If you still haven’t figured out what your New Years’ resolutions are going to be for 2015, might I make a suggestion? Could you please, please, please, for the sake of your children and your children’s children, and your nieces and nephews, and all the progeny that’s going to be coming down through your family line either through you or tangentially, please take the time to label your old photos.

Take a soft pencil (#2 or softer) and write very gently on the back of the photo. I talked to Lesley at the Fort Collins Archive and she said that labels fall off. And sometimes the ink bleeds through or the gummy stuff on the label affects the photos. And you don’t want to use a pen or a hard pencil both because ink can bleed through, and because the pressure used can bump out the other side of the image. So Lesley recommended writing names/dates/places on the back of the photo very gently with a soft pencil.

Let me tell you why I think this is important. … Better yet, let me show you.

What follows are seven really wonderful photos of people from almost 100 years ago. These are photos that have been preserved, archived, and stored at Colorado State University as a means for all the world to look back at what Fort Collins was like in days gone by. And not a single person in any of these photos is identified by name! Not one! Their names have all been forgotten.

Somewhere, there’s someone related to each of these individuals that would be thrilled to even have just a digital copy of this photo of their ancestor. But they’ll never have it because there’s no way to do a search by that ancestor’s name and turn up one of these photographs.

Young Child - undated

Young Child – undated

Student body officers - 1934

Student body officers – 1934

"Stenogs" - 1887

“Stenogs” – 1887

Officers of the student body - 1928

Officers of the student body – 1928

Freshman Commission individuals-1927

Freshman commission individuals-1927

In the conservatory - undated

In the conservatory – undated

Freshman Commission individual - 1927

Freshman commission individual – 1927

So pull out your list of resolutions right now and add this in: I will set aside time to go through old family photos and label each one. If I do not know who is in the photo, I will contact other family members and see if they can help.

And if you really want to go all out in terms of making resolutions, you can add this in as well: I will scan all of our old family photos and send copies to everyone in my family.

A photo of your great grandmother might be incredibly precious to you. But if you don’t label that photo, then in only a generation or two, the knowledge of who that lovely woman in the photo was will be lost to the sands of time. Even if your descendants wanted to know who the photo was of, they wouldn’t have any way of figuring it out… unless you’ve labeled that photo.

I’m just as bad about this as the next gal. So I’m going to be adding these things to my list of resolutions as well. Let’s make 2015 the year of “Old Picture Identification.” Sure, it sounds mundane and time consuming, but it’ll be totally worth it in the long run.

Feel free to post your progress and your discoveries here or on any of the Forgotten Fort Collins social media sites so we can be encouraged by what’s being accomplished.


Photo sources:

All of these photos are from the Colorado State University online archive. Links to the photos and more information on each can be found below.

Young Child – http://hdl.handle.net/10217/22754
Student Body Officers – http://hdl.handle.net/10217/32407
Stenogs – http://hdl.handle.net/10217/22779
Freshman Commission Individuals – http://hdl.handle.net/10217/32387
In the Conservatory – http://hdl.handle.net/10217/32410
Freshman Commission Individual – http://hdl.handle.net/10217/32401