SATURDAY

Of the many odd items to be found on eBay, family photos must certainly rank among the oddest. What kind of person sells his most cherished and private mementos to complete strangers? How does that decision come about? Aren’t there any relatives left? Surely there’s some third cousin twice removed who might have an interest in a picture of Great-Uncle Jed down on the farm in Tennessee during the Depression. I know I’m interested. Which is why I recently purchased a collection of other people’s most precious possessions—and at a fairly reasonable price. So what kind of person am I, buying photographs of strangers from strangers over the Internet? Perhaps the type who enjoys making ironic party invitations featuring wacky photos of old people. But Michelle Delaney has a more urgent need. The curator will give a gallery talk on the National Museum of American History’s continuing quest to find snapshots and family albums from the World War II era. (Lt. and Mrs. U.S. Ricks are pictured.) Because what once seemed merely a simple snap capturing a random moment in time becomes a valuable window into a lost world. And amateur candids fill in crucial blanks not covered by the work of professionals such as Robert Capa and Margaret Bourke-White, also part of the museum’s collection. Delaney leads a tour of the museum’s “World War II: Photographic Perspectives” exhibition (on view through Jan. 2, 2005) and discusses the various Kodak moments at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Dave Nuttycombe)

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