Jack brought in a deep shadowbox frame; about 18"x 18" and 4 inches deep. Contained in it was a round ornate circular silver frame. At the center of which was a 3 inch circular photo of a couple in their mid to late 50s, maybe very early 60s. Curved around the top of the photo it said 1878-1903; beneath it said 2 May. Around the couple's photo were 1 inch round photos of 5 younger people; presumably their children. This was a silver wedding anniversary frame; silver in color and material, as well as in the fact that it is a 25th anniversary commemorative frame.
Jack proceeded to tell me how this was in the home his parents bought in 1969 in Flushing, Queens, NY. Jack surprisingly knew the name of the previous homeowner. Do you know the name of the person who owned the house you grew up in? I sure as heck don't.
Even though their was no indication on the object as to who was in the photos, Jack believed it belonged to the former homeowner and wanted to get it back to the family. The former homeowner's name was George Washington Anger. I guess that is a pretty hard name to forget.
A search for George quickly resulted in finding his WWI draft registration card. The card confirmed that George lived in Flushing and it provided his date of birth which made subsequent searches much easier.
From there we back up through the U.S. Federal Census records, 1940 to 1930 to 1920 etc, to find George living with his parents at the address Jack had grown up at. Sure enough, George was 1 of 5 children of August and Caroline Anger.
Turning our interest to the parents, we found their marriage record in the New York, New York Marriage Index as, wouldn't you have it, 2 May 1878. This frame was theirs and those photos were these people we had seen in all these records.
Jack then asked if we could find any living family members. I always tell my patrons that it is easier to find the dead than it is to find the living. We took a shot though and searched the public family trees on Ancestry.com. We found someone who appeared to be the great-great grandson of August and Caroline. Using my personal Ancestry.com account I was able to email the tree owner through Ancestry. I could see this Ancestry user was an active researcher because he had had an account since 2012 and had last logged in 2 days before.
We simply sent a note saying I was a genealogy librarian working with a patron who had an object that might be of interest to him if he was indeed related to this couple.
Today Jack and I received a reply to that email saying that yes, those are his great-great grandparents and that he would be delighted to know what we have in store for him.
I know that it is Jack's wish to see this object back in the hands of a family member who will love and cherish it as much as he has all these years - these strangers whose house he once lived in.