Revolutionary Voices: A Last Muster Film, Photos and Stories Make History Come Alive

I don’t know about you, but I love photographs! Although talented artists drew and painted images in the likeness of those around them, revolutionary-war-042I am grateful to live in the photographic era. Photography has gone through many developments, even in my own lifetime. My first experience with this medium was in elementary school as I boarded a bus. I was given a camera to take along on a school field trip to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. I was reminded of this when I heard Maureen Taylor’s story of the photographs of men who fought in the Revolutionary War. It was then that I was transported back to the place of my first photographs, which were black and white, and the stench of a replicated cabin. I will never forget that smell!

Almost every American child learns about the Revolutionary War multiple times throughout his or her school years. Learning from a textbook is rarely engaging with just words on a page and a picture or two representing the entire experience. For close to a decade, Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective, has acquired over 200 photographic images of people who were alive during the Revolutionary War period who lived to experience the beginning of the photographic era. She’s researched their stories, found journals and documents, and visited the historic sites in relation to some of these individuals. She has published two books on the subject, The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation with Joan Severa and David Allen Lambert and The Last Muster, Volume 2: Faces of the American Revolution, which will be released on May 10, 2013.

Now, Maureen has joined with Verissma Productions to bring these Revolutionary War stories to life for us, those around us, and those that come after us in Revolutionary Voices: A Last Muster Film. Back in February, Maureen and Verissma launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $27,500 to begin production. I am happy to report that the initial goal was surpassed this past week :-) Now with only a few days to go, the campaign continues. With additional funding there can be some upgrades in the production. I love upgrades :-)

According to the website:

  • If [they] make it to $32,500, [they] can include high end Video Graphics in the short version of the film
  • If [they] reach $35,000 [they] will be able to hire an associate producer to do pre-production for the entire hour-long film
  • If [they] finish with $37,500 [they’ll] hire a researcher to negotiate music / photo rights for the entire film.

As I said, I like upgrades and I know Maureen Taylor does quality work. I am convinced that the fruition of this film will provide generations with a solid anchor of knowledge of this time in history and the lives of those who experienced it. If you would like to contribute to this project you can do so until Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:59pm EDT. Contributions can be as little as a dollar, but there are incentives for specific levels of donation.

When a person is doing genealogy and family history, major events in history, as well as minor acts, create the context for the intricate involvement that spans people, places, and time periods. Please consider supporting this projects’ higher goals.

Now, I subtitled this post Photos and Stories Make History Come Alive. It is true of all history, even your family’s history. Maureen has written many books that can help you curate your photo collection, including Preserving Your Family Photographs, which is available in both hard copy and Kindle editions through Amazon.com.

This past week, as mentioned, I was reminded of the time and place of my first experience as a photographer. As I reminisced, I also found a forgotten photograph of me at the age of five and my great aunt. I picked up the phone and called her. Now, at the age of 88, she had just returned from the grocery store and we had a delightful conversation :-) This week, take some time to reminisce and, if so inclined, pick up the phone. Someone may be waiting to hear from you and you will be making history!

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

A Case for Preserving an Independent Medium

Imaging Equipment WP

As genealogists and family historians, we passionately seek to preserve the past. Questions are answered, understanding is gained, and the wisdom and folly of the ages are passed on to the next generation as we publish our research. In order to recapture the past, records and other artifacts are necessary to reconstruct it. Technology has provided incredible opportunities to amass what remains and to record the activities of the present day. There is no question that digital preservation has expedited research and placed records in the hands of the world. No one in the future will have to question what we ate, where we went, or even how we felt day to day as social media documents these experiences. But does the advances of digital preservation negate the necessity of preserving the original form? Can we justify the destruction of an old picture or document?

A printed photograph is preserved on an independent medium. Documents on quality paper have lasted hundreds, even thousands, of years. Nothing else is required to view, enjoy, and recapture the memory.  Although we know that conditions have rarely favored the preservation of these items, think about the limitations of the many dependent forms of media. Electricity goes out, batteries die, and networks get disrupted. Can you remember a time when your connection to the Internet was unavailable? Did it come at a critical time? How long did it last? How long could it last?

Although an independent medium has the limitation of number, therefore, found in one location, it is still nice to have a record or artifact in this form. I know of no material that is completely indestructible, but the independent nature of paper, stone, or metal is appealing. This is not to suggest that other ways of preservation should be ignored. It’s just that it seems ironic that if we want to preserve something we would destroy an original.

As we consider preservation, we must remember that provenance is an important principle in the field of genealogy and family history. Provenance is defined as “the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object.”1 When we destroy an original we disrupt this path. As we seek a source, we never reach the end of that particular journey even though we are encouraged to trace our sources back to the original. This becomes impossible to do if we are destroying them.

In addition to preservation in an independent medium, using technology and having multiple copies in different formats backed up to your devices and migrating your data as we progress on our technological journey will assure the best chances of survival. Coupled with all of these advancements, preservation in an independent medium has its place among us as the keepers of  records. As we find our ancestors, let us consider provenance and the preservation of the records and artifacts they left behind.

1. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), “Provenance,” rev. 6 Mar 2013

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.