REDWOOD CITY — Jeanne Roehm likes to witness change.

The 82-year-old Redwood City woman decided when she was just 10 to pursue her interests by cataloging family photos — some of which date back to the 1800s.

"I started (collecting) because I wanted to be close to my family, and that was the way to do it," Roehm said. "It's neat to be able to show my family roots to other family members."

Roehm's father was a photographer and he encouraged her interest in the subject at an early age. He bought Roehm her first camera for Christmas in 1936. But it wasn't until Roehm's aunt sent her a photo of her great-grandfather from 1864 that Roehm decided to begin her collection.

"Seeing that photo kind of got me thinking, 'We're back this far, I should keep building from here,'" she recalled. "I chose to begin collecting in order to make a better connection between my family and (me)."

Since then, Roehm has amassed 73 albums, each containing at least 200 pictures. In all, Roehm has collected and catalogued more than 14,000 photos of various family members through history.

Roehm has plenty of family with whom to share the photos, including three children, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. The photos even serve as a form of entertainment.

"My brother came to check out the photos and brought his children," Roehm said. "They immediately wanted to come back. They spent four hours looking at pictures and still didn't want to leave."


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Roehm's extensive collection of pictures all stemmed from an innate interest in observing transformation. It's a hobby she still pursues with her own photography.

"I just like to record things," Roehm said. "I like watching how my plants do one year as opposed to how they do another year. I compare them. I watch them change."

Alan Fackler can be reached at 650-348-4302 or afackler@bayareanewsgroup.com.