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Analyzing Family Photos

At the Jan. 4 Genealogy Networking Group, we brought family photos which we analyzed, using some of the tricks and techniques we’d learned from Tina Beaird at our December holiday party at Maggiano’s. (Thanks again to Adrian for organizing such a wonderful dinner!)


SCAN1244The first picture was one of two young men that Ellen had been sure were Edward and Lawrence Dailey at their college graduation in 1906. The first picture she had was a copy of the original and left out the photographer’s mark which indicated that the picture was taken at a studio in England and it also didn’t have the back of the picture which told us that it was the sons of Mrs. Urwin.  Ellen is still in mourning that it wasn’t the Dailey brothers in that picture since she has no pictures of her 3rd great grandfather as an adult!


Kathy brought in a picture of two young girls, one of whom was sitting on a horse. We looked at the clothing and the things growing and guessed it was probably taken in the fall. We guessed that because the girls had similar haircuts that they might be related, sisters perhaps. They were, in fact, Kathy’s mother and aunt and the picture had been taken in a more rural Lake Forest.SCAN1250


SCAN1248Kathy also brought a picture of a baby in a rather elaborate buggy. From the look of the houses in the area, we determined that it probably wasn’t taken in the US and that the weather was mild.




Julie brought a colorized picture of a young couple. We guessed from the style of the dress that it was a wedding portrait and probably taken in the 1910s. We also noticed that the man was sitting in an elaborate chair and the woman was standing next to him, seeming to be touching the back of his head. (This was Julie’s grandparents’ wedding portrait taken in 1906.)SCAN1253







Donna brought a picture of a woman holding a baby. From the style of her clothes, shoes and hair, we guessed that the picture was taken in the 1940s. We also guessed that the baby was probably about 18 months old. We were way off on this one! The picture was of Donna as a 5- month-old baby, taken in about 1951, and her Aunt Estells was holding her.SCAN1246







Diane P. brought a snapshot of a group of people eating outside. We guessed from the clothing and the flowers in the yard, that it had been taken in the summer or early fall. From the dinner wear (Corelle), the flowered table cloth and the sturdy webbed lawn chairs, we guessed that the picture had been taken in the 1970s. We guessed that it was an anniversary celebration of the older couple in the picture. In fact, this was a picture of Diane’s Dad and his sister Chris and it had been taken in Mt. Prospect in 1973 in Diane’s back yard. It was a random Sunday afternoon, not any sort of specific celebration despite the fact that everyone is dressed up.SCAN1255

Arlene brought a picture of a nicely dressed young man taken in a studio. From the style of his shirt featuring a high button collar, we guessed that it might have been taken in the early 1900s. We guessed that he didn’t work outdoors because he had no obvious farmer’s tan. All Arlene knows about this picture is that it is her 2nd great uncle John Szponar who lived in Poland.SCAN1247


It was great fun looking at everyone’s pictures and anaylzing their details. Pictures can tell us so much about our ancestors and how they lived, especially if we know how to understand the details of their photos. (A HUGE thanks to Arlene for taking such detailed notes!)

Categories: Genealogy

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