Manitoba museum using social media to solve history mystery
Pioneer Village Museum posting black and white photos on Facebook
A Manitoba museum is taking to Facebook to get help solving a history mystery.
The Pioneer Village Museum in Beausejour, Man., is scanning photo negatives from the early 1900s and posting them on Facebook hoping to find out who is in them and even where they were taken.
"It's kind of like an adventure," said Trevor Proutt, chair of the Broken-Beau Historical Society and the Pioneer Village Museum.
- Manitoba Museum to begin sharing artifacts
- Moon rock at Manitoba Museum a 'little jewel,' says planetarium manager
The museum, located in the small community about 50 kilometres east of Winnipeg, received a phone call from a local family. A mother had passed away and while her family was going through her estate they came across a small black shoe polish box.
"It was full of these negatives. They knew that they were there, they just didn't know what to do with them," Proutt said.
The museum recently used some money to purchase a special scanner for old negatives and decided to see what kind of story this box would tell.
"We found out that they were from the early 1900s — 1920 to 1930."
Each photo took around 10 minutes to scan but when the images opened up on the computer it was amazing, Proutt said.
Black and white photos show young children with their arms around each other with a sketch at the bottom that says, "Billy & Stanly." In another photo a man stands with his horse tied up in front of a grocery store selling flour, feed and granite ware. Others show Manitoba's highways being built.
"It just shows how much the town has changed and how much it has moved forward," Proutt said.
Proutt said he recently scanned one of his favourite photos but it's not online yet. The photo features an old log house and all of the kitchen utensils are on the wall.
"There are no cabinets. It's just what looks like a wood countertop," he said.
"Nowadays we have cabinets, everything gets put away. The amount of stuff that we have, if it had to hang on the walls, we'd need more walls," he added with a laugh.
Proutt said he's amazed at the responses to the photos online. One man pictured, who is now a senior, spotted himself and contacted the museum.
"With these pictures here … people are saying, 'Hey I remember when it was this'," Proutt said.
Anyone who recognizes the area or the person is encouraged to comment and share their own story on the site.
There are still a lot of negatives to scan but the museum plans to pick around 25 which will eventually be printed and made into a collage. The rest will be included in their digital form in a gallery in one of the museum's buildings.