Wow, so many of you are excited about finding Janie, just like I am!



Before I introduce more of Janie’s family, you need to know about Harry and Edna.


A few years ago photographer Jeff Phillips found more than 1,000 slides at a thrift store. All from the same family. Most completely anonymous. After looking through hundreds of slides, he came across one labeled Edna, and one labeled Harry.


Jeff’s intrigue and curiosity about the pair led him to Facebook and Twitter where he began posting the photos, asking, “Is This Your Mother?”


It worked. After only 3 weeks, Jeff had the full names of Harry and Edna, and the names of their descendants who were on Facebook. Suddenly he was confronted with the question of how the family would react to his very public search.


Jeff’s search for Harry and Edna inspired me when I realized I had a number of Janie’s pictures. I mean, his project was larger by a magnitude. I only have about 300 slides that I can definitely identify as belonging to Janie’s extended family.


What is the same, though, is not knowing the circumstances by which these slides were given up.


Since my first post about Janie, I’ve learned a little about her. Very little. And I want to share this with you. I have two last names that will help me identify Janie. I’m not going to disclose them here, now.


I want to respect the privacy of the family. Discovering Janie’s name and some biographical details is one thing, but we won’t know her. Photographs can seduce us into thinking we know someone. Even now, we know this. The struggle with Instagram envy is real.


I want to respect the possibility that Janie’s family may have opted to give up the photos. I would like to contact them at some point, but I want to be very deliberate and sensitive about it when I do. If they want these pictures, I will happily reunite them!


For now we can let the story of Janie and her family unfold in a semi-anonymous way. We can use the pictures to talk about the process of photo research, which is one of my areas of expertise. Maybe you have some pictures in your collection of people who you can only identify by a first name. My preliminary search for Janie and her kin can be a model for identifying your people of mystery.


Are you ready for the search? 🙂