Dear PoP – Help To Track Down Family in Photo

“Dear PoP,

A couple years ago my sister and I acquired several hundred slides of a Virginia family’s cross country and European travels from the late 50’s & early 60’s (Mexico, France, Italy, Holland, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and so on) from Ruff & Ready. Some real Time Life meets National Geographic shit. One of the slides at the beginning of the cross country trip (Virginia to San Francisco via New Orleans and Mexico) shows the family car (with obligatory bug screen) and its license plate: Arlington, 1960 and the number. [License plate: Virginia 1960, A127-199; 44973, Arlington 8]

Does anyone out there know how I would go about trying to track down the family through public records or DMV? I’ve enjoyed them and thought their kids might want a family keepsake.”

Any suggestions? Seems like a long shot but it would be fantastic if they could be tracked down.

18 Comment

  • Cool idea – I have twice tracked down people from old postcards. Though failed to find the sender of a message in a bottle from New Zealand.

    If DMV doesn’t work out, I wonder if car dealerships for that type car might. (I don’t know what it is but someone will.) Many dealerships have been owned by families for generations, and a family with wealth enough to travel this much may have bought new cars regularly, as was common back then. Perhaps also look for message boards for State department, World Bank.

    There may be lots of clues in other photos. Good luck

  • There are several license plate search engines online for a fee of about $30 if you care to spend that.

    Please provide an update with your search if you are successful.

    Cool Post! Good Luck.

  • I’m pretty sure that’s Helen Thomas second from the right.

  • Rather than the DMV, which probably systematically destroys old records on a rolling basis like most other government agencies, I’d try talking to an expert in old license plates to see if there’s any way to gleen data therefrom. Maybe someone at ALPCA:

    Good luck.

  • This wasn’t their car anyway! They were getting ready to steal it. It’s pretty obvious they were moving quickly to hot wire the thing and skedaddle.

  • I’d recommend reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

  • There’s a great film called “Lost Holiday” that you might enjoy. I saw it at Silverdocs last year. It’s about a group of Czech tourists that find a bag of undeveloped film in the trash in Sweden, if I remember correctly. They spent the next couple of years (!) trying to track down the random Asian strangers in the photos. Worth a watch.

  • I would certainly suggest tapping the Arlington Library Archives. This is an unusual search, but that’s what makes it fun and that just might get you someone who’s interested enough to go out of their way to help.

    You can reach them at:
    1015 N. Quincy St
    Arlington, VA 22201
    (703) 228-7724

    Do keep us posted.

  • I would certainly suggest tapping the Arlington Library Archives. You can reach them at:

    1015 N. Quincy St
    Arlington, VA 22201
    (703) 228-7724

  • “I’ve enjoyed them and thought their kids might want a family keepsake.”

    Sometimes family treasures are thrown out by accident. And sometimes they are thrown out for a reason.

    Maybe the kids just don’t think their ancestor’s road trips are interesting or valuable. Or maybe there are bad memories lurking in between those slides that the kids and family have tried very hard to put behind them.

    Tread carefully when deciding to track down strangers for things like this. Be prepared that they may not want anything to do with you or the items you’ve found.

    • debbie downer!

      • Its nice that you have nothing but pleasant memories and wouldn’t mind a stranger knocking on your door and offering you a trip down memory lane. Not everyone is so fortunate.

    • I once bought a lot of old photos from the children of the owners of this house, all kinds of old photos of DC life and I asked them, “Are you really selling these?” and they told me “Why would you want a bunch of old pictures?” I told them about the history and life in the 1950s and the woman just responded, “I lived here, it wasn’t that great.”

      Not everyone is like us.

    • If that were the case, the owners would have burned the photos.

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