About Frank's Files and Frank's Photos

Summary

This website is being used to preserve the documents that were found among my father's (Frank Shields) possessions when he died in 2014. They have been divided into two main sections: one for paper documents (letters, brochures, ticket stubs, certificates, legal documents, etc.); the second section is for visual material such as slides, negatives, photos, video, etc. There is also a small section for audio recordings.

The two main sections are:

Frank's Files - The paper documents are mostly letters received and saved by Frank, his mother Gen, and his sister Dot during WW IIAlthough he didn't collect letters he received, the letters sent by Frank's brother Joe also form an important part of the collection. After WWII, Frank continued to collect mail to him from his siblings, co-workers, children - everyone, really. In addition to letters, Frank also kept such ephemera as baseball tickets, train schedules, grade school report cards, work papers, etc.; these are included in the collection. There are also a small number of documents that predate WWII; these are mostly documents related to Frank's parents or other ancestors.

Frank's Photos is the collection of photographs, negatives, slides and even some 8mm film found among his possessions. Most are photographs that Frank took, although some (particularly the earliest images) were taken by other relatives.

There are a number of reasons why I scanned the documents and am making them available on this website.  The primary reason is to enable other family members, particularly my siblings and cousins, to have greater access to their parent's generation. The WWII letters are from a time that none of us lived through, and the discussions that occur in the letters show our parents at a pivotal time in both history and in their formation. I believe they provide significant insight into how they changed and matured over time. Particularly since children tend to see their parents in a much different light than other adults, these letters afford a view of them as "regular" (i.e. non-parental) people.

It is also my hope that generations beyond mine will also find this material of interest. For direct descendants of the principals involved, it will give a much better idea of who their ancestors were than can be obtained from looking at a family tree. Others beyond my family may find this collection to be of interest in that it covers a single family with multiple members over a significant portion of their lives: from before WWII to the 21st Century. While there may be other such collections available on the web, to date I have not found them; most such collections of letters tend to be from or to a single person, and consisting of letters ONLY. If this collection is as unique as that seems to indicate, then it may be of value to researchers in the future.

Both projects are on-going: new pages of documents and photographs are being added on a regular basis. To receive announcements concerning changes and additions to the Files or Photos pages, just send an email to fjaymail-ffiles@yahoo.com and you'll start receiving the announcement emails. Such announcements generally occur every couple of months at present. 

What's in the collection

Shortly after Frank (Francis J. Shields IV) passed away on 2/15/2014, we (his children) started going through his belongings; we always considered my father to be something of a pack rat, but were surprised to run across boxes of old letters (bundled with rubber bands) and other old documents in various boxes and containers. None of his children even knew these documents existed, but as we went through them, it became clear that he had started to collect letters sent to him near the beginning of the war, and had later enlisted his older sister (Dot, a WAC stationed initially in GA) to do the same.  Both would send those letters to their mother Gen from time to time and she saved them for Frank.

Since Frank, Gen and Dot were writing to each other fairly regularly, the collection contains quite a few of those letters. While not every letter was saved, I believe the majority were. In addition to  letters from those three, mail received by them from friends and other relatives has been preserved. Primary among these are letters to Gen, Dot & Frank from Joe (Dot & Frank's brother) who joined the Army Air Corps in 1942.  Other letters are from High School friends of Joe & Frank, people Dot or Frank befriended while in the service, and even some from relatives of friends who were killed in the war.

In addition to the documents, there were also thousands of pictures and negatives. While many of these are from more recent times (70's and later), there are also quite a few (especially negatives) that date back to WWII or earlier; there are even a couple of tintypes from the 1800's. Since I'm sure many of these have never been seen except by Frank and his siblings, it quickly became apparent that these photos and negatives represent some significant history of our parents and grandparents.

Also among Frank's possessions were several audio cassette tapes and even one 78 RPM vinyl record. The cassette tapes are all from 1969 or later, while the record was recorded in January of 1948.  These recordings have been digitized and are available from the website; their main contributions are the voices of Frank, his parents and siblings.

Who's Who

Since the letters and pictures reference a LOT of different people, it can be difficult to identify who's who. So a "Rogue's Gallery" of information has been set up to help identify the people who most commonly are seen or referenced. Given the large number of people involved, the Gallery will also be an on-going effort: new records for relatives and friends will be added as time allows. Check back regularly to see if new people have been added.

