Check Out Our Genealogy Blog »

How Fashion Helps Put Dates on Photos

old family photoEvery photo has its own mystery. Who are the people in the photo? Where was it taken? What year was it taken in? These are the questions that genealogists need to find answers for when they go through boxes of old family photos. It turns out that fashion can help you discover how old a particular photo is.

Fashion is definitely something that changes over time. The popular clothing style you wore when you were in high school would probably look outdated today. Some of what people wear today, and never give a second thought to, would be considered absolutely scandalous by our ancestors from 100 or 200 years ago! This is especially true when it comes to fashions in swimwear.

It can be difficult to keep up with the latest fashions. The good news, though, is that the changes in fashion can actually help genealogists put a date on old family photos. Take a close look at what your ancestor is wearing. Certain distinctive clothing items could indicate the year the photo was taken.

There are online resources that can help you put an approximate date on the fashions in your old family photos. Vintage Fashion Guild has a timeline that gives you descriptions of the popular fashion in every decade from 1800 to 1810 through 1980 to 1990. There are photos that go along with the descriptions. You may be able to match the style that your ancestor is wearing to something in the timeline.

Glamour Daze has lots of photos of fashions that fit within a particular timeframe. Brief descriptions are added. Look toward the top of their blog, and you can find categories that go with different decades. Choose from: 1900’s fashion, 1910’s fashion, 1920’s fashion, 1930’s fashion, 1940’s fashion, 1950’s fashion, or 1960’s fashion.

Another good resource for genealogists who are trying to use fashion to put a date on old photos comes from Bridal Guide. They have put together examples of the most popular wedding fashions from the 1900’s through today. You can easily compare your old family photos of brides and grooms to the photos in this gallery.

One great thing about being able to put a date on a photo, even an approximate one, is that it can help you identify the family members who are in it. Which decade does your ancestor’s dress fit into? Compare that information with your family tree. Who was alive at that time? Fashion might help you to solve the mystery of who is in your old family photos.

Image by ierdnall on Flickr.

Related Articles:

* Women of the 1850s and ’60s

* Collections of U.S. Historic Photos

* Public Domain Photos

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.