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Family Photographs

Some families have old photographs.  Usually people depicted in old photographs are not identified, and this causes problems.  If identified with names, places and dates, these photographs can be very useful in compiling and illustrating a genealogy.  Take copies, never the originals in case they are lost, and show them to relatives in the hopes names, places and dates can be provided.  This research can often result in the acquisition of additional photographs and a great deal of new information about a particular family.

Clues to dating a picture can come from comparing the details of costumes, accessories and backgrounds to a photograph of a known date.  The style of a women's dress, sleeves of a blouse, the detail in collars, and even the arrangement of hair can all provide an idea of the date the picture was taken. Photographs were usually taken at the time of a wedding, anniversary, family reunion or some other significant event because of the expense.

Photographs may be worth a thousand words, but only if they are properly identified!  File them with the family whose members they depict.  Never write on the backs of photographs with pen and ink because the ink will etch through and damage the image on the other side.  Write lightly with a soft pencil, or better still, write the information on a separate piece of paper and file it with the picture. 

Photographs of ancestors can be copied, reduced and then placed on special charts that are available from genealogical supply stores.  A family history presentation can be made more interesting by locating and obtaining copies of old photographs depicting the occupation of an ancestor, the old homestead, the community as a whole, the school attended, and the church in which an ancestor worshipped.

The following types of photographs may be found in family collections: 



Tintypes, cartes-de-visite, cabinet prints