Who Are These People?

This photograph has been around for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, it was in a big box of unsorted photographs my mother kept in a cabinet in the living room. I used to love going through those old photographs, spreading them out on the coffee table and looking at them individually. Many were people I knew — my mother as a child, my Scottish grandparents and great aunts and uncles. This one, and a few others of this girl, fascinated me because they were taken in Scotland and were family members that I had never met. I imagined going to Scotland and meeting this girl and pictured us running through hills of heather together, although I knew that of course she wouldn’t be a girl at all anymore, she’d be my mother’s age or even older. I remember asking my mother who they were and her answering rather vaguely that she thought this was [someone] and her daughter [someone].

But who? I don’t remember what she said, and there’s no one else left who might know. It looks like it was taken in the 1920s, which was when my grandparents emigrated. Was this taken on an outing before they left, or sent to them in a letter later? Was this the wife and daughter of one of my grandmother’s brother, William and James Ross, who remained in Scotland when their mother, stepfather and four sisters left for America? Or was my grandfather the photographer, and are these members of the Rennie side of the family? I’ve done a little work on Ancestry.com, trying to figure out possibilities, but I have no idea.

I love the photograph anyway, especially the smiles on their faces and the comfortable affection of the girl’s pose. Someday I hope I’ll solve this mystery. I’m hoping that someone else has another copy of this photograph, or other photographs of this woman and girl, and they’ll find this scanned image or I’ll find theirs and we’ll connect. Stranger things have happened. I truly believe that photographs have a way of finding their way home.

In the meantime, I post this as a reminder to everyone to identify everyone who is in a photograph. When photos are new, it’s so obvious who the people are that there’s no reason to record this information, but as the years pass, photographs (printed or digital) can get scattered, and the information can be lost.

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