“I Found Your Nose!” Using Photographs To Help Place Genealogical Identity

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Searching for ancestral names, dates, and places is fun and good, but becomes more real with artifacts and pictures. During personal research this week came unexpected pictures for two of my four-times-great grandmother’s brothers. One of them, Alfred Mosher, had a picture posted online by a distant relative that made me take notice.

Living family normally looks like predecessors in diverse ways. I look more like my mother’s side and my sister looks more like our father’s side. Researching Alfred Mosher, my father’s great-great-uncle, the picture showed my sister’s nose. A personal hobby of mine is trying to see what traits come to each person in the genetic mixing pool. My sister’s nose is not the same as either of our parents or grandparents. Although I am quite sure that she is directly biologically related to our parents, the visual evidence for that feature has never come to light until now.

Corresponding with other researchers on this line brought the photograph of Alfred to my attention. My own observance brought the nose to mind. Having looked closer at the photographs of both relatives, I notice other traits that are similar–the basic facial carriage being the most recognizable. My sister’s hair was curled for the picture, so that is not a similarity, but subtle resemblances of eye placement, etc. when pictures are placed side by side gives me no doubts that my sister takes after this branch of the family for visual comparison, if not for other possible traits. Not knowing a great deal on the activities of this side of the family, I want to find out more. I want to continue researching and finding out whether there are other similar traits beyond the cosmetic. This is the result of finding pictures.

There’s more to a person than a name and a date. Whenever possible, including photographs or other artifacts helps make a concrete connection for descendents and helps install visual evidence of existence. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but make sure to label the evidence with archival-quality implements, and digitize whenever possible.

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