Tips from the Pros: Super-Rescuers

from Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

I’ve written about them before, but if you haven’t checked out these websites, you may be missing out on one of your family’s orphans!

Marge Rice, Photo-Rescuer Extraordinaire
In case you’re not familiar with Marge, she gathers orphan photos at flea markets, antiques stores, and so forth, and returns them to family members. On 11 July (drum roll, please), she reunited photo number 1,000 with its family of origin. So far, a remarkable 744 strangers have been the recipients of her generosity. Marge rescued her first photo on 9 September 2000, so that’s an average of more than fourteen photos per month. How’s that for a serious impact by a single individual? By the way, if you want to keep an eye on Marge’s progress over time, bookmark the Marge-O-Meter.

DeadFred, One of the Coolest Sites on the Internet
I’ve always been a fan of Joe Bott and the gang at DeadFred, a terrific photobase site (that is, a database of photos) where anyone can post or search for family photos (now more than 60,000!). This family-based operation got into the rescue sport a little later than Marge, but if you visit the site right now, you’ll see that it reports an impressive 924 rescues. Here’s a little known secret: that figure tends to lag slightly behind the actual count. So I checked in the other day and learned that rescue number 940 had just occurred! Not too shabby, eh?

A thousand thanks to both Marge and the DeadFred gang! Aren’t we all lucky that there are folks like them out there? If you feel the same way, why not drop them a quick note? A little appreciation never hurts! If you’d like to read more about them, here are links to some of my previous articles:

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4 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Super-Rescuers

  1. Hi,

    I just read the article about Marge Rice. How do I access thephotos?

    Janet Johnson

  2. Marge posts descriptions of the photos on the and genforum message boards. To find her messages on the message boards, go to (or click on the “Ancestry Community” button near the top of the web page), type “Marge Rice” in the message board search box, click on FIND, and you will see the many messages that Marge Rice has posted with descriptions of the photos she is trying to reunite with families.

    If you want to see if Marge has posted a message about a photo that might belong to your family, enter “Marge Rice surname”, replacing the word “surname” with the surname for which you’re searching. For example, a search for “Marge Rice Johnson” brings up 29 messages, most of which are messages from Marge Rice trying to find homes for Johnson family photos.

    Good luck!

  3. Others can get into the spirit of reuniting orphan photos with family members. All that is needed is a little time, and a cooperative storekeeper. When I visit antique stores, I flip through their basket of photographs (every store seems to have one!) to locate ones with names on them. If they exist, I ask the storekeeper if they are willing to deal with mailing photographs to a stranger who might be able to claim the photo(s) and pay for them via check or over the phone by credit card. Most storekeepers say yes – they are usually intrigued with the concept of reuniting the photos with family members.

    I then write down each name, with any other identifying information like location of the photo studio, or description of the person. When I get home, I post the information on the Rootsweb Surname Message Board of the matching surname. But not only do I list just the ones with the Surname, I list all the named photos, in case there are relatives there with a non-matching Surname, which will further identify the persons in the photographs. With their permission, all the store particulars are also noted, including store name, address, and telephone number.

    With this method, I have successfully “reunited” family members with their orphan photos! It has not cost me anything other than some of my time. Try it sometime – the feeling is wonderful!

  4. I’m trying to be patient, but it’s hard to wait. I just want to know if you’re interested in helping me to find a good Edgerton or Selden home for the Edgerton sampler I have. I tried to find someone in the Edgerton or Selden family on the Internet, but obviously didn’t go about it the right way and would really appreciate your help or advice for a good procedure. I posted information on a message board, but had no luck.

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