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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, December 29, 2013
Photo Tips to Start Your New Year Right
Posted by Maureen

I don't know about you, but I don't make New Year's Resolutions. What I do instead is think of ways to accomplish achievable goals.  Here are few ideas for 2014.

Back Up Your Photo Files
This morning I opened my digital photo organizer of choice, Picasa, and discovered that the new upgrade will automatically back up my photos and keep them private until the user changes the settings. Here's the good news about Picasa. It's free.  Love it or hate it, Picasa is a pretty easy way to organize your digital images. The added back-up feature is a nice addition.


Collaborate with Cousins
This year brought new ways to share and collaborate on family photos.  I've been playing with the features on these three sites. LOVE how easy it is to upload, share and collaborate.

Are you familiar with Flickr.com?  Users get one terabyte of free online storage and the ability to either share images online or keep them completely private. Post a photo on Flickr, create a set and then share it via email with specific individuals. They can comment on the images. 

You can also collaborate using MyHeritage.com. It's a private site that has what I call a "photo dashboard" for each uploaded image that includes file properties and names of individuals you've tagged.  You can share those pictures with family and see their comments on your picture.

FamilySearch.com's new emphasis on adding photographs to family trees is good news for genealogists. All posted photos are publicly searchable, not private. It's free to sign-up and set up a tree.

Review Your Family History with a Relative
In November I spent an afternoon with a cousin going through boxes of material she'd received from a deceased relative. She's a genealogical newbie and didn't know our shared family history.

In this new collection were photos, documents and personal papers that cleared up some of the things I didn't know about her immediate family. It was so much fun to sit with her and explain who was who in the photographs.

I can't wait to do it again! My fingers are crossed that I finally have a cousin that's going to be a genealogical research partner.

Identify One Photo At a Time
Look at your box of photos and pull one out. What do you know about the photo and the people depicted? If it's a mystery photo then follow the chain of clues--photographic method, photographer's work dates, fashion clues and props to set it in a time frame and tell it's story.

It's overwhelming to work on a whole box of photos in one sitting. Start with one and see where it leads.

Don't forget if you need help you can submit the image to this column. Just click the How to Submit Your Photo Link on the left. Every week I tackle a photo mystery.


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Photo fun | photo-research tips | Web sites
    Sunday, December 29, 2013 7:44:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, December 01, 2013
    Holiday Crafts: Photo Ornaments
    Posted by Maureen

    Are you feeling crafty? It's time for some photo-related holiday crafts.

    Margaret Cole used copies of her family photos as Christmas ornaments:
     
    ColeFamily Tree2 (2).jpg

    Here's how she did it:

    Each photo is 3x4 inches. She printed each image on matte photo paper and to make it sturdy, used photo-safe glue to mount it onto heavy art paper from a 9x12 inch pad cut into 3x4 inch pieces.

    colefront2.jpg

    There's more! On the back of each ornament is family tree information—birth, death and marriage data.

    cole closeup.jpg

    Margaret printed the information from her Ancestry.com family tree using the "publish" format.  She used either the "Person Report-Individual Report" or "Relationship Report-Family Group Sheet." She adjusted the print size to 3x4 inch format and glued it on.

    She added a narrow ribbon to frame each photo and make a loop for hanging.

    Thank you Margaret!

    If you want to see more photo crafts check out my past columns, Photo Crafts From Our Readers and Photo Craft Directions, as well as Family Tree Magazine's Family History Crafts and Gifts Pinterest board.

    You can also order some pretty neat photo-related gifts at Ancestry Games and sites like Snapfish.com.

    I'd love to hear about your photo crafts. You can email me and tell me all about it.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • holiday | Photo fun
    Sunday, December 01, 2013 6:30:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, February 25, 2013
    Who Do You Think You Are? Live!
    Posted by Maureen

    As you read this, I'm still in the London, England area visiting with friends. Here's a glimpse of me at last year's Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show.

    WDYTYA2012.jpg

    It's exhilarating to meet with so many people to discuss their photos. As you can tell from the smile on my face ... it's a lot of fun. I'll have new photos next week.

    I always see so many interesting photos in England. Photographic formats are a little different, and the clothing worn for pictures can identify what someone did for work or if they were a member of the ruling class.

    I'm still working on a US mystery, too. Dick Eastman's blog alerted me to a photo problem at the Levine Museum of the New South. You can view the album here. I've dated the images for the museum. The majority are from the late 1870s, and I am working with them to figure out who's who. Stay posted for updates!