Layout of Frank's Files web page

Frank's Files was the first project started, and the layout of the page has evolved a bit over time, and may continue to do so. The basic layout is a table of documents, starting with the first paper scanned. As new documents are scanned, they are added at the bottom of the list. Information about each document is kept in the table; the following fields are used.

Since the vast majority of documents are correspondence (letters, vmail, telegrams, etc.), the layout is biased towards that type of document. For other documents, the From field indicates who the document relates to, if anyone; it may be blank if the document isn't specific to a person (such as a train schedule). For the Summary, particular attention is paid to Gen, Chief, Dot, Joe, Frank, Ronnie, Vee and Betty if they are mentioned in a letter. Click on this link if you need a guide to which Francis Shields is which.

Navigating the page

Since there are more than 1,000 documents, navigating a table with that many entries can be a problem. So the table has been set up with Sorting and Filtering capabilities. The table can be sorted by the Num, Date, From, To, Type and Location/Keywords fields: simply click once on the column heading to sort the table in ascending order, click on it again to sort in descending order. For example, to see the letters in chronological sequence, click on the Date heading. Or to see the most recently added files at the top rather than the bottom, click on the Num heading twice: the first time will sort it low to high - the order in which they were scanned - while the second click will sort it high to low, thus showing the most recent additions.

Given the large number of documents, it's likely that you may want to restrict the set of documents displayed in the table. Thus, the filtering capability can be used to accomplish that; it is the first row in the table under the Column headings, and the capability of the filter depends on the type of data in that column. For the From, To and Type fields, the filter is a drop-down menu that will let you select one of the values for that field. For other fields such as the Summary, the filter is a text box that allows you to enter a keyword; hitting the enter key after typing in the keyword will result in showing only those rows whose Summary contains that keyword.  For the Date field, you can type in a specific date (MM/DD/YYYY format) and that will show documents that match that specific date.  But you can also specify a range of dates and see only those documents that have a date within the range.  To do that, you must enter a more complex search command in the text field. As an example, to find all documents whose dates are between 3/1/1943 and 6/1/1943, you should enter '>=03/01/1943 && <06/01/1943' (without the quotes) in the date text box.

For more information about using complex filters, click on the ? icon on the top-right of the table.

When you filter the table based on a field, the column header will change color to indicate that field is being filtered. You can filter by more than one field, and each column header will change color. To stop filtering on a particular field, either select "Show all" or clear the text box and hit "Enter". To clear all filters at once, click on the "clear filter" icon (a crossed-out funnel) at the top-right corner of the table header.

It is allowed to both filter the table AND to sort the resulting entries. First apply any filters you wish, then click on the column heading to sort by that field. For example, you can filter for documents in a specific date range (see the example above), then sort the data into chronological order by clicking on the Date column heading.

Frank's Photos web page

While there are many documents in the collection, there are even more photographs and negatives. Many of the photos, negatives or (later) slides were bundled together in envelopes or other containers, so I've taken the approach of scanning the images into sets that [usually] represent some such "bundle". While some of the sets contain images that are clearly related, in others the association between the images is at best murky or non-existent. Where possible, I've created links from one set to another for images that I believe are related.  Some sets are formed from loose collections of negatives or photographs. Ex: Set-026.

In order to avoid too many duplicate images, I have tried to scan negatives first, and photographic prints later. This has allowed me to occasionally skip creating a duplicate when I have both the negative and a print for the same image. And since negatives will generally produce a better scan result, this allows for an improved image as well. But some duplicates still made it through; when I know that a duplicate exists, I try to create links between them since other images in the two sets may be related.

Layout of Frank's Photos page

The main web page for Frank's Photos is again a table; the Columns are:
As with the Frank's Files page, the table has some sorting and filtering capabilities. The Description field can be filtered for keywords using the first row under the column headings. A good use of that capability would be to enter the name of a particular person in the Description text box.  The Set Name field can be filtered by clicking on an entry in the list of sets that can be found under the column heading. To select more than one set, use Shift-Click to select additional individual sets or Control-Click (Command-Click for Mac users) to select a range of sets. You may scroll the list to find the sets you're interested in.

Any of the fields can be sorted by clicking on the appropriate column heading.

