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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, 28 August 2016
School Days in Old Photos
Posted by Diane

September means schools are in session for another year of reading, writing and arithmetic. Today's students learn a lot more than the basic three subjects. Topics taught and student life bear little resemblance to your ancestor's school year.

It's a good thing many families documented school days in pictures. We can compare the pictures of the past with those taken today. There are similarities, of course: A little kid going off to his very first day of grade school has always been a milestone moment.

You'll find class portraits. Your great-grandfather might sit in the crowd with an x above his head to identify him, leaving you wondering about the names of other students. Those photographs tell the story of your ancestor's education.

Turns out mystery school pictures aren't that unusual. Here's an assortment of past Photo Detective blog posts featuring students and teachers:



This group of mystery pics still lacks identification. The College Girls in an Old Mystery Photo sit on a step engraved with "Class of 1910." Anyone recognize the location?

If you find a picture of a relative posed holding a rolled up document, it might be proof of graduation. Find a list of what to look for to identify graduates in family pictures in Finding Your Ancestors Graduation Photos.



The post A Yard-Long Old Photo Brick Wall depicts students at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. It was found in a reader's grandfather's collection. He didn't attend Hendrix, so why did he own the picture?




Did your ancestor attend a technical school during World War II?  I'd love to learn more about these schools from folks who participated in them. You can learn more in the post World War II Victory Corps.




Fall and Back to School features one of my favorite photos from my own collection. Without the caption, you'd think the young girl posed with her mother, not her teacher.




British Schoolboy Uniforms Or The Bluecoats are Coming shares a mystery still waiting to be solved. British school uniforms are very specific, but so far no one has come forward to name the location or the school in this picture. Can you help?


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


  • group photos | school photos | students
    Sunday, 28 August 2016 15:06:46 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, 14 September 2014
    World War II Victory Corps
    Posted by Maureen

    When I was looking for images of students for this space, I stumbled across a World War II program called the Victory Corps. Have you heard of it?



    My Dad and several of my uncles were WWII veterans, but no one ever mentioned this school-based program. This image from the Library of Congress shows a teacher at Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles supervising a student using a lathe in September/October 1942.

    Photographer Alfred T. Palmer took this picture for the Farm Security Administration. If you want to see the collection, go to the Library of Congress collection using this link.  

    John W. Studebaker, the US Commissioner of Education, established the program Sept. 25, 1942. The goal was to train students in key areas relevant to the war effort, such as physical fitness, mathematics and science. As seen here, school also taught students how to operate machinery.

    It's possible that someone in your family participated in the Victory Corps.  If it's not too late, ask them about what they did during World War II. Wartime contributions included a lot more than military service. Kids collected scrap metal and women tended Victory Gardens, and it appears high school students learned new skills to support the war.

    Today the National World War II Museum in New Orleans offers a Victory Corps program for kids who volunteer at the museum. They learn more about that era of history, get to handle real artifacts and pass their knowledge on to visitors. Sounds like fun!

    If you have pictures and stories relating to the WWII Victory Corps, please submit them and I'll run a second installment.


    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
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1940s photos | students | World War II
    Sunday, 14 September 2014 16:15:32 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]