Label Those Photos

You are the keeper of the family treasure of vintage photos, so now what. The most important is to get them labeled with who or what is in the photos, a location and a time period. Working with older relatives who might know the names and places in a photograph is your best start. You can scan a digital copy or photocopy several as a hard copy to mail to them.  NOTE also, if you are not the keeper of the family photos, do offer to assist who is so the images get labeled.

Doing the labeling starts with writing on the backs of vintage photographs with a #2 pencil. It is preferred because it’s not too hard nor too soft, plus it won’t leave an indentation in the photograph. That is super important, since indentations come through to the photo side, marring the image.

When labeling newer or more recent photos that have been processed on coated papers, pencil won’t work so you’ll need to use a non-bleeding archival quality marker. These may look like felt tip markers, but the tip comes out of a metal shaft. These are found in quality crafts and hobby stores plus they are not water based so won’t bleed through the photo. As you mark on the back, place aside for the ink dries totally, do not make a stack of these photos just labeled. 

When labeling, NEVER place solely a nickname or a family pet name for an individual such as ‘Dickie’, ‘High Pockets’ or ‘Speedy’. No one years down the road will know for sure who that is. Instead, place the full name and add in brackets any nicknames. Also do not write ‘Grandmother Ethel’ – because it is not known whose grandmother and Ethel might have been her middle name.

Label where the photos was taken, especially if in front or in a house. Whose house and if you can find the street name or complete address, add that. Note anything else in the photos, a view of the family car, pets, unusual items shown, etc.

Dates are very important but can the hardest to get accurate. You might not know the exact date but you might be able to figure the year or what portion of a decades, such as early 1890s. Using clothing styles, the people’s age appearance, if there is a child and you know approximately their age and birth year that narrows it down.

Getting family photos can take a good deal of time, but working on a few once a week you have quite a bit accomplished very soon.

Photos: Vintage Family photos that have been labeled: 1860-70~Fannie Sherman in Maryland; Dr. David G. Everhart-a dentist with a patient in 1912, in Maryland; Capt. Joseph Groff house on North Market St in Frederick, MD in the late 1920s; and Son, David Everhart Jr., his father David Sr. and daughter, Nan Everhart in 1943 in Frederick, MD on North Market St.

Related Blogs:

Vintage Places and People

Edit Vintage Photos

Tips to Identify Old Photos

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.