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  • Mark Kurtz

Family Photo Album - Revamp!

I recently read an article in Smithsonian magazine about two women that had an unusual shared history, something that neither realized until they were doing some homework on their own family histories which brought them together. The author, Ann Banks, a white woman researching her own family's history, as slave owners, ultimately met Karen Orozco Gutierrez a black woman who was researching her family roots, her great-grandfather having been enslaved, as it turns out, by Ann Banks's great-great-grandfather. It is quite a story and can be found here. (

As I considered this I thought of my own heritage (my dad's side being from Germany, England and Scotland, my mom's side all being from Ireland), and how it might be interesting to research. I gave this some consideration since I had just been working on making a family album, digging into the several boxes of vintage photographs (some of some great grandparents) as well as pulling the digital stuff for the most recent "snapshots". I also created a family tree, although quite limited to only the lineage of my immediate family…otherwise it would have been more like a family forest.

While the idea of starting to research the family tree seems interesting, it can also seem daunting. The family photo album is a great place to start. It is tangible, something we can see and touch, and made up of parts we already have, the pictures…and, if you wanted to go on with the family tree research, from my own experience, the family photo album process gave me a greater sense of who my family was/is and maybe what I would like to better understand.

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