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • photo albums | Photo fun
    Monday, February 25, 2013 7:28:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, February 04, 2013
    Reuniting Orphan Photos With Family
    Posted by Maureen

    Have you ever walked into an antique store and found a photo with a name on it? This is known as an orphan photo. 

    At some point in its photographic lifespan, it became separated from its family. Photos are rarely mentioned in probate records, their inheritance often a matter of serendipity. When family members die and no one steps forward to claim pictures, they end up in tag sales, antique shops and on eBay.

    The next time you see one of these pictures, consider purchasing it. Using your genealogical research skills, you might be able to reunite it with family members that "lost" a piece of the past. They'll be glad you found it.

    I'm working on two such images, but haven't solved the ownership mystery yet. Here's what I've done to research the images.

    1) Date the Image
    Unless the name on the image is unusual, it's necessary to have a time frame. Photographer's work dates, clothing details, props and photographic format can place the image within a range of dates. Next, I estimate the age of the person in the image.

    2) Consult the Census
    Using information in the photographer's imprint, such as geographic location, can help narrow down the search parameters. I start by searching the census using full names. Since the name on the image might be a nickname, also try wildcard searching. If the photo was taken in a small town, it's sometimes useful to browse through the census for that area to locate others with a similar surname.

    3) Use City Directories
    Ancestry.com, Fold3.com and local libraries and historical societies often have city directories. Search for the photographer and for the surname of the person pictured.

    4) Survey the News
    Since it was common for family to visit photo studios when they were on vacation or visiting relatives, it's a good idea to see if there are any newspaper stories about special events or advertisements for the photographer. Each resource provides you with an opportunity to verify the information in the caption.

    5) Check Genealogical Databases
    Search a variety of genealogical databases such as Ancestry.com and Geni.com. On Ancestry, click the box "Family Trees" at the bottom of the search screen to search for matches. On Geni.com, use the Search People box on the top right.

    In addition to these tips, I also analyze the handwriting to determine if someone living within the lifetime of the person depicted wrote the caption, or a descendant did it later. For instance, ballpoint pen is a 20th-century invention.

    Sometimes success is just a few clicks away, while other times the answer seems out of reach.

    This month, I'll also blog about other ways to reconnect with your "missing" family photos.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Photo fun | photo-research tips | Photo-sharing sites | Reunions
    Monday, February 04, 2013 8:13:50 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, October 29, 2012
    Photo Manipulation Before Photo Shop
    Posted by Maureen

    Last weekend I was in New York City for The Genealogy Event. If I'm going to be in New York City, I always make time for a visit to the Metropolitan Museum. I can't resist their photo exhibits. This time I saw Faking It : Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. It was fascinating!

    Spotting a manipulated photo in your family collection might be easy or difficult. It all depends on the technique. Here are some things to look for:
    • Handcoloring

    There were technical limitations with early photography. One of them was the lack of color. Customers wanted their images to look as realistic as possible so photographers developed ways to add color to their images.

    • Ghostly images in the background

    In the 1860s and early 1870s some photographers took double-exposure images and suggested that spirits were present.

    • The addition of a background

    It was possible to add a background into an image. If you see a person posed in front of an unlikely landscape then it's possible that this image is a composite of two different images.

    • A person added in

    Years ago I bought one of these at a photo sale. Look closely at the background. There is a woman the wrong proportion to the rest of the family. She's also wearing a dress from the early 1890s while everyone else is dressed in the styles of the late 1890s.

    family045.jpg

    familyclose-up.jpg

    You can see a line around her head that illustrates the place where the studio dropped her into the scene.

    • Multiple poses of the same person

    Here's an example.

    composite.jpg This image dates from circa 1910, but this technique was common before this date.

    This young woman has three poses of herself combined into one photo. 

    Next week I'll be back with a famous example based on two Civil War photos taken by the Brady studio. 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1890s photos | 1900-1910 photos | Photo fun | unusual photos
    Monday, October 29, 2012 3:27:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, July 23, 2012
    Scenes of Moving Day
    Posted by Maureen

    I've been packing boxes for weeks getting ready to move houses. So how did our ancestors move their belongings in the past? They employed wagons and later, vans similar to the ones companies use today.

    Piketruck moving2.jpg

    Sharon Pike sent in this picture of her father-in-law's Greyhound Van Lines Truck that he drove.  It was taken in the 1940s. When he was on the road, Gene sent his wife Marion postcards nearly every day.

    Check out my Moving Day board on Pinterest. If you haven't used this site yet, it's like an online scrapbook of images found on the web. You can organize your Pinterest images in "boards" and see what others have "pinned" on their boards.  When you scroll over one of the images you can post a comment. Can't wait to see what you have to say!

