Notes for "Identifying Old Photos"
Marilyn Toole

First of rule of research: State the PROBLEM: "Who is that?"

Get as many photos as you can: the more clues, the more they will reveal, think about where you can get more.
      Become family historian, take scanner to reunion
Who, when, where, who gave the photo to you, date, details
Remember you can RARELY be 100% positive.

Get Organized
Family history vital! Who is Where in What generation! Have your family tree nearby

Knowledge of photography history*
Research ability for cars, clothing, etc. Google your research subject

Use both LOGIC and intuition

Which side of the family did the pictures come from? WHY did someone keep them?
Scrapbooks: photocopy pages in order before taking apart Donít get them mixed up!

BEGIN ID process:
    SCAN them in color at 600 TIF
    Crop and enlarge, print, group all together
    Use friendsí opinions,  SEND them to your relatives. TAKE them to the reunion
    Put them on your facebook and Ancestry pages.

Sort into common groupings:
    Whom do they look like, remind you of, are with?
 
Totally unknown people:
    Separate family/friends/associates also problematic: babies, elderly, twins, friends
--donít fit anywhere. Don't discard, emerging technology such as Picassa's facial recognition may come to your aid in the future.
   
Studio portrait: for a special occasion?

IDEAL: Labeled, with date, name, and studio name and address on it. Look at fashion, features, hair style   
       
Types of photos: cabinet card--can research city directories for dates studio in business
Salt prints--
1841
Daguerreotypes 1855-65--2 Ĺ by 3 ľ
Gold toning--1841
Albumen: 1850
Ambrotypes: 1851
Crayon portraits: 1860s-early 1900s

Take face apart: Face shapes:



Hair: color, curls, hairline widow's peak?
Brow height & slope, eyebrows, eyes, lids, bags, uneven eyes, nose, bridge, profile, distance between nose & lip distance, lips shape, teeth, braces chin. dimples, warts, scars, wrinkles, lobes, pierced? Height, weight, build, complexion (see civil war medical exams in pension files)
Check out the EARS


Snapshots: Look at EVERY detail--clothing, compare to other photos, era, jewelry, background, cars, licenses, house numbers, house details, buildings, etc. City? Rural?

Ask yourself questions:

    WHY are these people together? Occasion?
    Who is taking the photo? Who is missing? Can explain unidentified people
    Check out groupings of body language

BECOME SO FAMILIAR with the faces that you would know them instantly if you passed them on the street. Go over again and again, looking at every detail.
FRAME and put out for viewing.

Make a list: Who is missing? Who was integral/talked about a lot in your relatives' lives?
WHY are there no photos of them? WHO might have them? Cousins? Historical Society?

Photocopy & write notes on, show to others, put away for a while

Recommended book "Forensic Genealogy" by Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD.