."


The next display is a "mother and child" theme.  The top photo is my great-great grandmother, Alfhilde Monsen with her oldest child, daughter Gabriella ("Ella.")   Alfhilde's husband, Gabriel, was a fisherman in Bergen, Norway.  One day he went off to sea, and a storm erupted.  He never returned, leaving Alfhilde to raise her three children alone, struggling to provide for them.

The middle photo is Ella and her oldest child, daughter Lillian.  Ella came to the United States at age 17 to find a better life, later sending for her mother.  She married a Danish immigrant who owned his own bakery, and they raised five children on the plains of South Dakota.

The bottom photo is Lillian with her oldest child, daughter Betty, my mother.  Lillian married a farmer, and they had four children.

If I only had another frame to match, I could have added my mother holding me, her oldest daughter.  But here, the pattern ends, regardless of how many frames I could come up with.


I love to find unusual frames, which means hunting flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales.  Most of the time I have no idea what I'm going to do with my finds, until just the right idea presents itself.  This grouping is one of my favorites.  This standing frame holds only three photos.  I found it at a thrift shop several years ago.  The photos are of my grandmother - as a teenager, as a middle-ager, and finally, in her senior years.  I like the "snapshot" it gives of her life, and the frame itself looks like something she would have had in her own home.


With the displays above and below, I wanted to give a "nod" to our ethnicities.  Above are pictured my husband's family's generations, starting top left with an aerial photo of the family farm in Schleswig-Holstein, and below that, immigrant Hans Seemann, and moving toward right each man's son.  At top is the current generation.  I made one of these for my husband, and one for each of our sons, and I made a similar display for my husband's brother.

Below, I pay tribute to my Norwegian ancestors.  I also learned how hard it is to frame a silk flag squarely!  At the top are my great-grandparents, Andreas and Anne Larsen, pictured in an oak frame made by my father (these were his grandparents.)  To the left is their son, my grandfather Adolph, with my grandmother Agnes.  They left Norway for South Dakota in 1923, with one child and another on the way.  Agnes died at age 48, and Adolph then married his childhood friend in Norway, Lisa, and she joined him in the United States in 1952.  The are pictured at right.  This display honors both of my "grandmothers."


I had two wedding frames, and wanted to put the black and white wedding photo of my in-laws in one, but was at a loss about how to use the other one.  I decided to print a black and white copy of one of our wedding photos, in as similar a pose as I could to that of my in-laws.  This is the result. 


This is a common type of frame - the Tree.  I wanted to do something different with two of the tree frames I have, and I printed pictures of all of the "Grandmas" for them.   I am using these "Grandma Trees" to teach my granddaughters about the women of their heritage.  The five year old knows most of their names, 13 in all, and a little snippet of something interesting about each one.  

I had another tree frame that was reversible, and I made a gift for my daughter-in-law.  Her photo was at the top of the tree, with her mother below, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother after that.  The reverse side held photos of each of her five children.

I hope you've enjoyed these ideas, and I would love to hear (and see) what you've done with your old family photos.  If you have blogged about this, please put the URL in a comment box below. 

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