Tag Archives: family photographs

Solving Photo Mysteries

∞ Vicki’s Note – Maureen has given us some efficient steps on how to effectively search for solutions to our unknown ancestors in mystery photographs.  We can find the answer to the “I know they are my ancestors, but I don’t know who they are” quandary.

I have found her books and her BLOG invaluable to find photograph identification answers.  Maureen is one of my genealogy heroes.

 Solving Photo Mysteries

 Maureen A Taylor – photodetective.  FamilyTreeMagazine.com

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Read her full article here –  There’s a Good Chance This Photo Mystery Is Solved!


There’s a Good Chance This Photo Mystery Is Solved!
Posted by Maureen…four steps to tackle a mystery photo:1.    Establish a time frame.

2.    Focus on place.

3.    Search for records.

4.    Watch for matches.

… Based on the clothing clues, I dated the image to circa 1897.

… go through her genealogical material and add a bit more detail to her original query:

  • ….  A more specific location will hopefully make finding a match easier.
  • The last name …. Spelling differences aren’t uncommon….do a broad search of censuses. … don’t filter results to exact spellings.

…estimate the ages of the children in this photo …  In the 1880 census,… 1900 …

Finding a Match

I found …in FamilySearch censuses. In 1880, Joseph F. had children …

Adding 17 years to their ages for an estimated 1897 photo date gives us…  This identification seems to fit the mysterious photo.

Next, I’d encourage Barbara to do “reverse genealogy,” and research forward in time to find descendants of all these children. She then could reach out to find out photographs of them and verify that the faces match.

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

·  Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries

·  Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900

·  Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

·  Hairstyles 1840-1900

·  Photo-Organizing Practices

·  Preserving Your Family Photographs

·  Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now




How to Organize Your Family Photos

Vicki’s Note – Facebook posting from AncestralFindings.com 1-19-2017:

How to Organize Your Family Photos


Even those of us who aren’t genealogists usually accumulate a lot of photographs over the years. Some of them end up in albums, others are scattered in digital folders, shoe boxes, and even empty drawers. Genealogists gather even more photos than the average person, through inheritance, gifting, sharing with other genealogists, and a sense of needing to photograph nearly everything to document special and even average family moments for future generations. Taking photos and accumulating them is an important part of genealogy, and it is easy to do. What is not so easy is organizing them. Yet, if you don’t organize them, the identities of those in the photos may be lost to time, and the photos themselves challenging to find when you want to look at certain ones.

There are many different ways of organizing family photos, and you really should do what works best for you. The two most important things to remember are to always label the photos and to keep them organized in a sensible way, usually by category and date. If the photos are physical ones, you should label them on the back with a soft-tipped pen that is marketed as being safe for photographs. If they are digital photos, typing in a name for the photo file will do it. Make sure you include the names of everyone in the photo, their positions in the photo, the place the photo was taken, and the date it was taken. If the photo is from a special occasion, indicate that in your labeling, too. Never neglect to label your photos.

When it comes to organizing them, you have a lot of choices at your disposal. This is the method I use, and it allows me to always be able to find any photo I need quickly and easily, be it a digital photo or a physical photo.

Organizing Physical Photos

I use acid free albums with plastic sleeves for each individual photo. You should never use the old albums with adhesive backing or any album that requires you to glue or tape in your photos, as this can damage them over the years. Each photo is labeled appropriately on the back. I organize the photos by date and by family branch.

I’ll dedicate one album to one branch of the family, then put photos in them in chronological order, starting with the oldest ones, working up to the newest ones. I do this with the general photos that don’t commemorate any specific event or activity. In the back of the album, or in an entirely different album, I organize the photos for that family branch by event type, in chronological order from oldest to newest. Some albums have many clusters of “event” or “activity” photos in them.

Once the photos are organized in an album, I type up a label for the spine of the album indicating the family branch, the years covered (if I had to make more than one volume to keep all of the photos), and the events included (for event or activity photo albums). That way, I can easily read the labels to see what albums contain which photos, and can grab the album I need and flip to the photo or photos I want without any searching required.

