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Treasure photos as part of a family's identity
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Memories exist in minds and hearts, but much of how Americans hang on to their past is through photographs and videos of special people, events and places.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed many Mississippians' sentimental items, videos and photographs. Family and friends can help them recover some of their loss at the holidays by sharing copies of their own photographs that include people and places of importance to them. Others can let the holidays remind them to preserve this treasure so they can pass these photographs and videos on to future generations.
Patsilu Reeves, family life education specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said family history is one of the most important factors in building strong families and keeping them together.
“In America especially, our family history is kept in pictures and videos,” Reeves said.
This history can be lost by a disaster, or it can be lost to neglect.
“Many of our grandparents and great-grandparents have a treasure trove of unmarked photographs tucked away in boxes. If they passed away tomorrow, no one would know who was in those photos, where they were taken or what significant event they marked,” Reeves said.
Reeves is organizing Memories for the Holidays, an effort to encourage people to collect and organize their own family history, and share copies of what they have with family members who may have lost their own pictorial history.
“Try to reclaim the memories before they are lost forever,” Reeves said. “For a holiday project, some of the seniors in the family could get together and put names to the people along with dates and places to the photos. Write down the story behind the photo or video. Those types of things are precious as time moves on,” Reeves said.
“It is very, very important to have these memories, as they help individuals know where they came from, where they belong and who they are,” she said. “Photographs are the physical proof of their memories and their history.”
Lynn Pike, professor of human development and family studies in MSU's School of Human Sciences, said family photo albums tell a lot about a family, and their loss is felt deeply.
“The photos we take are almost creative representations of what we are,” Pike said. “However we describe ourselves, you can see it very clearly in family photos, so when you loose family photos, you lose a part of who you are and a part of your identity.”
Pike encouraged Mississippians to do a better job of protecting and labeling these photos so they can be passed on to others. She also encouraged those who have lost these treasures to move on and start creating new photos and documenting life as it continues.
Reeves said the new collection won't be the same as the one that was lost, but it can be a good replacement.
“The people who have gone through a disaster have experienced a life altering experience they will never forget,” Reeves said. “Giving them copies of photos they lost or ones that include their home, family, friends and special events will help them fill in their memories.”
Reeves said scrapbooking is a good way to recreate some of what was lost and to preserve memories now.
“It can be part of the healing process to tell the story of your home through photos that friends give you, a sample of wallpaper that you had or in news clips about the disaster,” she said.
Contact: Dr. Patsilu Reeves, (662) 325-3080