    Enjoy! 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1940s photos | men | occupational | Photo fun | Photo-sharing sites
    Monday, July 23, 2012 6:35:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, January 30, 2012
    Posting Photos Online
    Posted by Maureen

    This week genealogists from all over are gathering in Salt Lake City to talk technology at RootsTech. Unfortunately, I won't be there this year, although I might check out some of the virtual offerings.

    I'm trying to finish research on a second volume of my Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation.

    There are a lot of great websites out there that enable folks to share pictures and stories. Before I list them, here are some basic tips before you post your pictures in the global world of the web.

    • Don't upload images larger than 72 dpi. That resolution is perfect for the web, but anyone trying to copy your image won't end up with a very good print.

    • Make sure you own the photo (or have written permission to post). I wouldn't want my cousins posting family photographs online that I own and you probably wouldn't your cousins to do so either.

    • Don't post images of living people. Genealogists generally recommend not posting information on living individuals and that rule applies to photos as well.  

    Now let's get to the fun part. Websites!  I have my personal favorites. Oh— did I mention that most of these sites are FREE?

    • History Pin.  Take a tour of the world or your neighborhood in the photos on this site.  There are "sets" of images that focus on themes.  This website just won an award for the best mobile app. Try it and see.

    • 1000Memories.  Need an online place to share your photos, stories and family videos, then check out this site.  I was stunned to see the possibilities. 

    • Dear Photograph. This is a really cool idea. Take a photograph of a place today then upload it and a historical photo of the same place. The juxtaposition of the two images is a lot of fun.

    • Ancient Faces and Dead Fred.  These two reunion websites can help you reconnect with "missing" family photographs.

    Let's not forget that you can upload images to genealogical sites such as Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com.

    I'm trying to beat the winter blahs and maybe you are, too. On my personal website, I'm having a Silly Old Snapshot Contest.  Upload an image, get folks to vote on it and you might end up winning a prize package. The contest ends on February 25. 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Photo fun | photo news | unusual photos | Web sites
    Monday, January 30, 2012 2:46:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]
    # Monday, November 28, 2011
    Winter Holidays in the Family Album
    Posted by Maureen

    The holiday season has begun! It doesn't matter that stores decorated months ago. Thanksgiving is the beginning of all the winter holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. In the last week of December I'd like to run a column that features historical photos from your ancestral family album that capture the season. You can email them to me.

    They can be pictures of folks in front of their Christmas trees or family gathered around a table for a holiday meal. It can even be a snapshot of historical decorations on a Christmas tree. 

    I have a small collection of unidentified images of people that are not my ancestors. Here's one.

    holiday003edit.jpg

    This unidentified couple chose a picture of themselves tuning their new radio for their Christmas card. 

    Photo greeting cards date back to at least the 1880s. I own a New Year's card of a woman; she sent it to her friends.

    Can't wait to see what you send me!


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1930s photos | Photo fun
    Monday, November 28, 2011 7:59:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, October 31, 2011
    Trick or Treat in Your Family Album
    Posted by Maureen

    halloween.jpg

    It's Halloween and time for trick or treat.  You might have images of this holiday in your family album.  These two young girls, c. 1920 are dressed in the style popular for the period. On the right the dots on this girl's outfit suggest she's a harlequin.  On the left, her companion is in a short dress with the dots. 

    Department stores advertised that customers could purchase their costumes in the store, then return to have their picture taken in the outfit. Most major stores had a photo studio.  You can submit images of your ancestors in costume by using the "How to Submit Your Photo" tips in the left hand column.

    I've spent the last few years trying to locate images of historic costumes and information on how Halloween was celebrated in the past.  This one is from my small collection.

    I enjoy browsing the pages of Ancestry.com's Historic Catalog of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. for costumes. Pick a year and the season and start browsing or use "halloween" as a keyword.

    If you want to learn more about Halloween in a particular year, try reading the newspaper using GenealogyBank.com. In the advanced searching tab, enter "Halloween" as a word you want to include and then the date.  I suggest using a span of days, since not all papers ran holiday related items on October 31st.  Most of the advertisements are in the week before that. 

    Have fun exploring the past using the printed materials that were part of ancestral lives. It's like time traveling using your computer.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • children | holiday | Photo fun | photo postcards
    Monday, October 31, 2011 6:50:39 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, August 22, 2011
    Godfrey Update
    Posted by Maureen

    It's week three of the project to identify all the faces in Gwen Prichard's family composite.

     

    In the first installment, I introduced this lovely composite and then last week I showed an original image from which one of the tiny portraits was taken.

