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Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Found Photos of Sgt. Joseph Papini (WWII)

A popular and often high-priced item I see at estate sales and flea markets are scrapbooks. They are exactly that, a collection of scraps meant to note important life events such as a birth or death or journey somewhere. They can also be collections of newspaper clippings and photos dedicated to a celebrity or monarch, songs, or recipes.

I was permitted to rummage around the basement of an antique shop in Oakville, Connecticut that was going out of business. I came up with this large scrapbook. At first, I thought I would pass it up, there were so many personal items it is sad to think there was no one to take this when the estate came up for sale. When I saw it had belonged to a Connecticut couple, I decided to take care of it.
WWII Draft Notice

At home, I began to read it like a book. I noticed a few pages dedicated to a husband's time away from home while he served in war.

This was a well organized scrapbook. Julia Santa Barbara Papini came from a large family. She had five sisters and five brothers. I can only imagine that some if not most of the wedding invitations and announcements are family as well as friends. Her husband, the subject of the items pictured here, came from a smaller family with only a single brother and sister.

Why all the background? In order to pick through the scrapbook of someone's life, I need to pay respect. If this were a collection of celebrity memorabilia I might pick it to pieces, being a family heirloom I wanted to do something else.

That became easier when I found, tucked in the center of the book, a packet of photo negatives. One look at the writing on the envelope...
   Joseph Papini had brought with him during his service, a small camera. Soldiers were permitted cameras but, like all their written correspondence, needed to be reviewed by an Army censor. Maybe these images will help promote this story and my hope to give it a better home.

By producing a brief documentary featuring the images, I hope a distant relative will come forward. Take a look. 

 This is a Connecticut story, but can happen anywhere. I know there will be others and hopefully this one will end like the last one - with a visit to a relative and a return of what is rightfully theirs. If you know a Papini or a Santa Barbara, drop me a line and I'll check it out. 

ADDENDUM - I have written about this kind of discovery before - A piece of WWII history, a family connected to it, and no way to tell the full story without help - Click here to read.

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