Bringing Your Ancestors to Life
Are you digitizing your old film & slides? You never know who you will bring to life if you do......
We have all heard stories about our ancestors. Some good, some bad. Stories of war heroes, larger than life ancestors, and the family “disappointments”. Have you ever wished you could have met some of these individuals? Have you ever wondered if they were really as [fill in the blank] as what you were always told? I do. One way we can “meet” them is to obtain copies of photos, slides, audio recordings, or film.
In 2022, I used a service called LegacyBox to digitize some films I had been given by family to store as the family historian. This is not a sponsored ad and I’m not affiliated with them.
The genealogy community had been raving about this service for a long time so I finally gave it a try and I was not disappointed in the results. I was disappointed that I waited so long to digitize one particular VHS tape that contained film of my WWII Navy Grandpa. That particular item did not digitize well at all. Unfortunately the family member who held the original film has likely died and no one know how to reach her children or grandchildren to find out if the film was kept in the family or discarded.
In 2020, a distant family member on my Brouk side contacted me about several items she held for Harold Brouk, the brother of my Flying Tiger, Robert Brouk. This cousin received Harold’s items because he lived near her much of his later life and since he had no children, she received his personal effects. This cousin sent me two film reels that contained footage of Robert Brouk after his return to Chicago from serving with the AVG Flying Tigers in China/Burma 1941-July 1942.
I wrote a book about Robert’s experience so he would be remembered. If you are unfamiliar with his story, just a few short months after he returned home from China, having survived being shot by the Japanese, he married. Three short weeks later Robert was killed in a plane crash in Orlando, FL while his widow watched him train pilots.
I met his widow Ginny in 2012 for the first time. I wrote her story in my book The Tiger’s Widow, about her time in the Women’s Army Corps after Robert’s death. From photos and Ginny’s stories, I imagined Robert to be a very loving, fun, amazing man. I was not wrong when I finally digitized the films and saw him come to life.
Watch a snippet of a film I had digitized that brings to life Robert Brouk, AVG Flying Tiger. You can read his story and war diary in my book Stories of the Lost.
Flying Tiger/Army Air Corps Captain Robert Brouk
I did have other films and slides digitized since Robert’s films. In a few other films I saw my WWII Navy Grandpa come to life and also my dad as a young boy. These images and films are priceless and I’m grateful to be in possession of such treasures.
Have you digitized your films, audio, photos? What service(s) did you use? What were your results? What did you learn about your family members? Please share in the comments.