    This week, Gwen wrote to me with a new piece of information. Her niece did a quick search of the city directories on Fold3 (formerly Footnote.com) and found a photographer named Peter Godfrey living in Louisville, Ky., in 1866. She thinks it's her ancestor. This suggests that Godfrey created the composite after 1866 when he was living in Fulton, Mo.

    We're still trying to sort through photos for facial comparisons and then trying to compare the life dates of those individuals with their possible ages in the composite.

    I agree with Gwen that Godfrey probably photographed family members residing in Louisville before he moved, and then the Missouri Godfreys later on. There is also the possibility that family members sent him photographs of themselves for inclusion in the composite.

    This photo has a lot of angles worth exploring! According to Gwen's emails, it appears she's identified around a dozen individuals. That's great news. Photo mysteries like this take a long time to decipher. She's doing all the right things—comparing faces to photos in her collection and reaching out to relatives. She's taking it one face at time.

    Photo challenges come in all sizes from single unnamed images to large group portraits. In Gwen's case, she's got a lot of genealogical information to help her follow the pictorial trail.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1860s photos | Photo fun | unusual photos
    Monday, August 22, 2011 2:10:35 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, June 08, 2010
    Photo Detective—Online and On the Road
    Posted by Maureen

    I hope to see you this month in Boston; Burbank, Calif.; or Wellington, Kan. I'm always looking for photos to feature in this space and in the Photo Detective column of Family Tree Magazine, so I hope you'll stop by and say hello (and bring a mystery photo if you have one)!

    June 9th  New England Historic Genealogical Society, 6 pm
    This is the official kick-off for my new book, The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation (Kent State University Press). I've spent at least eight years gathering images and vignettes of veterans, their wives and some significant children who lived during the American Revolution and  lived into the age of photography.

    June 11-13th  Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree
    I'll be there in the Family Tree Magazine booth in the exhibit hall as well as giving two lectures—Hairsteria: Hair in Family Photos and Identifying and Dating Family Photographs.  I can't wait for Saturday's  live podcast hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine's podcast. Lisa invited me to talk about The Last Muster project.  

    June 18th  Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies Conference
    At this all day seminar I'll be covering identifying nineteenth and twentieth family photographs in two talks: Identifying and Dating Family Photographs and Kodak Moments and Technicolor Dreams. The rest of the day I'll be focusing on telling the family story and modern genealogical research techniques.

    NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are" has made genealogy and family photos a popular topic outside of family history world. The website Glo.com called to chat about trends in the field. I got a chance to talk about a few of my favorite things, including safely displaying family photographs and those lovely pages on Footnote. You'll find more on my conversation with Glo.com in their article and online slideshow, It's a Family Affair.

    I'll be back next week with a report from Jamboree! 

    Visit ShopFamilyTree.com for books and CDs that'll help you research, preserve and display your family photos.


    Photo fun | photo news
    Tuesday, June 08, 2010 5:42:16 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, May 03, 2010
    NGS Wrap-Up
    Posted by Maureen

    Wow. Wow. Wow. That's all I heard at last week's National Genealogical Society conference. It really was fantastic!  More than 2,700 individuals attended the four day event.  I got to meet blog fans, see Facebook friends and examine great photos. I presented lectures on 19th century picture analysis, 20th century photos in family collections and one on immigrant clues in images. 

    When I wasn't lecturing I was in the exhibit hall giving private photo consultations and looking at photo-related stuff for sale.  Here's a snapshot view of some of the items I thought you'd be interested in.

    I love these photo blocks from Echo Road. You personalize them using copies of your family photos.



    Have fun with your photos by using them in games, such as a deck of cards.  These are from the folks at Ancestry Games.



    I browsed from booth to booth looking for creative ways to express family history and found these lovely framed interpretations of a pedigree chart from Jill Means of Legacy Design.



    Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of some of the other items I saw, but definitely take a look at these websites: 
    • John E. Groberg of Geneartogy had some beautiful oversize photo trees in his booth. 
    • Stories by Me had a selection of photo blocks, games, magnets and other items that you could personalize using copies of your photos.
    • If you're looking for a way to organize and incorporate your photos into your family history, check out Photo Loom.
    Back next week with a new photo mystery! I need to rest from all the conference excitement <smile>.

    Photo fun | photo news
    Monday, May 03, 2010 9:10:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 21, 2009
    Photos with Santa
    Posted by Diane

    8d23937u santa.jpg

    A simple question from my editor, the Genealogy Insider Diane Haddad, has me scrambling for the answer. She asked, "What's the history of having your picture taken with Santa?" Whoa! These iconic kid pictures are in a lot of family albums, and judging from the lines at mall Santas, having a photo with this Christmas symbol remains popular. 

