Tag Archives: Genealogy Photo Detective

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

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There’s a Good Chance This Photo Mystery Is Solved!
Posted by Maureen

Last week’s Photo Detective post about this family introduced four steps to tackle a mystery photo:

1.    Establish a time frame.

2.    Focus on place.

3.    Search for records.

4.    Watch for matches.

Barbara Rivers’ photo depicts a set of parents and their five children.  Based on the clothing clues, I dated the image to circa 1897.

As I suggested, Barbara went back through her genealogical material and add a bit more detail to her original query:

  • Barbara thinks the family lived in Blackhawk, Grundy County, Iowa.  A more specific location will hopefully make finding a match easier.
  • The last name of Findlay, which may belong to this family, has variant spellings including Findley or Finley. Spelling differences aren’t uncommon. Our ancestors used different versions of their own names, and census enumerators didn’t ask for the correct spelling.

Since the surname is variable, Barbara should do a broad search of censuses. Most genealogy websites automatically look for variant spellings as long as you don’t filter results to exact spellings.

I estimate the ages of the children in this photo between 20 and early 30s.  In the 1880 census, they’d all be living in their parents’ household. By 1900, several of the children may have moved away.

Barbara found a Joseph F. Findlay in the 1880 census and a Joseph T. Findlay in the 1900 census, whom she believes to be the same man. Both were born in Pennsylvania, and married in Illinois to a woman with the same name.

Finding a Match

I found Joseph F. and Joseph T. Findley in FamilySearch censuses. In 1880, Joseph F. had children Alpheus (20), Thomas (17), Fatima (12), Abbie (10) and Emery (6).

Adding 17 years to their ages for an estimated 1897 photo date gives us Alpheus (37), Thomas (34), Fatima (27), Abbie (27) and Emery (23). 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

 

 

3 Tips to Locate Photos of Ancestors’ School Days

Vicki’s Note – article from Family Tree Magazine 9-1-2016.  There is a 6 volume set of One Room Rock County Rural Schoolhouse pictures and histories at the Beloit Public Library  – both in our Local History/ Genealogy collection and copies to check out and borrow to use at home.

Book Cover

A history of the rural schools of Rock County, Wisconsin. Vol. 1 : townships of Avon, Beloit, Bradford

Kidder, Clark.
[Place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], c2014-2015. 2015

Location Call No. Status
 Beloit Genealogy & Local History  GEN 378.7758 Kidder 2015 Oct v.1  REFERENCE
 Beloit Adult Non-Fiction  378.7758 Kidder 2015 Oct v.1  ON SHELF

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3 Tips to Locate Photos of Ancestors’ School Days

Photo Detective with Maureen A. Taylor

Sunday, September 04, 2016
3 Tips to Locate Photos of Ancestors’ School Days
Posted by Maureen A Taylor

For the first three years of grade school, I went to class in a 19th-century building. A big wide staircase and a classroom cloak room stick in my mind. That building is long gone, replaced by a modern school. I’ve search for a picture of the original structure to see if my memories of it compare to how it actually looked.

Finding images of the schools my family attended is a good beginning to understanding their classroom experience, and it helps flesh out my family story.

Depending on when and where they lived, the school could be a one-room schoolhouse or a massive brick-and-mortar city school.


Nebraska State Historical Society, [Digital ID, e.g., nbhips 12036]

If your ancestor attended school in Nebraska, count yourself lucky. The Nebraska State Historical Society added images to the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress. This one is a sod school, District 62, 2 miles west of Merna, Custer County, Neb., in 1889.

In this picture, you can see the backwards writing on the bottom edge of the original glass plate.

According to the cataloging record, in 1974, someone identified the teacher in the middle as Elsie Thomas who married a Bidgood. One of the girls in the back row, second to the left of the teacher, is Nettie Hannawald. There is another picture of Nettie online as well.

Tip 1: Look online. Search the Library of Congress for pictures of schools in places your ancestors lived. Choose “Photos, Prints, Drawings” from the dropdown menu at the top, and type search terms such as Merna Nebraska school.

Then expand your search to Google images. A quick search for history of public school architecture Grand Rapids resulted in a lot of hits including an online article and photo essays for Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tip 2: Check newspapers.
In a town where I once lived, an old schoolhouse is now a bank, but I learned a lot about the building form old newspapers. In the 1930s, some members of the town balked at installing indoor plumbing. The old outhouse was good enough, they said.

Search newspapers looking for school information:

  • You might locate information about the school building.
  • Merit student lists in the paper could mention your relative
  • There might be an engraving or a photograph published

Tip 3: Ask the locals. Public libraries and historical societies often have pictures of old school buildings. Check the library or society website for a collection of digital images. Include school yearbooks in your search.

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:
http://journaltimes.com/calendar/community/old-photos-detective-workshop/event_758707d2-88b9-11e5-9892-13e509783bd3.html