Through the wee morning hours, a couple of years ago, while my partner studied through the night, I would be on the internet, researching on history websites and their chat rooms. My quest was simple, to complete a chapter of my family history research, I needed to find a Photo of my paternal Great Great Grandparents.
The quest brought much frustration, the random claims of fact and the endless threads of misinformation. They all lead to naught and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, that I would never find anything of value.
I kept imagining what my Great Great Grandparents might look like and I was sure a Photograph had to exist, either separately as children or as young adults finding their way along life's path or even together in Marriage. They were both too active in society for there not to be a Photo out there, somewhere. Imagining an old family photo, lying lost in a basement, in a bottom drawer somewhere, forgotten and waiting to be discovered, I continued the quest.
Relentlessly I searched the internet for the elusive photo, but I continued to be frustrated by the volume of misinformation. Until one night, out of despair, I exclaimed,
there had to be a way, we just need to authenticate all the lost photos, in all the bottom drawers around the world, in some sustainable way, that everyone could connect to, then we could discover them . . . forever. Imagine ! If it were possible.
Surely I thought, someone must be able to do that. How hard could it be to come up with a worldwide methodology to preserve, validate, discover, and share all these lost treasures ?
A bit more time went by, as I continued to visit history chat rooms filled with fantastic stories that could have lead me to believe were mine. There were just so many unvalidated stories pinned to photos and family research. It was confusing, but it also seemed to erode the truth from our history, as it was being rewritten, over and over again. Surely, an existing website could make a go of providing a solution?
But as I looked around, the problem seemed to get even worse. I began to notice just how much of our history was being moved from our dear old Grandparents' bottom drawers, into boxes in library basements and Historical Society back rooms, with little chance of it ever being preserved, catalogued, or shared. The scale of the task was just too immense for the armies of hardworking volunteer non-profit Groups. Our history was becoming ever increasingly lost forever.
There just had to be a better way, to preserve, validate, discover, and share all our precious history. Imagine ! If it could be done.
Welcome to The Global Social History Project.
Andrew Gildea of Finders Cafe spoke with Spencer Howson of 612 ABC Radio, Brisbane, Australia, discussing The Global Social History Project and how it works. You can hear the interview directly from the 612 ABC website
ps. I am still looking for that elusive photo of my Great Great Grandparents, but now with more confidence.