    But when did the first kid have a picture taken with Santa? It's a good question.

    Out on a gift-buying journey I found a cute little book, A Century of Christmas Memories, 1900-1999 by the editors of the Peter Pauper Press (Peter Pauper Press). In it is a picture of baseball great Babe Ruth playing Santa at a benefit in December 1947. 

    The photo featured above was taken in 1942 at Macy's Department Store in New York, and now is in the collection of the Library of Congress.  Accompanying information mentions there were two Santas, concealed from one another, so that the children wouldn't be upset. Each child got to talk with Santa and received a piece of candy.

    The tradition must be older than that. I turned to Google for help. A quick search turned up a site that mentioned that the first department store Santa was a R.H. Macy's in New York in 1870, but it didn't mention photographs.

    On the History Channel website, there's a history of many things relating to Christmas—including a short article on mall Santas. According to that piece, in 1841, a Philadelphia store featured a life-size Santa model.

    I thought a newspaper search might help. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for, but I did locate an obituary for Charles W. Howard, who was considered the "Nation's No. 1 Santa Claus." According to the obituary in the May 2, 1966, New York Times, Howard began his career as Santa when just a child, and then in 1937, he opened a school for Santas. He taught "psychology, costuming, makeup, whisker grooming, voice-modulation and ho-ho-ho-ing."

    Howard said "You've got to know the character you're playing. It's so real to me sometimes that I can feel the reindeer breathing on my cheek."

    While I don't have a definitive answer yet on Diane's question, I'm still working on it. I have some leads, but need to contact some folks in the know. They haven't returned my calls in this busy season....they must be out shopping.

    Happy Holidays!!


    children | Photo fun
    Monday, December 21, 2009 5:14:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [3]
    # Monday, November 09, 2009
    Photo Storytelling
    Posted by Maureen

    The holiday season is nearly upon us! It's a time of year I associate with food, family and friends, but it's also storytelling season. One of the traditions in my family is looking at old pictures—not just those taken a century ago, but those considered "old" by the kids in the family. You know ... their baby pictures! <smile>

    Memory is a funny thing. You can show an older relative the same picture year after year and get no new information. Then all of sudden someone else in the room starts talking about an event related to the image, and remembrances start pouring out of that older relative. It's all about finding the right memory trigger. 

    Help the process along by taking steps. This means collecting details on the images in your photo collection.
    • Start by trying to place images in a time frame based on the clues discussed in this column—photographers' work dates, family history and fashion for instance.

    • Next, organize your images into a timeline so they're grouped by generation. I guarantee this will work. If you're going to show Great Aunt Hazel an unidentified photo taken in the 1930s, it helps to have other images from the same time period. Each detail in the pictures will help her sort out the facts.

    • If you've discovered any additional information about the picture, now's the time to share it.
    Once the storytelling starts, it won't be limited to that one picture or even the group of images. You'll begin hearing about your great aunt's memories of that person, where they lived, how she knew them and what it was like to grow up during the Depression.

    If you've remembered to bring along a tape recorder, you'll be able to listen to it again. She might even share some long lost family secret!

    As for those youngsters who can't stop looking at their own childhood pictures, ask them to tell a story too.  What were they doing or feeling on the day a particular picture was taken?  What do they think about their clothing?  Can they help you write a caption for the images in the family album?  You bet! 

    Finding out the facts for each of your photos is fantastic, but it's the family storytelling that will last for generations. Photo storytelling is about using your photographs as visual treats to gaze while replaying the story of each one.


    Photo fun | photo-research tips
    Monday, November 09, 2009 5:35:27 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, September 14, 2009
    One More Time: Funny Pictures
    Posted by Maureen

    I have another album of funny pictures to share with you. This time, there's even an entry from faraway Chile. Thanks to the Web, this column has readers around the globe.

    Cook6 Jul 1913 Mt  Washington 001.jpg
    Laura Cook sent me several images of her grandmother Marie Schultheis clowning with friends in the summer of 1913. This is my favorite (above). I love the pained expression of the guy on the bottom.

    caponeLadies with dresses pulled up (2).jpg

    Barbara Capone sent in a family mystery. It was taken in Scotland County, Mo., at what she thinks was Minnie and Joseph Cook Walker's house, but she has no idea who these people are. The Walkers were her Capone's grandparents.

