I’ve been going through old pictures: scanning, tagging and posting them to my library. My Dad brought several albums on his recent visit from which I collected about 200 photographs.

In organizing the pictures, I tag them by who (people), where (location), when (date) and what (event, such as a birthday). For older pictures, gathering all this data can be difficult and requires some detective work.

A typical thread starts with a photograph and possibly some context:

  1. Who:
    The children are my Dad (standing) and my uncle (sitting); the adults are probably Edgar and Martha Hertha.
  2. What:
    Emigration to Canada
  3. When:
    The time is around 15-19 September 1929
  4. Where:
    The location is Germany, probably Hamburg or Bremen

So, first question is who are the two adults in the picture. The man seems to have a strong family resemblance. I know my grandfather had two brothers: Edgar and Rudolf. I know this because of the death notice of my great grandfather:My Dad said Edgar lived in Hamburg (and worked for a shipping company) and from the death notice (albeit almost two years before) Rudolf isn’t married and the couple in the picture seem to be. Hence it is likely Edgar, but if not, then Rudolf. If Edgar, then I know Martha’s name from the tombstone of the Hertha plot in Sonneberg.
Determining the event being photographed is based on the context of other photographs on the same album page:
The relationship is further confirmed by the light house in the background as well as the nautical-looking thing the people are hovering around.

Can we get the exact time? Yes. Passenger lists and immigration data are often on line. As I know they were coming to Canada, all I need to do is search the immigration data for the period between the late 20’s and early 30’s and see what comes up. What I find is that they arrived in Quebec on Sept 29, 1929. The crossing was typically about 10 to 14 days, but this I can confirm by checking the passenger lists for the SS Koln , which I will do later.

But there’s more. It is often interesting what some detective work will come up with. As I was looking for confirmation of the above picture I came across two other passenger lists, one from 1913 (Hamburg to New York) and another from 1922 (Bremen to New York), both including my Grandfather.


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