Archives: December 2012

Treasuring, Preserving and Restoring Our Pictorial Heritage

Gerard Turmaine c. 1938

Beloved photo of my late father, Gerard Turmaine at age 4 (c. 1938).

I love photographs. The most important finds for me in my genealogy research aside from supporting documents are treasured photographs.

Perhaps this stems from my own fascination with photography. I’ve been an avid amateur photographer for as long as I can remember. When I think back on it, I’m pretty sure my fascination with the art started in about grade 8 when I photographed local flowers for a school project. I received very positive feedback from the man running the audio visual department when he was helping me with the equipment. He told me that my images were pretty close to ‘professional’ quality.

My hobby progressed through the years until the mid-80’s when I purchased developing equipment to try my hand at developing and printing my own color photographs. This ended in 1986 when my rental duplex burned to the ground. I lost everything including my own photographs. What was worse was that I had also lost a two cube box of family slides and photographs I had borrowed from my parents in order to print some.

We will never get those photos back and it hurts every time I think about it.

Every time I see news footage of people who have gone through losing their homes, whether by fire, flood or act of nature, I’m struck by those whose first reaction is to seek out treasured photos only to be disappointed by their condition. Hurrican Sandy was one such tragedy.

There is hope now for these damaged photographs, at least as far as Hurricane Sandy victims are concerned.

As home owners searched through what remained of their life possessions, a lucky few were able to salvage some of their family keepsakes. Although many family photographs and keepsakes were permanently lost, many more were damaged by the damp, mildew and dirt of the hurricane. Some were able to locate missing photographs when those that were found washed away were posted by the local newspapers, hoping they would be identified and claimed.

It was wonderful to learn that there is hope for these damaged photographs thanks to numerous volunteers knowledgeable in photo restoration who are working tirelessly (and for free) to restore photographs to their original state and return them to their rightful owners.