    PeelEarlMarionNeil (3).jpg

    Here's a fun snapshot of Faith Peel's father, aunt and uncle. She doesn't know the names of the rest of the folks.

    sebaskyunidmen275 (4).jpg

    Marlys Sebasky thought this picture and the next one looked very similar to the original posting of the card players in Fergus Falls, Minn. What do you think?

    unidmen122.jpg

    Gonzalo A. Luengo O. of Chile sent the image below. It's a postcard sent from Sestri Ponente (near Genoa, Italy) to Luengo's great-great-grandfather Antonio De Filippi Montaldo. It's a bit of a mystery. The banner reads "Premio Beneficenza, 28 febbraio 1903" which translates to "Charity Prize, February 28, 1903."  Does anyone have any information on the tradition shown? E-mail me if you do.
    GonzalesANTONIO DE FILIPPI 1.jpg


    1920s photos | 1930s photos | candid photos | group photos | Photo fun | photo postcards
    Monday, September 14, 2009 4:16:12 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, September 07, 2009
    An Album of Funny Pictures
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I asked readers to submit funny pictures. Thank you to everyone who sent images. I've been laughing all week. So here they are...fun images that leave you wondering, "What were they thinking?"

    EdminsterWill Samels Robt Shane and others.jpg
    Sue Edminster sent in this photo (above) of men with numbers on the soles of their shoes. Why?  Who knows!  The men are, bottom to top, Will Samels, Bob Shane (Edminster's grandfather) and Will Young. The photo was taken circa 1890.

    mcclenahan2kirk brothers.jpg

    Here's a card-playing group courtesy of Merna McClenathen. With her grandfather, Milton "Tom" Kirk (2nd from right), are his brothers, William McCready "Crede" Kirk (3rd from right) and Alfred "Alf" Kirk (far right). The man holding all the cards on the far left is unknown. McClenathen thinks this photo was taken circa 1890 in the Black Hills of South Dakota near Lead, SD,when the Kirk brothers were working as carpenters at the Homestake Mine.

    McClenathenGeo Alford.jpg

    Merna sent in two images. Above, you can see what a double exposure looked like taken with either the real Freako-Shutter mentioned last week, or a similar device. Your eyes aren't playing tricks. It's the same man, George P. Alford.

    PierceManFeedingDoll.jpg

    The earliest funny picture I received came from Rachel Peirce. This one (sbove) dates between Aug. 1, 1864 and Aug. 1, 1866. I know this because on the back is a tax revenue stamp. One can only wonder why this man posed feeding a doll. The doll probably has a china head and cloth body, and could be an imported model. The man is "feeding" it from the dish on the table. The photographer hand-colored the doll's dress a light pink.

    PikePoker girls.jpg

    Sharon Pike sent the most recent image in this set. It dates from c. 1900. I've seen other images from this time frame of women dressed like men in funny pictures. Here, it's Belle and Fanny Curtis. Belle was born in 1882. Their father, Asaph Curtis, owned the Hotel Rockford on Long Lake in Washburn Co., Wis.

    Come back next week, when I reveal an unusual coincidence in a reader's picture.


    1860s photos | 1890s photos | 1900-1910 photos | group photos | men | Photo fun | props in photos | women
    Monday, September 07, 2009 8:59:22 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, August 31, 2009
    Funny Ancestral Pictures
    Posted by Maureen

    Roxanne Turpin sent me a photo that made me think about the transition in photo poses. In most of the images from the 1840s, 1850s and even 1860s technology and our ancestors' discomfort with being photographed combine to make folks look like they're in pain. Then suddenly, people started to relax in front of the camera. They had fun with photography. Photo studio props and poses caught sitters in action.

    I own a picture of a man with a curious expression on his face. It's a little odd:

    men066.jpg

    Turning over the image gave me the answer. The photographer's imprint says the following: "Caricatures, (patented) Ask to see those Funny Pictures taken only at... Theo. F. Chase, Photographer."  The pose was intentional! It was taken about 1880. 

    Now let's look at Turpin's image taken around 1900 (I'm still refining the date) in Fergus Falls, Minn.

    turpin.jpg

    It depicts five men playing poker. Their cards and money are on the table. It's a friendly group of men all smoking cigars. The man in the middle moved a bit and blurred—I wish he hadn't moved so I could see his odd hat. 

    In the July 1909 issue of Photographic Topics (published by the Obrig Camera Company) is a brief news item about how amateur photographers could take funny images of their friends:
    Freako-Shutter for Funny Photographs. Fits any camera. The Freako-Shutter is a simple, amusing attachment, and everyone who used a camera should have one. It can be fitted to any camera in a few seconds, after the first adjustment. It will cause no end of amusement in making funny pictures of friends, etc. ...
    Basically, the Freako-Shutter allowed the user to shoot two exposures on the same negative. It first became available in 1903. Users could also shoot stereo images with the attachment.

