Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ghost in the Machine: Googling My Grandfather

With round the clock baby feedings, we've watched a lot movies lately. One blurry night Jim watched a movie about the early days of the US Forestry Service. While I can tell you absolutely nothing about the film beyond the fact the protagonist wears a hat, the movie triggered an impulse to Google my grandfather's name and former employer (USFS).

My grandpa retired before I was born, so I didn't really expect to find anything online. The first hit was a direct one at at the Forestry History Society. It turns out I could get a copy of my grandpa's biography file by mail for free. Cool.

In response to my file request, the Society's archivist wrote:

If you search the Quick Search box of our Image Database for your grandfather, you can find 6 photographs that were taken by him. Two show images of what appears to be the same man. Your grandfather, perhaps?

Unknown pictures of my grandpa appearing 4 decades after his retirement and over 1 after his death? Really cool! But only imagined. When I looked at the files with the man, I didn't see my grandpa. Then I clicked on the other images.

And there stood my dad in 1940s knit skater's cap and tiny bomber jacket. He was a little younger than Ranger is now.

Cheryl, the archivist, sent me the full scan of the negative and I had new prints made for my dad, Ranger, and myself.

Behold, ghosts in the machine.


Lone VVolf said...

It can be really addicting, find ancestors, and family connections. Take a look at for excellent family tree management, and get addicted! :)

Mimi-n-Moe's Mom said...

Very cool! I bet your father was happy to get this photo!

We are *struggling* over here to get back into a routine...Holidays and having daddy home really threw us off!

Have a good week! ~Karen

Francie said...

Kudos on making such lovely discoveries. Especially the photo of your very young dad!

I love that you share your discoveries with all of us~

Michael Phillips said...

In 300 years, historians will look back and call these decades the last few before the beginning of history, the era when the ubiquitous recording of history on the personal level was just getting started. I love that your grandfather's picture was something that you were able to pull out of an archive from your living room.

Unknown said...

Wow! What a neat story and awesome discovery.