From Old Negatives to Deep Nostalgia™ Animations: How I Rescued Old Photos of My Relatives

Back in August of 1992, I noticed an article in my local newspaper, The Easton-Times, regarding a local photographer who restored photos. Nancy Darwin had recently rescued thousands of negatives from Rembrandt Studio, a local studio that was downsizing and didn’t have room to store them in their new location. Some of the negatives dated back to the late 1930s. Calling them “priceless heirlooms,” she offered them to the general public in the hope that someone would find their family members’ negatives amongst the inventory.

I made arrangements and dragged my husband with me to look through the massive collection.  We did find five negatives and photo cards for relatives. Here are two of the five treasures we found: a high school senior photo from both my mother-in-law Virginia and my Uncle George, plus their order cards. Virginia and George graduated from different local high schools.

We have never seen these, so they were indeed a treasure.

MyHeritage user – Peggy Shafer

Nancy’s intention was to offer these negatives to the public and after a certain time, to destroy them. I felt that was an awful shame — but fortunately, I was not the only genealogy enthusiast who read the article. Paul Goudy, the Executive Director of the local historical society, also saw it and asked Nancy if she would consider donating the inventory to the society instead of destroying them. She, of course, agreed. Imagine his surprise when a few truckloads of boxes pulled up to the historical society’s building!

I recently contacted the society, The Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society, to find out a bit more about the inventory. Unfortunately, the negatives remain unindexed after all of these years, and they are not currently available for the public to look through. That being said, after my inquiry, they now hope to add it to their “to-do” list and will need to ask for additional volunteers to assist with the daunting task of indexing the many decades worth of negatives. I’ve already recruited some friends, but we’ll have to wait until the society is ready to start the project.

When I mentioned this story in a comment on a Facebook Live session from MyHeritage, the Research team at MyHeritage contacted me and asked to hear more about my experience. They encouraged me to develop the negatives so I could see the photos I’d found properly, which I did:

High school graduation photo of Virginia Schlegel, 1944
Graduation photo of Peggy’s uncle George, 1948

MyHeritage was then able to take those photographs and turn them into these stunning animations:


Thanks to this one individual who rescued thousands of negatives, and to an alert staff member of the historical society, a huge treasure trove of negatives are now safe and sound, waiting to be indexed and digitized. I am grateful to have been able to rescue a few treasures of my own — and now, thanks to MyHeritage, I can see my mother-in-law and uncle in motion. I have to say that the animation tool is so much fun! To see their faces animated had me smiling and giggling out loud!

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Source: MyHeritage Blog https://blog.myheritage.com

Posted On: May 11, 2021 at 08:27AM