Is it important to keep the memories of people from the past alive? I believe it is and one that will get increasingly harder as time goes on, let me explain.
Just before Christmas I found a bag of old photographs at the back of a wardrobe that had belonged to my mum and had never been sorted, they were between 55 and 65 years old. I have been interested in my family history for many years and did spend time with her going through albums and naming the people in them, but these had escaped that process. As she had passed away a few years ago I could not ask her about these.
So on Christmas afternoon rather than scrolling through social media feeds as a family we spread the images out on the table and started to sort them. Most were of me as a child, my parents and grandparents, but also some of people we did not know. My daughter really took to this and wanted to know who everyone was in them and any stories behind them. I was astonished that I knew a lot of the people in them, cousins who I have not seen, apart from online, for years and uncles and aunties who had passed away long ago.
My daughter sorted them into relevant piles and it soon became clear we had quite a large pile of images that were labelled "unknown people". This struck me as being rather sad as at some time these people had been important to my mum to have photographed them. Very few had names on the back and as there was no longer a link to any of my mum's generation these people would remain a mystery to us.
The images have survived for 50 years but were not looked after very well and this is another concern, if not removed from the bag when I did what condition might they have become. I will now scan each of these, put them into albums (with names of course) and will get a few photobooks made, hopefully this will preserve the memories.
We then moved onto the more modern albums of my own, with my daughter photographing these on the phone and sharing them online, which got me thinking will the current generation be able to do what we did in 50 years. With photos posted online will these platforms still be around then? Who remembers Myspace and had things stored on there? With so many images taken and few printed will any survive and who will be able to see them, just the person who took them and will they disappear with the account holder? We were able to still view my mum’s memories and talk about her despite her not being here.
I suppose social media have some advantages, you can tag people, but a lot do not and of course people do not use real names, so will future generations be puzzling over who @fluffycat14 was?
So what is the answer? Print out pictures and put in an album with names on them, have photobooks made and talk to them with people, otherwise I can see thousands of people and memories will just fade into the past, which is a sad thought.