In a perfect genealogy world every photograph you inherited would be labeled with the date, location, and the names of its subjects. They would be archived in protective coverings and there would be hardly any wear, tear, or damage. There would be so much information that it would be easy to track down your ancestors personal histories, records, and stories. Wouldn’t that just be perfect!? Those of us who love genealogy can dream right!?
The sad truth is that most passed down photographs contain little info, if any, and are usually damaged as well. Restore.tv can definitely help with damage control and restore photographs back to their original glory, but we thought we might also be able to offer some tips on how to find more information re: your genealogical find!
In this article we will be going over ways that can help determine how old your photograph is. Once you are armed with that information other puzzle pieces will be able to fall in place!
It’s All in the Details!
Take a close look at the photograph, now take even a closer look! The details within can tell you when it was taken. Below are the most reliable and useful time markers we take into account when trying to date a photograph.
First Look at the Photographic Technique
The first photograph was successfully taken in 1820 and as time passed many techniques were used over the years to quicken the production and better the quality of creating an image. Here are some of the most used photographic techniques that were popular in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Now Let’s Look at Women’s Fashion
One of the easiest ways to date a photograph is to look at how the ladies are styled! Although men and children styles also changed through out the 19th and 20th centuries, women’s fashions made the most dramatic changes during each decade. Also look at the coloring of the dresses which may determine what season the photograph was taken. Darker fabrics were traditionally worn more in the winter months and lighter colors in the summer.
Finally Take in the Surroundings
Besides the people photographed what else is in the background. Look for historical landmarks, automobiles, technology, etc. If a couple is seated on a lawn and a building is behind them try searching for the building, i.e. if it was built in 1920 that gives you a pretty secure timeline to start at. If the photo has an inscription on the back “Dad’s new car!” find a auto magazine online to identify the make, model and year. Also look at furniture, work equipment, and architecture design. Get out a magnifying glass and check to see if there’s printed material, a book or a newspaper title can help date things as well.
Combining these clues can help you narrow down dates and locations. Cross-reference this information with any family history you have on hand and you are on your way to getting the complete picture! One of the funnest things about genealogy, finding old records and coming upon family photographs is solving the mystery! So have fun and good luck!
Restore.tv truly believes that our photographic histories are so important in continuing each families story. If you would like more information on photo restorations, creating a picture story, and preserving your families memories click here or give us a call!