Public Archive Spotlight: The Chas. E Martin Archive 

Emily Sienkiewicz

December 13, 2023
Archive Spotlight: The Chas. E Martin Archive.

In a world that moves at breakneck speed, it’s easy to lose touch with our roots, the stories that bind us, and the people who shaped our lineage. The holiday season is the perfect time to gather your friends and family together to celebrate the traditions from the past that you’ve carried into the future. Public archives on Permanent make it easy to stay tethered to your family’s rich history, both past and present. This season, we’d like to shine a spotlight on the Chas. E. Martin Archive which acts as a hub for Chas.’s family to access photos of cherished faces and moments from the past.

An Enduring Family Story

“Family is everything. People can be gone but not forgotten,” said Chas. Martin. These words resonate deeply with many of us. It was this sentiment that sparked the idea to create the Chas E. Martin Archive as a central repository for his family’s cherished memories. With a goal of creating an archive “so that all the cousins could access them,” he embarked on a mission—to digitize the old photos, clean them of wear and tear, and upload them to Permanent with identifying information to help the stories behind them live on. Thanks to the ease of uploading on Permanent, preserving these moments became an effortless task, ensuring accessibility for all.

Black and white image of two men and two women in what appears to be bathing costumes.
Charles Martin Sr. and Dena Bluemlein

Unraveling Generational Tales

When it comes to old photos, the faces and memories captured therein can easily be forgotten over time. All it takes is one generation to forget before people start referring to Great Aunt Minnie as Aunt “So-and-So” or forgetting the stories behind the photos all together. With an archive containing over 150 years of family memories, Chas. knew it was important to share those stories with his own family so that none of the faces or stories would be lost to history. It was his hope that the archive would tell the family story, providing insights such as, “What our great, great grandparents looked like; where they lived; what they did for fun.” These photos give glimpses into the lives of the family, as well as insights into their joys and pastimes. The archive serves as a bridge between eras, reminding us that as Chas. said, “Our ancestors aren’t really gone if people still remember them.” With his archive, he ensures that the memories of those who came before him live on for generations to come.

Black and white multi-generational family photo taken in 1957.
A Martin Family Gathering in 1957.

The Heartwarming Response

Sharing this archive with his extended family elicited an overwhelming response. Cousins—first, second, and even third—enjoyed the opportunity to witness these historical snippets from their family tree. He noted that many of them were “delighted to see most of these photos for the first time.” These were the faces and stories they’d heard about from their parents and grandparents, now brought to life through this digital time capsule. With the ease and accessibility of his public archive, Chas. was able to share his personal collection of photos far beyond what the limits of a physical collection would allow.

Black and white photo of a man with a beard. The photo appears to be from the late 1800s.
James Martin, husband of Isabel Jane Wilson and father of Charles Edgar Martin, Sr.

Shared Memories

The beauty of a Permanent archive lies not just in preserving the past, but in fostering connections in the present. These memories create family ties, reminding us of who we are and where we come from. So, as we navigate the whirlwind of the holiday season, let’s not forget to pause, cherish, and preserve the memories that define us. After all, in these moments, our family legacy thrives. We hope Chas.’s archive inspires you to share the legacies of your own families and helps you see just how valuable a tool a public archive can be to bring your family closer together this holiday season. In closing, we’d like to also thank Chas. E. Martin for the incredible care he put into this archive and for allowing us to share it with our members. 

Happy Holidays!