    Taking "funny pictures" is still going strong today. Think about the times you put rabbit ears behind someone's head. <grin> If you have a funny ancestral photo in your family album, send it to me. I'll feature in an upcoming post.


    1880s photos | 1900-1910 photos | men | Photo fun
    Monday, August 31, 2009 5:16:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, June 22, 2009
    Photo Craft Directions
    Posted by Maureen

    Several readers wrote to me after the article Photo Crafts From Our Readers. They wanted to know how to create those lovely photo tins and bookmarks.

    Carol Norwood shared how she made her photo bookmarks:
    The bookmarks are very simple. I just make them in Microsoft Publisher. I create several long, skinny strips on a page (I find three fit nicely on an 8-1/2 x 11-inch sheet of paper). I drop in a photo and then the appropriate text regarding that person. After printing three to four on card stock, I cut the bookmarks on a paper cutter. 
    I don't know about you, but this is something I definitely want to try!

    Carolyn Natsch wrote to tell me that those lovely photo tins were sold by a company named Maya Road, but are not currently available. Both of us searched and couldn't find another supplier. She suggested looking for similar items at scrapbook and craft stores. You can also make personalized photo tins using the online photo processing site Snapfish.com.

    In fact, most of the photo processing sites now offer product lines you can personalize with family pictures. If you're planning a family reunion and want to produce a large quantity of items, check out the offerings on CafePress.com. Shirts, mugs, aprons and bags are all possibilities.

    June 26-28 I'll be at the Southern California Genealogical Society  Jamboree in Burbank. I hope you'll stop by my booth (#117) and say hello!


    Photo fun
    Monday, June 22, 2009 4:30:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, June 08, 2009
    Photo Crafts From Our Readers
    Posted by Maureen

    Several readers of this blog sent in examples of their creative endeavors that use family photos. You don't want to damage original images by using them in picture-perfect projects, but you can use copies. Here's a gallery of their projects. 



    Carolyn Natsch sent in the above picture of her memory tin.

    Norwoodbookmarks.jpg
    Carol Norwood creates these lovely photo bookmarks that include information about the person depicted.

    Van KirkWall1.jpg

    Jarrod W. Van Kirk created a pictorial family tree on a wall in his home.



    Tillie Van Sickle sent this picture her beautiful Miller Family Quilt.

    Hope you enjoy (and even get inspired by) these examples!
    Photo fun | preserving photos
    Monday, June 08, 2009 2:19:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [3]
    # Monday, June 01, 2009
    Photo Crafts From Our Ancestors
    Posted by Maureen

    So far, no one has answered my call in last week's column for pictures of creative endeavors using family photos, but I found an example of a historic photo craft attached to an email from Candace Fountoulakis. She received this photo from her maternal aunt.

    060109wATTS0001.jpg
    It's a lovely piece of needlework, but no one knows the name of the couple in the center. Candace thinks they could be from either the Watts or the Boohler side of her family from Ohio.

    This image was taken by the Grand Central Gallery of Omaha, Neb. German immigrant Herman Heyn was the owner of the studio, according to the 1883 city directory for Omaha (available on Ancestry.com). In subsequent years Heyn is at the same address until his photo business becomes James & Co., circa 1900.

    Given the style of their clothing, this picture is likely a copy of a much earlier image taken in the 1860s. The couple is dressed in everyday work attire; notice the apron worn by the woman.

    Figuring out who they are requires examining family history. Fountoulakis can see who lived in Omaha in the 1880s or 1890s, then look at the birth and death dates of their parents.

    A woman created the frame using cross stitch. Don't jump to the conclusion that this couple is necessarily on a maternal line. During the 19th century, it was customary to call your in-laws Mother and Father as well as your own parents.

    Although the identity of this couple is a mystery for now, it's no secret what happened to Heyn. He later became famous for taking pictures of Native American tribal personages during the Indian Congress of 1898.  You can view some of his stunning handcolored pictures on the Library of Congress Flickr site.


    1860s photos | Photo fun
    Monday, June 01, 2009 7:23:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, April 06, 2009
    A Blog Worth Reading
    Posted by Diane

    Just wanted to say congratulations to Maureen for making the Photo Detective blog one of Chris Dunham's 10 Genealogy Blogs Worth Reading.

    And thanks to Dunham! (He's the Genealogue's more serious alter ego.)


