Identifying people or places in those old photos

Family Photograph

Do you know the names of those in your family photos?

So you have these photos of the 1800’s that look like they might be related, you are not sure, you think they look like photos you have of some people that are older.
What to do?

First, see if you can identity where the photo was taken. The one above was in a studio it seems. Some studios have their name on the backs of the photos, some have the photo in a frame and then their studio name and the city, state is on the frame itself. >It is important that you keep the photos in these frames<  if you have to remove the photograph, take a photo of the photograph in the frame -the front and back- and then a photo of the photograph itself -the front and back- this will help with identifying it and knowing where it came from.

Some photos will have the name of the photographer or studio. Finding out information about the studio, if there are any archives may help you in identifying where or when the photograph was taken.

You may notice that many older photos are on post cards. This was really popular in the early 1900’s. This fact will help you identify the time the photo was taken, and here is a link that may help you identify your photo postcard itself                                                      

An unmarked photo is much hard to identify. There are a few things you can do:

  1. the best thing to do is to contact living relatives who might be able to identify the people and perhaps tell you about their lives – for example we have one aunt that lives in another state and I will snail mail her a copy of the photograph and call her in a few days to make sure she received it and has had time to identify it.
  2. If you have an idea of what city or county or state the photograph may have been taken, you could contact a librarian, historian, genealogical society, or newspaper in the area. Tell them all that you know about the photo and ask if they know of anyone that could help you identify it. – for example, I think the photo above was taken in Illinois, possibly the county of Logan.
  3. post the photo on a social media site where others are actively seeking their ancestors too – for example some of my relatives are on Facebook and we share photos to help each other identify them.
  4. Another example is a family tree site where participants post photos they have ask others to help identify the time it was taken or if they recognize any of the people or buildings in the photo – for example, I posted another photo and a complete stranger is helping me find out information and has already sent me a link that I didn’t have before.
  5. search on a family genealogy site for a similar photo. If you know the family name the photo is related to – for example, I think the photo above is related to the Clarke family because it was in with other family photos that we did recognize. I will log in and search other family trees for similar looking people in the photo or a similar photo.
  6. take a photo of it with the other photographs or items it came with or was found with, then put it in an envelope, write on the envelope any information you have about the photo – for example, on the envelope for this photo I would put these labels and then underline the response/answer:
      • what is the family name associated with this photo _____

      (in this photo, I know it is the Clarke family)

      • who I think it might be ______________
      • where I got the photo _____________
      • what other photos were with it _____________

      (this was in with my grandfathers photos)

      • what year(s) you think the photo was taken, _________
      • today’s date ______________________  It is important to put the current date on the envelope, this will help with researching it later.

It may take some time before you get your answers. Be patient.

Published by humblegenealogist @ we do the digging so you can enjoy the tree

Starting in 1970, the experience and journey has created well-seasoned researching techniques. Current and active participation in continuing education, staying up to date with technology, and including weekly contact with other professional genealogists: including family historians, genealogy clubs and historical societies, keeps the knowledge and ongoing learning in an ever changing world up to date.

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