Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Manifesto For Sepia Saturday

Having just visited all the participating blogs in this week's Sepia Saturday, I am delighted by both the wonderful pictures and fascinating stories that the meme has given rise to. I am also gladdened to note how well received the idea has been and how the number of participants is growing each week. When Kat and I came up with the idea we avoided both rules and organisational structures in the firm belief that the former was unnecessary and the latter would emerge as a matter of course. I remain convinced that restrictive rules should be avoided, but I am aware that, as the number of participants increases, we may need to introduce a better organisational structure for the weekly links. As people know, I will be away for the next three Sepia Saturdays (Kat has kindly agreed to host the link lists), but if anyone has any suggestions as to the kind of organisational structure they would prefer (a separate Blog with a MrLinky a la Theme Thursday or whatever) I would be most grateful if they could post them in. I would like to finish with my own thoughts on what, to me, Sepia Saturday is all about. It is my own Manifesto For Sepia Saturday which anyone should feel free to add to or amend.

1. We belong to a favoured generation: the first generation of the digital age. Whilst our ancestors have valiantly attempted to preserve their own unique history in scraps of written narrative and faded and creased photographs, we have the unique ability to fix these memories for ever as our legacy to future generations.
2.  Scanning, blogging and digital storage provide us with the means of preserving the past, but we also have a duty to preserve the stories and images of those that contributed to our society as we know it. Whilst we can leave to academic historians the task of documenting the lives of the rich and famous, we believe that the most remote second-cousin and the most distant of maiden aunts has made a unique contribution to the lives that we lead. Each one of us has a duty to help preserve the stories of these builders of the modern world.
3. Whilst images alone are fascinating documents, images with words - be they simple half-remembered names and dates or gripping narrative histories - are even better. The synthesis of image and words provides the most effective insight into the past.
4. "Sepia" is an alliterative convenience rather than a descriptive criterion. Let our images be in sepia, in black and white or in full colour : what matters is the message and not the medium.
5.  We recognise that we have not only a duty to share our past but also to ensure that it is effectively preserved. Whilst images printed on photographic paper and words written in old notebooks fade with time, they have proved, in most cases, remarkably resilient over time. Perhaps one of the greatest dangers facing the millions of digital images and the endless pages of computerised words we produce today is that they can so easily be lost by the pressing of a wrong button or by the hacking of a troubled soul. We recognise and we accept our responsibility to back-up and securely save.


  1. What a good manifesto! I like it all, but I especially like item #2.

  2. The group has really grown. I was going to visit all of the sepia sites and wow, it will take awhile plus keep up with my regulars. Enjoy your vacation. Rest and relax and enjoy!!!!!

  3. This is a well timed manifesto Alan, given the rate at which interest has increased over the past weeks. I heartily endorse all that this post contains.

    With my professional hat on, I would urge everyone to back up their treasured photographs and to export their blog regularly as an xml file.

  4. Your manifesto is absolutely perfect. And I echo your thoughts.

    Perhaps a separate blog with Mr. Linky would be a good thing, as is done for Theme Thursday.

  5. We certainly do have a "duty to share our past but also to ensure that it is effectively preserved".


  6. Alan, I share your sentiments exactly about this little phenomenon we have birthed. I am delighted to see that others are inclined to join it for it is a testament to the innate connection we feel with our ancestors and the resultant impulse to share and pay tribute to those who came before us.

    I am so glad to see that #4 is flexible enough to accommodate all photographic memoirs—I myself will need to venture into the colour world in the not too distant future.

    I think we will have to go the "Mr. Linky" (that really is an appalling name) route.


  7. I agree with and support your manifesto despite an appalling lack of my own sepia-toned photos.

    Your remarks brought to mind the issue of preservation and the problems inherent in digital, audio and other formats, all of which can basically rot over time. I'll look and see what I've got related to the digital realm. Meantime, don't throw papers and photos out. I read this stuff for the archiving class offered by my MLS programme. You or Kat might want to take a peek if I can find what I'm thinking of.

    Enjoy your time away!

  8. Not Only Mr Linky But Great-Grandma Linky Too!

  9. Organization
    Regardless of the details, it would be great to have one pillar post (like this one) that includes your statement plus an updated footer with links to the whole series.
    In my opinion, it would be better to stick to a narrower theme of sepia (or sepia & b/w) because it would be more pleasurable to visit a series organizd around a tighter theme.
    On my own site, some of my most visited and re-visited posts are those that are part of something like the "Montreal in the Time of Tramways" series.This is especially if one of your posts has a list of the links.
    I share the frustration of people who have no sepia images (I'm one of those) but this might also be a spur to people to be on the lookout for those images.
    Evelyn in Montreal

  10. All wonderful thoughts, Alan and I wholeheartedly agree!

    And thank you, too, Kat for your part in this.

    I, too, vote for a seperate blog and Mr. Linky like we do with Theme Thursday. It would be great to be able to sign up all week and anticipate the posts on Saturday.

    I am certain that our little group will keep growing! How fun!

  11. I like your manifesto. Bravo, Alan and Kat!

  12. i'm chuffed that i interpreted sepia saturday the right way long before you wrote the manifesto!
    and i like visiting here for the links

    have a great trip alan

  13. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Very well stated and I agree with Willow: hear, hear! :) The Bach

  14. excellent manifesto!

    and I am relieved that it's the message not the medium which counts!

    bravo to alan and kat for organizing this community of time travelers!

  15. Hello Alan,

    It's been a while since I've been able to visit. I've come across several Sepia Saturday posts and have wondered, Hmmm, what is this?
    I love the idea of it, the manifesto. I think it's a wonderful to preserve our past.

    Happy Monday,


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...