Clues from Family Photos

Using old family photographs just might provide important clues to our ancestors’ lives. Sometimes you think just having a photo of your great grandmother is enough but you might have overlooked some clues in that photo to better date the photo and to provide personal information.

You might learn what they liked or what their jobs were. You can learn the identities of other family members. You might learn who or what was important to your ancestor, such as including the family pet in the photo.

After your search with traditional genealogy records has been exhausted and you still have questions, take a second and third look at those old family photographs for clues to move your research forward.

Some things to look for in photos. Start by making each photo as clear and sharp as possible. By scanning each photo you can work with an enhancement program to make an image clearer, especially if it might have faded a bit. Study and examine even with a magnifying glass, every inch of that photo.

Make note of where you got the photo from – another relative, so you can match with the right family branch. Next, what type of photos – there are several styles over the early decades such as ‘cabinet’, or ‘carte de visite’ which can help date a photo.

Look closely at who the photographer was ( if named) and especially if there is an address for the studio. Major clues there if that information is present. True, a person could have had a portrait done in a studio miles from where they lived. There were also the popular traveling photographers.

Examine what is worn as clothing and especially any jewelry worn. Someone in the family might have that jewelry today.

Never figure that each person in a family photo are all relatives. There might a photo of your grandmother at age 17 along with her best friend (the friend was not related).

Anytime you are visiting with relatives, take the scanned photos with you and see if anyone can provide additional information. You can also email or send a disc of those digital photos for those relatives who live out of town.

There are truly be more to a vintage photos that you never considered.

Photos: 1898 photo of a young girl wearing jewelry that was handed down; and Two children, one a boy and the other a girl along with their favorite toys, but the way they dressed in 1903 it can be hard to tell.

Related Blogs:

Looking for Lost Photos

Awesome and Special Photos

Old Photo Archive Site

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