Notes for "Identifying Old Photos"
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.
Family history vital! Who is Where in What generation! Have
your family tree nearby
of photography history*
Research ability for cars, clothing,
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
Sort into common groupings:
Whom do they look like, remind you of, are
Totally unknown people:
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
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
1855-65--2 Ĺ by 3 ľ
portraits: 1860s-early 1900s
Take face apart:
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?
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?
Photocopy & write notes on, show to others, put away for a
Recommended book "Forensic Genealogy" by Colleen Fitzpatrick,