Circumnavigating the Globe via Family Photographs
Eighty years, fifty plus countries, more than six hundred rolls of film, and fifteen thousand slides account for one family’s passion for travel. This is a story about global travel and its recordation by several members of one Baltimore family and the extensive job of digitizing fifteen thousand slides. Full Circle is honored to help the Blum family unlock not only its history but also myriad stories that cross many years and many more miles traveled.
How many families have boxes containing carousels in which are hundreds and hundreds of slides documenting family trips and events? Likely more than a few. Marc and Leonor Blum estimate they have some fifteen thousand slides. Most of them are from his and Leonor’s long marriage and detail their travels as well as their life with family (they have two children and four grandchildren). The remainder, Marc estimates a full third, were taken by his mother and father-in-law, whose honey export business took them all over the world in search of sources and suppliers.
Fritz and Hilde Tannhauser both left Germany with little, prior to the World War, and met each other while living in Argentina. Fritz Tannhauser started a company that exported lentils and sunflower seeds to Brazil and European countries. It was the sourcing of quality honey that took the Tannhausers on frequent trips. Thrilled by the opportunity to see the world, they recorded the sights in between business engagements. They were not explorers summiting the world’s highest mountains, rather they embraced leisure travel, which was a fairly new concept (see sidebar). They were seldom without a Leica or Voigtlander camera in hand on these trips, assiduously taking wonderful photos. In addition to their own slides, they collected commercial slides of famous monuments and buildings. These slide packets were sold alongside picture postcards in tourist shops offering professional photographs of the sights.
The Tannhauser’s daughter, Leonor, grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but went to college at Wellesley, got her master’s degree at Columbia University School of Journalism, and then a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She later worked as a freelance journalist, reporting on Latin American stories for various newspapers including the Baltimore News American. Marc attended graduate school at Columbia University while in the army, earning a law degree as well as a PhD in business. He served on the Army General Staff under General Herbert J. McChrystal (General Stanley McChrystal’s father). After completing his service, in 1971–1972 Marc and Leonor took their savings and set off on a fourteen-month camping trip to South America and Western Europe, taking photographs all the while. Marc estimates that a quarter of the treasure trove of slides is from this period.
Returning to Marc’s native Baltimore following the epic camping trip, the couple had two boys and settled down. Well, except that their love of traveling only grew and they continued to take trips whenever possible, including to all mainland Latin American countries, plus Cuba. In fact, a list of where they have not traveled would be much more manageable than the lengthy list of where they have gone. As Marc settled in 1972 into his long and continuing career as a tax attorney with Baltimore’s storied law firm Gordon, Feinblatt and Rothman (established 1953), Leonor began a second career teaching political science and history at Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU). She pioneered NDMU’s service-learning-abroad program and led school trips for thirty years. No surprise, Leonor was seldom without a camera on these trips. Marc estimates another third of the slides come from a combination of the couple’s travels and Leonor’s leading Notre Dame study abroad program trips.
While Marc continues his work as an attorney, Leonor is retired from teaching and has shifted her focus to another project. She is the founder and CEO of ¡Adelante Latina!, a free, after-school academic enrichment and college preparatory program for promising Latina girls attending Baltimore City high schools. This three-year program focuses on bright, academically driven Baltimore City 10th-12th grade Latinas. Now in its eighth year, the program serves thirty-five students each year and has graduated five cohorts. Most have gone on to college on full scholarships and currently, forty-two alumnae receive support. The Blums have affected the lives of many and continue to do what they can.
Reaching into the family’s history through the treasure trove of slides that represents decades of family adventures is unlocking that history for the next generations of Blums. Grandchildren Amelie, Asa, Axel, and Aviva will be able to add visuals to all the family stories they have heard about their grandparents and their great-grandparents. And the Blums will be able to sort and organize the images by trips and create a visual timeline of their fifty-one-year marriage. For them, going down memory lane will be a superhighway that runs all the way around the globe in full technicolor. By having Full Circle Archive Digitization digitize all fifteen thousand slides, decades of living life to the fullest can be experienced by everyone.
How many slides are hiding in your closet? How many wonderful memories are stacked up in a bazillion carousels? Give Full Circle a call to talk about bringing your memories out of the attic and into the light.