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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, September 24, 2007
What a Photo Can Tell You About Your Ancestor
Posted by Maureen

This week I started making a list of all the things you can tell about a person from their portrait. I'd like you to add to my list my using the comment section. If you have an example to illustrate your point upload it to the Photo Detective Forum.

Here's what I have so far:

1) Occupation
If your ancestor wore distinctive clothing or posed in the workplace then you might be able to tell how they made their living.

2) Medical Conditions
Gnarled arthritic hands, thyroid conditions, eye diseases and more are all visible in a family photo.

3) Military Service
Anyone posed in a military uniform is obvious, but check lapels for veteran's pins.

4) Weddings
Watch for white hats and veils that signify a matrimonial event, but remember that not all brides wore white and not all white dresses are wedding gowns.

5) Education
Did your ancestor chose to pose with a book? Perhaps it's not just a prop, but a symbol of their ability to read.

6) Religion
A Bible or other religious symbol in a photo indicates your ancestor's faith.

Don't forget to add your clues. Got a question? Post it to the Photo Detective Forum.


photo-research tips
Monday, September 24, 2007 12:10:22 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
Wednesday, September 26, 2007 4:35:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'd add socioeconomic status, based on attire and the surroundings. Of course it's not failsafe, but you can get a general idea, particularly in candid shots.
Diane
Thursday, September 27, 2007 7:19:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
8. Social, religious or other Affiliations

Visible motifs on jewellery or regalia may indicate religious beliefs or membership in a fraternal or sororal association, or someone might be seen wearing a labour union ribbon or even a political party or suffragette badge.

9. Absent or dead family members

Someone shown holding a photograph of a person may be missing or mourning that person.
Monday, November 05, 2007 3:13:53 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Thank you for the excellent additions to my brief list!
Sunday, November 25, 2007 11:07:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Having any motor vehicles in the background can give some idea when the picture was taken.
Comments are closed.