1-24  The First Twenty-Four
25-48  The Second Twenty-Four
49-72  The Third Twenty-Four
73-96  The Fourth Twenty-Four
97-120  The Fifth Twenty-Four
121-144  The Sixth Twenty-Four
145-168  The Seventh Twenty-Four
169-on  The Eighth Twenty-Four

49  Pure Michigan
50  Ah, Youth
51  Unlikely Friend
52  Golfballogy
54  Before/After Squared
55  Hawaiiana 1
56  Hawaiiana 2
57  Hawaiiana 3
58  A New Outlook
59  Hawaiiana 4
60  Crash Dummy
61  Dogs, Boards, Kids...
62  Photographic Treasures
63  Hawaiiana 5
64  My Comb is Crooked
65  Call Me A Doctor
66  Hawaiiana 6
67  Home for Christmas
68  Led By Words
69  Pono Bowls
70  Poppy Tour
71  An Invitation
72  Wunderkammer I




…cars, buildings, clothes, locations, weather, labels, notes – everything is important!

Judi, my first cousin once removed, inherited a pile of photos and memorabilia from my mother’s parents and three of mom’s siblings, Judi’s grandfather included.  Recently, she conned me into an agreement to sort, scan, ID, label, and otherwise “process” them.  I am well along with the process and having a great time.  I’m not sure who conned whom.

Most of the pics are my relatives so identification of persons has not been much of a problem.  The big challenge has been determining the chronology.  I have the critical birth, marriage and death dates and locations.  To my amazement, every little detail on the pics is important and presents valuable chronological clues.  Here are some of my experiences.

You know how photographers will include a yardstick in the picture when size is a factor?  From birth to about 20 years old, my first cousin Roland lived near and sometimes with my maternal grandparents.  Mom had 8 brothers and sisters and the family was quite close.  Whenever a camera came out, the aunts and uncles would grab Roland.  Roland was a living temporal “yardstick”.  Watching him grow gives a pretty good estimate of chronology.



 Chronological yardstick





The grandparents built a cottage on Lake Gogebic in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  From the time the first board was put in place until the last of the aunts and uncles was gone, that cottage was a family focal point.  The cottage went from a small square building through many, many changes over the years and was the background for innumerable pics.  A brief history is presented in Ponogram #24 Lake Gogebic in the Early Years.

Scrutiny of pics of the cottage shows the structural changes, paint jobs, re-roofs, and repairs.  Some changes have relative order (no pun intended) – e.g., the extension of the second floor was never reversed.  Others require a memory of how things were when – porch boards went E-W at one time and N-S another time.  But Roland is still around and he has vivid memories of the place and I share many of them.



Tillner cottage with attic 

 Tillner cottage with raised roof

Second floor was like an attic

Roof was raised and extension added


Porch with 3/4" boards

 Porch with 2" planks

  ľ” boards on porch didn’t last

 2” planks were better



I have very few pics of two of my mom’s sisters, so when I ran across a pic with both of them and their husbands, I was very pleased.  I scanned it and set about finding some reason to assign a year.  The pic was clear with nice contrast.  All four people were vibrant and healthy.  The later marriage of the two couples was 1934.  The earliest death of the four was 1961.  I was about to split the difference when I noticed something familiar in the background.  Peeking over my uncle Pete’s righft shoulder from the buffet was a framed picture.  It was my 1951 high school graduation photo.  Of course it is not certain that this picture was taken in 1951, but it is certainly between 1951 and 1961 and I’m guessing closer to 1951.  I think it unlikely that my photo was displayed for very long after I sent it to them.  Maybe two dustings.



Two aunts, two uncles, and Pono                    Pono graduation 1951 





Here’s a great picture of Grandpa on the cottage porch.  But wait, what do I see in the window behind him?  Why, it’s Grandma, with that mischievous grin on her face!  (Maybe the only one who can see the grin is me, and Grandma is sending it to me in this photo over 75 years.)  Moral?  Never crop a picture until you have examined it thoroughly.