Organizing Digital Photos

Organizing digital photos is similar to organizing physical ones, except you do it on your computer with a variety of labeled digital file folders. I create a master folder for each family branch for which I have digital photos. In each master folder, I put sub-folders. I also distinguish between contemporary photos of people I know, and ancient, ancestral photos. Contemporary photos have sub-folders indicating the individual or group of individuals whose photos will be going in those sub-folders, as well as the years the photos in the sub-folders cover. I make additional sub-folders within the sub-folders for photos of special events or activities pertaining to that person or people. Sub-folders for individuals or groups of individuals will go in their master family line folder. All photos are named beginning with the date the photo was taken (or approximate date), who is in the photo, and where it was taken. Sub-sub-folders for events and activities will have those events and activities in the folder names.

For ancient ancestral photos, I do the same thing, except I also include sub-folders for photos of genealogical documents. For each master family line folder, I include sub-folders for photos of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and certificates, military records, newspaper clippings, census records, land records, and any other genealogical documents for which I may have photos.

If I have one main ancestor for a master family folder, I also make sub-folders for branches of that main ancestor’s family. These master folders can accumulate hundreds of photos if you have done a lot of work on the family line. For example, I have a Moneymaker line I’m researching. I’ve been able to trace it back to the original German immigrant in the late 1700’s. My photo organization of the digital photos for this family looks like this:

  • A master folder named Moneymaker Family
  • A sub-folder for the original German immigrant, labeled The Luis Moneymaker Family
  • Within the Luis Moneymaker folder, I have sub-folders for each of his 7 children, each labeled with their name, such as The Jacob Moneymaker Family
  • Within the sub-folders of Luis’s children, I include sub-folders of their children, and so on, down to the present day Moneymaker family
  • Within the sub-folders for each person, I include sub-folders for regular photos, organized in the same way I organize and label physical photos
  • The sub-folders for each individual person also include sub-folders for all the types of different genealogical documents I have pertaining to them

You’ve got to sometimes click-through a lot of sub-folders to get what you want, but once you do, all you have to do is look through the dates on the photo names, going from oldest to newest to find exactly what you want. You can find what you’re looking for quickly, and no photo ever gets lost this way. Your photos are labeled and organized in a way that makes sense and makes even a single photo among hundreds simple to locate any time. Be sure to back up your digital photos and their folders and sub-folders to one or more external hard drives and keep at least one drive away from the house, so your photos won’t be lost if your computer is broken or stolen. You’ll always be able to get them back again. Back up each time you add new photos, and use the off-site hard drives to back up what you’ve collected at least twice a year, or more if it’s convenient for you.

As you accumulate more photos of both the digital and physical kinds, just label them appropriately and add them to the proper album or digital file folder and/or sub-folder. Do it as soon as you get them, and you’ll never have an accumulation of photos to organize again. Just get them organized once, then organize as you go. You will enjoy your photos more, your research will be made easier (especially when it comes to sharing photos with newfound relatives), and future generations will thank you for doing it, as you are creating wonderful heirlooms that will mean something to the generations of the future, because they will know who is in the photos and the significance of each one.

This is just one method of many for organizing photos, but it works really well for me. It will work for you, too.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Family Photographs

(Note from Vicki, article from About.com)

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Family Photographs

By David L. Mishkin, Just Black & White

 More of this Feature
• Part 2: Preservation
• Part 3: Safe Storage
• Part 4: Restoration
 Join the Discussion
“Have a question about your old photographs?”
Ask the Expert!
  Related Resources
• Dating Old Photos
• Heritage Albums
Preservation Tips
 From Other Guides
• Storing Old Photos
• Scrapbooking
• History:Photography
• NotablePhotographers

So your mother, father, aunt, uncle just unloaded a shoebox full of family photographs on you because of your interest in the family history. You have finished identifying the relatives as well as possible and now have no idea how to store the photographs for future generations. You realize that some of them are in great shape but some are fading, some are sticking to each other and some photographs have mold on them….Yuck!

What is a genealogist to do now? It is a good idea as a first step to be able to identify the most common types of photographic processes. This will help confirm the period of time the photographs were made of that member of your family.

I have worked with several genealogists to help identify their photographs. On one occasion, a positive identification of a salt print allowed us to determine that this photograph was of the researcher’s great-grandmother, whereas most of her family believed it was their grandmother. On another occasion, the identification allowed us to learn the proper orientation of an image. This allowed the researcher to conclude that this was in fact the house his grandfather was born in. 

