Lost Memories, Found

Treasured scrapbook preserved in Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room

On a sunny fall day, a chance encounter on social media led to the rediscovery of a missing chapter of family history in the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, the Library’s archive for materials related to regional history and national geneology.

As a child, Ross Bradford recalls visiting his grandmother’s house in Huntersville, where he explored closets full of old clothes, letters and mementos. He clearly remembers a scrapbook of photos.

Today Ross lives in Washington, DC, and he’s long wondered what happened to that scrapbook. His grandmother passed away in the 1990s, and the book was lost – until it appeared on Facebook.

A distant relative happened to notice a post from a Charlotte collector transferring some old photo albums to the Carolina Room, and his picture included an image of Ross’ grandmother. She forwarded the post to Ross’ aunt, who contacted Ross. In a stroke of perfect timing, Ross found himself travelling to Charlotte a few weeks later, and he visited the Carolina Room to see for himself.

Ross discovered his grandmother’s scrapbook completely intact and filled with photos, notes and news clippings documenting her life from elementary school through college. He spent hours at Main Library photographing almost every page, and has since shared the photos with his father who he describes as “overcome with emotion.” This carefully assembled time capsule captures his grandmother in personal moments, before her marriage and her children. Ross found candid shots of his grandparents, young and in love, beaming with the distinctive smiles he immediately recognized.

Ross never would have looked for the scrapbook at the Library, but he’s grateful it’s in the Carolina Room now. As an attorney who works in historic preservation of buildings, he knows the value of proper preservation. “Of all the things my grandmother collected, this album is the one I remember. It’s a treasure chest, and I’m so glad it will be properly cared for in the Library’s collection. This is so much better than having it on a shelf in someone’s house.”

Going forward, Ross hopes to assist the Carolina Room with documentation of details in the photos, so future researchers can learn from the scrapbook. Jane Johnson, Manager of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, sums it up. “Many of the resources in the Carolina Room rely on memories and ongoing relationships with people who can provide context. Making this connection with Ross is a priceless opportunity to enrich our collection and our understanding of one family’s experience in a distinct period of Charlotte’s history.”

The Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room is always looking for items of historical interest. For more information about donations to the collection, contact the Carolina Room.

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