Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Overson Negative Project

 My Great-grandmother Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson was one of the earliest female photographers in Arizona. Following in the footsteps of her father Charles Jarvis, who was also a photographer, she took thousands of photographs from the early 1900s until around 1950. Many of those photos were published in her genealogy book:

Overson, Margaret Godfrey Jarvis. George Jarvis and Joseph George De Friez Genealogy. Mesa?, Ariz: M.G. Jarvis Overson, 1957.

She is in the center of both these photos seated by her husband, my Great-grandfather Henry Overson.  The first photo was taken about 1929. The second photo was likely taken about 1945.

I knew that she had likely taken hundreds, if not thousands of photos, but had no idea where the originals might be. My daughter, Amy, put a request for information in her blog, and after three years we were contacted by a cousin who had the original negatives. I originally under-estimated the number of negatives. I have been processing the negatives for about 10 months now and have processed over 2,300 images so far. The entire collection will end up in a major university collection.


  1. Wow, that's awesome that you are preserving these! Are they available to look at anywhere online? I'm sure some of my ancestors and relatives are represented in her photos.

    1. They are being put onto the Memories. Search for "St. Johns" or go to Margaret Godfrey Jarvis in the Family Tree.

    2. Thanks James! I'll check it out. Can they be downloaded from there and are they a high enough resolution to print?


    3. They can be downloaded and printed. They are JPEG files. I have high resolution originals so if you wanted one with higher resolution you could write to me and see if I could find the same photo. Some of the originals are very small positive photos. Some of the original negatives are also very physically small.