(Click on links to read the entire article.)

Be a Photo Detective with Your Old Photographs: Wed.Nov 18, 2015 7 pm Burlington Genealogical Society

Be a Photo Detective with Your Old Photographs
Free workshop
Wed. Nov 18, 2015 7-9 pm
Public invited.
Burlington Genealogical Society
Gateway Building, Burlington, WI

Here’s a photo that needs detective help…
all that is known: 2nd row from left, second person is Ida Paulsen Jensen, third person is Jens Jensen or Kaae or Coe.
They were married.Both lived in Racine, immigrated about 1880. Photo was taken here. Could this be a Danish group? When, where?

Burlington Photo Detective

You are invited to bring 1-2 photos, postcards, or maps that have been scanned to a thumb drive or DVD (high resolution best.)
The photos will be projected onto the big screen for detective work/fun looking for more details, clues, information, etc.
Please make sure your scans are easy to find on the thumb drive to save time in the workshop, and have your name and the Image names
written clearly on a slip of paper to go with the thumb drive.

Details about the workshop:



Sample Tips from “How to Archive Family Photos”

How to Archive Family Photos

A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally

By Denise May Levenick

Anyone who’s held an estate sale will tell you that it’s much easier to pull a box of printed photos out of a trash bin than to retrieve a deleted folder from a computer hard drive. Don’t wait until it’s too late to save your family photos! My book How to Archive Family Photos will show you step by step how to create your own photo library for easy photo backup and retrieval.
Denise May Levenick, Author, How to Archive Family Photos

You’ll love this book if…

  • You’re overwhelmed by managing all your digital photos from your smartphone, camera and tablet, plus scanned genealogy images and documents
  • You want a storage system that lets you find photos fast and manage pictures across your devices
  • You’re looking for ideas to share and enjoy your family photos

You’ve captured countless cherished family photos of babies’ first steps, graduations, weddings, holidays, vacations, and priceless everyday moments on your smartphone or digital camera. Perhaps you’ve inherited a collection of heirloom family photographs, too. But now what?

How to Archive Family Photos is a practical how-to guide for organizing your growing digital photo collection, digitizing and preserving heirloom family photos, and sharing your treasured photos.

In this book, you’ll find:

  • Simple strategies to get photos your out of a smartphone or camera and into a safe storage space
  • Easy methods to organize your digital photos
  • Concrete guidance for file-naming, tagging, and backing up your images
  • Achievable steps to digitize and preserve heirloom family photos
  • Step-by-step workflows illustrating common photo organizing and digitizing scenarios
  • Checklists for setting up your own photo organization system
  • 25 photo projects to preserve, share, and enjoy your family photos

Whether you have boxes full of tintypes and black-and-white photographs, an ever-growing collection of digital photos, or a combination of the two, How to Archive Family Photos will help you rescue your images from the depths of hard drives and memory cards (or from the backs of closets) so that you can organize and preserve your photo family photo collection for future generations.

Sample Tips from How to Archive Family Photos

1. Create a photo filing system. When you’re ready to start managing your photo collection in an organized work flow, start small with your new photos and work forward. Pick an easy-to-remember day such as your birthday, anniversary or a holiday as your “Digital Photo Birthday.” Decide that, from your Digital Photo Birthday forward, all images will be managed with your new system. Gradually, as you have time, move old photos into your new system. Don’t try to do it all at once. It will be overwhelming and you’ll lose the opportunity to refine your work flow while working with a smaller, more manageable number of photos.

2. Digitize oversized photos. It’s hard to fit a large antique print on the standard-size glass bed of a scanner. That’s when I bring out my digital camera, set the resolution to maximum megapixels, turn off the flash, and snap multiple photos from different angles. When paired with a tripod and automatic shutter release, a digital camera can become a do-it-yourself copy station that speeds up digitizing scrapbooks, photo albums, and oversize photographs.

3. Plan photo projects. A project board helps to organize your ideas and remind you of specific features offered by different services. A project board is also useful if you are planning ahead and need more photos for a project. When you’ve completed the project, the project board sheet can help you remember what online service you used and how much you paid if you want to order more copies. Scan and save the sheets to your computer or file the hard copies for later reference.