    Photo fun
    Monday, April 06, 2009 2:52:17 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Friday, February 27, 2009
    Wish I Were There!
    Posted by Diane

    Hope it’s OK if I butt into the blog for a second. Maureen’s on a whirlwind trip to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live family history show in London, where she’s staying with genealogy Facebook friends.

    She says hi, and she sent a picture of the group queueing up to get in. More pictures and some words to go with them next week.



    Mind the gap, please!


    Photo fun | Photos from abroad | women
    Friday, February 27, 2009 9:24:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, December 09, 2008
    Tag I'm It...Again!
    Posted by Maureen

    Gosh. Sean Sexton tagged me for another online meme and told me to blame Randy Seaver <smile>. This time I'm supposed to tell you eight random things about myself and of course tag eight others. So here goes. First, the rules.
    1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
    2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
    3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their name.
    4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.
    1. Like Sean, I'm usually reading more than one book at a time. Right now it's a James Rollins novel, Tribes by Seth Godin, and a book on training my puppy. This doesn't include the daytime reading I do to solve your picture mysteries. Can you tell I was an early reader?

    2. I have dog. These memes can get a little personal so I hope this doesn't cross over into the TMI (too much information) category. She's a lovely little Maltese.

    3. I owned my first camera at 7 and have the photographic proof to prove it. You might have caught a glimpse of me with camera in hand on my FaceBook page.

    4. My current favorite museum is the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. They have a special membership fee for folks who live a certain distance from the Big Apple so I joined. Now I wish I lived closer to the city so I could go more often.

    5. I once tried to learn Russian. Do I need to say more? 

    6. I can't remember a time when I didn't want to work with photographs. My first job out of college was as a reference assistant at a historical society and as an assistant photo curator. It was a spilt job--one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

    7. My office is organized by color. As a visual person it's a lot easier for me to locate files if I assign different colors for different types of material.  The only problem I've had is when a company discontinues a color. 

    8. My ancestry is French-Candian, English, Irish and Scottish. Some day I hope to travel to Scotland, but first I have to track down the birthplaces of those ancestors. I'm working on it.

    I'm going to tag the following people:

    Photo fun
    Tuesday, December 09, 2008 6:36:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, October 19, 2008
    Tag continued!
    Posted by Maureen

    Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society and Library Blog added two more categories to the Tag game also called a meme.  By the way, check out the international blogs that Kathyrn tagged.

    Five Places to Visit Again
    1. Italy ( I love the whole country)
    2. Sante Fe, New Mexico
    3. Jekyll Island, Georgia
    4. Bermuda (Have you caught on to the theme...sun and warmth)
    5. The Pacific Coast

    Five Places I Want to Visit for the First Time
    1. Scotland ( I want to tread where my ancestors lived!)
    2. The rest of the Fifty States I haven't been too. ( I know that's not specific)
    3. Spain
    4. Egypt
    5. Switzerland
    Actually anyplace I haven't been.  I LOVE to travel.


    Photo fun
    Sunday, October 19, 2008 3:39:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Friday, October 17, 2008
    Tag I'm It! An Online Game
    Posted by Maureen

    Diane Haddad of Family Tree Magazine's Genealogy Insider blog tagged me and this blog in a game of Internet tag.  So here goes...

    10 Years Ago I..
    1. Left full-time employment and benefits like vacation time to freelance and focus on photos.
    2. Coordinated a website project Boston Family History
    3. Had two young children
    4. Wrote my first trade paperback book, Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors, a guide to family history for kids.
    5. Didn't have time for anything else <grin>

    Five Things on Today's To-Do List
    1. Try to catch up on e-mail
    2. Write this column
    3. Attend my son's soccer game
    4. Work on some client reports
    5. Wrap up work to take the weekend off

    Five Snacks I Enjoy
    1. Newman O's (the wheat free/dairy free kind)
    2. Pamela's dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies
    3. Raspberry Sorbet (Haagan Dazs)
    4. Tostitos
    5. Green and Blacks 85% Dark Chocolate

    Five Places I've Lived
    1. Bristol, Rhode Island
    2. Providence, Rhode Island
    3. Boston area, Massachusetts (twice)
    4. That's all!

    Five Jobs I've Had
    1. clerk in a hardware store
    2. Photo Curator
    3. Reference Librarian
    4. Picture Researcher
    5. The Photo Detective <grin>

    Five Blogs I Tag (This is a hard question there are so many I like to read)
    1. Dead Fred (of course)
    2. California Genealogical Society and Library Blog ( I love Wordless Wednesday's)
    3. The Genealogue
    4. The 24/7 Family History Circle
    5. The Practical Archivist


    Photo fun
    Friday, October 17, 2008 9:10:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]