Genealogy and Photoshop

I know I’ve complained about modern technology a bit, but I love what I can do with a computer, a scanner, photographs and Adobe Photoshop. All I need is a photograph. It can be old and discolored, or spotted, even torn. If I have enough skill (which I’m not saying I do), I can transform even a small photograph into a beautiful image and make copies for friends and relatives. Amazing.

When I took a class in Digital Photography from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio several years ago, we did a collage project. One of my interests, or hobbies is genealogy (even thought I haven’t blogged much about it as of yet). So I did a genealogy collage of my Mom’s ancestors.

Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote

I’m not a talented artist by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, but I had fun doing this. I put the photos of my mom’s parents and siblings in the bottom right corner. The large notebook paper behind these photos is a page from The Life of Anna Adams Lemmon — as I Remember It. This is a short autobiography that my grandmother wrote in the 1990s. I’ve shared an excerpt in an earlier tribute post I did for Grandma. My mom is the oldest child in the family group shots.

The bottom left corner contains the photographs of Grandma’s parents, Harrison Myron Adams and Katherine Roecker, and her siblings on the farm where she grew up. I had to edit or “fix” most of the older photos.

The small lined and dated papers are entries in Harrison’s journal where he kept track of his farm expenses and profits from the early to mid 1900s. These were a lot of fun to read through. I also included a scrap of paper that contained Harrison’s signature.

As you continue up the left side of the page you see photographs of Harrison and Katherine as they aged and with grandchildren (my mom and her sister) in the smaller photo and great-grandchildren (my two older sisters) with my mom and grandma in the four-generation photo at the top. My dad was always big on shooting four-generation photos.

On the upper right are photographs of my grandfather’s mother (Mary Etta Lemmon) and another four-generation photo with my sister, mom, grandfather and great-grandmother. All these people have fascinating stories, as I’m sure your ancestors do as well.

Underneath it all is a photo of one of a million doilies my grandmother crocheted.

Without my computer, scanner and Photoshop, I could have made a collage, but I would have either had to ruin single heirloom copies of photographs by cutting and pasting them, or had to get copies made at a photo store. Without Photoshop, the pictures, in some cases, would have been dark, scratched and torn. I would have been limited by the size of photographs I had to work with.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy hands-on cut and paste projects. Dad and I are currently (and quite slowly) working on a photo scrapbook. We’ve done pages of his parents and early childhood, the houses he lived in as a child, and his siblings. The next pages we will do will be about the time he spent in the army in Germany. I printed out copies of scanned photos to use. I read somewhere that this was a good project for someone with Alzheimers because you can use the book to help them remember if they start to forget. So far it seems like Dad remembers who we all are, and who the people in the photographs are. He’s not very good at hand-writing anymore, though. So that’s been something of a challenge.

I guess in some ways I follow in my dad’s footsteps. When my son, daughter-in-law and grandson came to visit in April, I made sure we got a four-generation photograph. Maybe it will show up in somebody’s digital (or even more high-tech) collage someday.

Mom, Me, Dad, Michael and Luke - April 2011 — Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote
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8 thoughts on “Genealogy and Photoshop”

  1. Tracing my genealogy (both parents) and my husbands (both parents) has been one of the most interesting and rewarding projects I’ve undertaken. I hope someday my children will appreciate all that information.

  2. Very nice montage!

    I’m the photographer in the family, so I rarely turn up in the photographs themselves.

  3. Modern technology is amazing! I’ve had so much fun creating images with photoshop, when it goes well and hours cursing my lac of knowledge when it does not. but it’s fun learning. I am just going through all our old family photos and I love the way I can create a slideshow on my PC as a screensaver.
    Has anyone else tried this?

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