Albert Tillner 

Grandma peeking

 Albert Tillner

 Fredrika Tillner



Along with all the photographs, Judi sent me one of Grandma’s cookbooks.  It is printed in Swedish, Grandma’s native tongue, and is very old and fragile.  Some of the recipes are crossed out, probably having been tried and rejected.  Most of the pages with blank space are covered with handwritten recipes – some Swedish but mostly English.  One bears the date 1911.  Apparently children had access to the book, since there are scribbles here and there.  The inside of the back cover bears a stick figure and I think the word SANDIN!

Tucked into Grandma’s cookbook was a clipping from a newspaper.  It showed the somewhat formal picture of a family with a number of kids and another picture of the same family in the same pose 20 years later.  Apparently Grandma was taken with the concept and perhaps suggested it to her kids.  Whether that provoked it or not, over the years when the family would assemble, it was customary to take one picture with the six girls in birth order, one with the three boys, and one with all nine siblings.  At least six sets of these treasures exist.

Two of these sets were taken by different cameras with different formats.  The first was color, square, and had the printed date Mar 58 in the margin.  The second was black and white, rectangular, with Apr 61.  While scanning, it was easy to treat these as two different reunions.



Tillner girls in 1958 

 Tillner girls in 1958



After scanning all the pics, I set about to recheck and verify identifications and chronology prior to labeling them.  One step in verification was to merge all the pics and view them as a slideshow to watch the aging processes.  That’s when I saw too many similarities in the 1958 and 1961 sets.  The girls were good about birth order, but to wear the same clothing three years apart?  And stand in the same room?  And have the same hairdos?  I don’t think so.

Finally another detail soaked into my spongy old brain.  Whereas all the other reunions tended to be casual dress, or at least sporty, this group was in class A.  And whereas all the planned reunions were in the summer and had pics taken outside, these pics were taken indoors.  Of course, a winter funeral.

Grandma Tillner died 1957-12-27.  Her funeral was 1958-01-02.  Both sets of pictures were taken after her funeral, in her house.  Film from the first camera may not have been developed and printed until Mar 58.  The black and white film may have been developed in 58, but someone may have requested copies in Apr 61.  Two reunions became one funeral.  Even printed markings on pics should be questioned.

Attendees at the funeral were verified with Grandma’s funeral description from the local newspaper.  Information for other photographs was confirmed by other clippings.  I have only begun to download and process newspaper clippings, but they can provide valuable clues of when and where people were.



Newspaper clippings 

       Funeral Description

                        Sample News Clippings





Given a large bunch of photographs, it might be valuable to sort them initially according to physical characteristics like size, shape, black/white vs. color, framed vs. loose, and taken by Land vs. non-Land.  Within these piles, sort further based on markings like dates, batch numbers, photographer names/locations and handwritten notes (all taken with a grain of salt).

These sorts may or may not provide valuable information, but pics with like characteristics MAY be related in some way – taken the same year or by the same individual.  The entire identification, chronology, labeling process is iterative and this sorting should be done at some time, whether early or late may not matter.

When you start looking at the content of the photos, everything matters and can help with chronology and identification.  Here are some things to keep in mind:



individual appearance

shape of head, ears, eyes (esp. helpful with babies), hairdos, hair color, amount of hair (pattern baldness), weight, facial hair

physical conditions

casts, bandages, canes, crutches, glasses, pregnancy


uniforms, fashions, patterns, level of formality


Christmas, birthday, anniversary, wedding, funeral, reunion

“birds of a feather”

people in the pic usually have something in common


buildings, dogs, cars, roads, bodies of water, natural and manmade objects, signs, seasons



I may never be “done” with this process.  I plan to merge a bunch of my pics with this bunch and see what comes of that.  Every time I look through them I see something new that gives me a different perspective and/or causes me to adjust chronology.  However, it is a labor of love and I am very grateful for the opportunity.  OK cousins, send me more!



If you have already digitized your photographs, added dates, names, locations, and labels, shared with others and backed up the digital files in more than one physical location, bless you.  If you haven’t, do so immediately.  Those who come after you will bless you for your effort.  It is sad to have a photograph that obviously meant something to a deceased relative and have no idea who, what, where, or when.