Photo Set pages

After clicking on the thumbnail or the set name on the Frank's Photos page, you'll see the Photo Set page for that set. The top of the page shows you the name of the set. There are icons on either side of the name that will let you navigate sequentially through the photo sets. There are also some other icons near the name; click here to find out what they do. The main portion of the page is a table, with one row for each image in the set. The columns in the table are:

At the top of each photo set page is a box containing some picture numbers. By clicking on a number, a slideshow will start using the selected picture. The slideshow images will be 3/4 the size of your browser page; this makes them bigger than the thumbnails but smaller than the full-sized image. Clicking on the image itself will go forward though the images. There are links at the bottom left to navigate both forward and backwards from the current image, along with information about which image you're viewing. At the bottom right is an "X" that will close the slideshow. This option is offered as an alternative to clicking on each thumbnail and then having to go back to the photo set page to see the next photo.  

After some experimentation, I've found that having the image change every few seconds was annoying, so the slideshow won't actually switch from one image to another: you have to either click in the image (to go forward) or use the navigation icons.

Quality of scans

A word about quality: I purchased a scanner designed for scanning negatives and photographs. Negatives are scanned at 800 DPI or greater, with smaller negatives being scanned at higher densities. So a large-format negative would be scanned at 800 DPI, while a 35mm negative is generally scanned at either 1200 or 2400 DPI. While I do use the scanner software to reduce the effects of dust and scratches, I generally do not do any post-scan image processing for the simple reason that it would take years to complete this project if I were to do so. Also, a lot of the photos will never be of interest to anyone ... like everyone else, Frank & Family often took pictures that were out of focus, or used the wrong light settings or were simply an accident of clicking the shutter. But if someone wants to have a cleaned up version of an image, or wants one scanned at a higher resolution (to allow larger reprints for example), then  I am willing to rescan or touch up the images. See the What's Next section.

All documents are scanned at 300 DPI. That should make them readable at full size without the need to go above 100%. If there's a reason you think something should be scanned at a higher resolution, let me know (and provide the document number!). Documents that are typed are generally scanned using OCR software: a few days after being uploaded, their contents can be searched for via the web (such as Google).

Navigation Icons

Several Icons will be found throughout the web pages. You can generally tell their meaning by allowing your mouse cursor to hover over the icon: an explanation of the icon's function will appear. Of course, that doesn't work for mobile devices, so here's what the icons mean:

or
Go to Previous or Next photo set. These icons let you traverse from one photo set to another without having to go back to the main Photo Set page.
or Access this page.
Go to the main Frank's Photos page. You can navigate to any of the photo sets from that page.
Jump to the Frank's Files page.
Jump to the Shields Audio Recording page.

Go to the Rogue's Gallery, which will show images of the major "players" in Frank's Files or Frank's Photos.
Send an email to the mailing list. Do this if you have any corrections or questions about the information you're seeing. Hopefully, someone on the list will know the answer if you have a question.
Link to the mailing list archive. Whenever a mail is sent to the mailing list, a copy of the mail is kept in the archive. That way, discussions concerning interesting pictures or contents of the letters can be viewed by others at a later date.

Help improve the pages!

As you look through the documents or photographs, if you have any information that might be relevant to the item but it is not shown, please send an email with the information along with the name of the document (FFDoc-XXXX), photo set (Set-XXX) or image (IMG-XXX-YYY) to the Ffiles@woodandcraft mailing list. Unless I have conflicting information to the contrary, I will attempt to add that information to the appropriate web page(s) as soon as I can. Especially with the photographs, there is a LOT of information that is unknown; often locations, dates and people in the photos are completely unknown. If you know any of that information, please send it to me!

If you have any questions about the documents or photographs, you can also send that to the Ffiles mailing list; that way, if I don't know the answer, someone else on the mailing list might. But if you want to send me a private note, then use my email address: fjaymail-ffiles@yahoo.com.

If you're reading this, you probably are related to Gen & Chief in some way. Please, please help add to our information about these documents and photographs. To join the mailing list so that you can see all email sent to it, send an email either to Ffiles@woodandcraft or to fjaymail-ffiles@yahoo.com and you'll start receiving announcement whenever something new is added to either of the main pages.

As I mentioned earlier, if there is a photograph (or even a document) that you are particularly interested in, then I'd be willing to re-scan the photo/negative at a higher resolution and use some post-process image tools to improve the look of the image. If you want that, please send an email to me at fjaymail-ffiles@yahoo.com.

Finally, if you just want to browse through the correspondence and photos, then enjoy!

Jay Shields
fjaymail-ffiles@yahoo.com

Write to me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions!


copyright 2014-2018 Francis J. Shields