Them Days sorts through thousands of mystery photos, wants help

A Labrador magazine and archive is asking all would-be detectives to pour through decades worth of photographs, in an effort to help solve multiple real-life mysteries.
Them Days is looking for the public's help in identifying the people and locations in thousands of photos, spanning decades, that were tagged miscellaneous in the magazine's archives. (Them Days )

A Labrador magazine and archive is asking all would-be detectives to pour through decades worth of photographs, in an effort to help solve multiple real-life mysteries. 

"We have roughly about 12,000 plus [images] that need to be [identified]," Terra Barrett, a project researcher with Them Days, told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning

Them Days, iconic Labrador magazine, celebrates 40 years of storytelling

Over the years, Barrett said, about 20,000 negatives were sorted in the archives based on their geographic location.

The problem lies in the fact that one category — miscellaneous photos — grew over the years. 

"They used to be used for places outside of Labrador, like missionaries who were maybe in Germany ... But they just seem to have put everything in 'miscellaneous' at some point."

At least two of the people in this photo have been identified by Them Days after the magazine held a Tea with Terra event in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The man wearing the tie in the centre is believed to be Wilfred Grenfell, and to his right is Joe Blake. (Them Days )

While each photo has a Labrador connection, Barrett said the group no longer knows what those connections are.

Because it's such a small organization, Barrett said there hasn't always been an archivist on site to catalogue donated materials. 

About 2,000 of the mystery photos are negatives that have not yet been digitised. 

Members of the public with information on the people in these photos are encouraged to reach out to Terra and Them Days directly. (Them Days )

Oftentimes, she said, people drop off packages of material containing old photos with little or no information on them.  

"A lot of people -- the donors -- have passed away now so we're going to try to go back, but a lot of times the donors ... may not have known themselves what's in the pictures."

Barrett said each photo contains clues -- buildings, locations, clothing and individuals. 

After holding an Tea with Terra event in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the family in this portrait from 1868 were identified as (from left to right) Elizabeth McNeill, Charlie and James McNeill, and Samuel James McNeill. (Them Days )

At a Tea with Terra event in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Barrett said she was able to learn more information about a few of the photos. 

She said that one woman was able to identify one photo as featuring her great great grandparents and great grandfather.

The photo showed the woman's ancestors posing for a family portrait in 1868.

Barrett said that more work needs to be done to identify the remainder of the photos, a process that will involve hosting similar events in February in Nain, Cartwright and Natuashish

"Other than that, I'll be setting up meetings with community members and 50-plus clubs or seniors clubs in North West River, Sheshatshiu and I'm hoping to get a skidoo ride to Mud Lake."

"It is very much like detective work."

People looking to get involved can visit the Them Days website and Facebook page​


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