Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos
Author: Maureen A. Taylor
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Family photos capture some of the most meaningful moments in life—wedding, babies, graduations, military service, and holidays. Your old family photos are full of important family history clues. Family Photo Detective helps you identify and research these clues that can further your genealogy research. Photo identification expert and genealogist Maureen A. Taylor, author of the Family Tree Magazine’s Photo Detective blog and magazine column, shows you how to put names to faces and recapture the lost stories of your old family photos.
Inside, you’ll learn how to:
- Determine the type of image you have—from common paper prints to stereographs to historical daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes
- Use clothing, accessories, and hairstyles to date the image in the correct decade
- Research photographer imprints to narrow down when and where the photo was taken
- Compare facial features in multiple photos to confirm identity and family resemblance
- Interview family members to gather more information about the image
- Identify props in the photo to create context for the image
Each chapter includes dozens of historical photos to illustrate key points and provide clear examples. Charts, timelines and resource lists make it easy to find the exact information you need. Dozens of case studies show you how to apply the techniques in the book to real-life photo research projects. This completely updated third edition (previously published as Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs) features more than 10 new case studies, information on digital photography, and a new chapter on photograph albums.
This is the definitive how-to book on historical photo identification. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the valuable tips you’ll find in Family Photo Detective:
- Often, a photographer’s imprint will mention a partnership or the prior owner of the studio. This will assist you in trying to locate the dates of operation. Partnerships were usually short-lived and photographers, unless they had a steady clientele and solid reputation, moved around looking for better economic opportunities.
- Wedding photographs in the nineteenth century do not resemble the wedding photographs of today. White gowns were generally not worn because they were an unnecessary expense. Even if a bride wore a formal white gown, she would not be photographed in it, because early cameras could not photograph bright colors in any detail. Wedding portraits usually show the married couple in regular clothes or in their traveling garments.
- Dating and identifying exterior scenes is not a subjective process; you will be able to date many of the visible details through library research. Use a magnifying glass to examine the image for particular items that can be dated, such as business signs and architectural and technological elements. Each one of these details can be researched further and provide irrefutable evidence of a time period. Signage can be verified by consulting city directories. This will tell you when a company was in business and where it was located.
Contents of the Family Photo Detective
- Chapter 1: Bringing the Past to Life
- Chapter 2: Talking with Relatives
- Chapter 3: Cased Images
- Chapter 4: Paper Prints and Negatives
- Chapter 5: Color and Digital Photographs
- Chapter 6: Identifying the Photographer
- Chapter 7: Images from Birth to Death
- Chapter 8: Looking for Clues
- Chapter 9: Identifying Costume
- Chapter 10: Reading the Clues in Photographs
- Chapter 11: Photography Albums
- Chapter 12: Adding Up the Clues
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