The Power of Professional Photo Colorization to Make Your Relatives Real: The Rhoads Sisters

A talented photograph colorization artist has the power to make your ancestors stories come to life. We see our family more as they “really were”, and not just in the colorless limitations of photography at the time.

While black and white photos have their appeal and leave room for imagination, a skillfully colorized photograph can capture a spirit that would otherwise be lost.

Here is an example from my own family history. These are the Rhoads Sisters of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. The photograph was colorized by @okkama.colorizations (check out his profile on Instagram).

Here is the original photo that came from the cherished photo album of my great grandmother, Ida Rhoads Sears (1900-2002). My best guess is that it was taken around 1920.

The Rhoads Sisters

And here is the professionally colorized version.

The Rhoads Sisters

I had a little difficulty identifying everyone in the photograph at first, but I am fairly confident now. The woman on the far left is actually a “Rhoads” sister-in-law by marriage. The four women on the right are all biological Rhoads sisters including the youngest of them all, my great grandmother, Ida Rhoads Sears (2nd in from the right).

Ida was the youngest about about 13 children with years of birth spanning between 1879 and 1900. From left to right I believe the women in the photo are:

Margaret Campbell Rhoads (born abt. 1881)

Margaret married the oldest of the Rhoads siblings, James H. Rhoads (born about 1879), my 2nd great uncle.

Here is another photo of Margaret with her children:

Margaret with four of her children (left to right): Germain, Hyacinth on lap, Lucile (twin of Germain), and Ruth

Della Rhoads Stevenson (1880-1964)

Della, like the rest of the women to her left, is my 2nd great aunt. She married John H. Stevenson (1878-1957).

Here is a photograph of a younger Della:


Amanda Rhoads Campbell (1895-1988)

Amanda married the brother of Margaret (far left), John E. Campbell (1892-1959).

Ida Rhoads Sears (1900-2002)

My great grandmother and the central figure in much of the information and most of the family photographs I have about this branch of my tree. Though the younger in the family, you can see that she “towers” over her older sister standing far right.

Mary Rhoads (1893-1989)

Mary was affectionately referred to as “Little” Aunt Mary. What Mary lacked in height she more than made up for in energy and cheer. She never married and lived with her sister, Amanda, whose husband died in 1959. I remember visiting them when I was probably 10 and watching Mary scramble to reach the top shelf in the kitchen to get some snack bowls for my brothers and I to use.

With Mary never marrying, and both Amanda and Ida being widows, the three were quite close and had many adventures together. Here is a great photo of the three of them at Disneyland (Anaheim, California) in 1965. You can see a few other photos from that same trip at The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#29).

Left to right: Amanda Rhoads Campbell, Mary Rhoads, The White Rabbit, Ida Rhoads Sears. 1965

And here is another, maybe from the 1940s.

"The Three Musketeers. Mary, Amanda, and Ida" was written on the back of this photo, probably by my great grandmother, Ida (left). Mary is in the middle and Amanda the right.

Here is a photo of the three of them probably from 1988 not long before Mary and Amanda passed away. Ida would go on to live another 15 years or so without her beloved sisters.

Left to right: Ida, Amanda, Mary

Finally, here is Ida with me, probably in the summer of 1979, outside the first home that I ever knew.

It is weird to think that the woman 2nd in from the right in the first black and white photograph is the same woman holding my hand in the color home video above.

Our ancestors, of course, were not colorless and motionless. Sometimes, though, the only visual depictions we have of them are. If you have the opportunity, I would encourage you to pick a favorite family photograph and have it colorized. It can really stimulate your imagination and make long lost relatives “real”.

Are there family stories you would like to find, tell, or share? Maybe we can help!

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