How “Return the Photos” got started

My name is Renee Rushing Carr and I live in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas.  On a fall day I was perusing through a flea market in Clinton, Arkansas when I saw what looked like an old wedding photo of a couple.  Puzzled at why it would be there, I took it off the shelf and looked at the handsome young couple pictured in 1920’s era dress and hairstyles.  I glanced at the back of the paper frame and saw their names written in faded pencil.  My passion for genealogy kicked in and I wondered if I could research the couple and locate a descendant to whom I could return the photo. After all, old photos should be treasured and found on the mantle in a home or hanging on the wall, not on a flea market shelf!  I returned home and eagerly began the search. Using I entered the couple’s name and within seconds had several census records which gave me their place of residence in 1930 and 1940. Using the place and names, a Google search landed the 1990 obituary of the groom. The obituary listed the names and cities of residence of their children.  Another online search for a phone number, and I was able to talk to a daughter of the couple.  She was flabbergasted to know I had purchased the photo at a flea market and was very eager to have it returned to the family.  I returned the photo as a gift to a happy recipient in Kansas, and a new hobby was launched.

I volunteer as the Director of the Family History Center in Mountain View, Arkansas.  Our Center is one of 3,600 centers sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the world. The purpose of these Centers is to provide personal assistance and training to those who want to research their family trees.  My new-found hobby is an extension of my love for genealogy, shared by my parents, and my knowledge of the importance of families. Knowing something about one’s ancestors is important.  Having a photo of an ancestor is priceless.  Many people have been very helpful in this quest to return old photos….from newspaper journalists who publish stories about the photos; to flea market vendors who relate how they acquired the photos; to strangers I “cold call” to help me locate descendants; to my son, Derek, who setup this website to help me reach a wider audience; to my husband, Philip, who goes with me on adventures of picking up pictures and even knocking on strangers’ doors.  I appreciate each and every one of them.

Renee & Philip


    • Thanks, Lori. Appreciate the good story in the Leader. As a result, I’ve already had a few contacts from people needing genealogy help and one with photos to return if we can solve the mystery.

  • I got so excited when I read the news article in the Stone County Leader. A number of years ago I was contacted by someone just like you who had found a photo of my grandmother as a baby. I had been doing genealogy for a few years so to have a gift like that is a treasure. What you are doing is a wonderful thing.

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