BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A discovery at a Long Island hospital is reuniting tens of thousands of people with their own baby pictures.

Thousands of hospital photos taken of newborn babies in the 1950s and ‘60s have been found. Now, they’re being given to the families, CBS2’s Elise Finch reported.

Margaret Power is one of many Suffolk County residents thankful for the Bay Shore Historical Society, where volunteers preserved a piece of her history she didn’t even know existed.

“I’m the fifth of seven kids, so there’s no baby pictures of me at all – none,” she said.

Until now.

“Bay Shore Photo closed and they had baby negatives taken at birth of all the babies born at Southside Hospital from 1956 to 1968,” Bay Shore Historical Society President Barry Dlouhy told Finch.

The owners’ daughter was left with roughly 40,000 negatives. So she donated them to the Bay Shore Historical Society. Now, it’s giving them out to people, free of charge.

It means a lot to the little babies who are now all grown up.

“Now I can compare my children’s photos to it,” said Power. “These are like gold to me.”

“It’s nice to have that type of tangible piece of evidence of the day you were born,” resident Joan Dlouhy said.

For most people, this was the first picture of them ever taken.

All people have to do to claim their photo is provide their date of birth and their mother’s name. Volunteers do the rest.

It took two volunteers five years to organize all the negatives by year and then alphabetize them based on the mothers’ names.

“It’s family heirlooms and it shouldn’t be destroyed, so I’m so grateful to the historical society for keeping them. It really is amazing,” said resident Valerie Hand.

Some envelopes do contain pictures, but most are negatives that need to be developed. Several thousand have been given away so far, but more than 30,000 are still waiting to be claimed.

Historical society volunteers think the negatives were typically given to parents who purchased pictures of their babies.

They’ve been giving out the un-purchased negatives for about 10 years, but interest is peaking now as people read about it on social media.