Now I did not want to title my blog
How To Date Old Photographs
Because there are dozens of articles with that title; A recent article at
http://www.onegreatfamily.com/Home.aspx?PID=10000&CID=102&HID=221 (see article below)
does a very good job at introducing the idea but I think there can be some tips added to the article.
Chula Vista Genealogical Society President Gary Brock advices when obtaining a very large box of mixed photos, first make piles of like-photos.
Photos with the same Portrait Studio name, City, etc.
Photos enclosed in cardboard folders with the name of the studio possibly printed on the folder.
Prints with the same edging, some of the 30s-50s photos have scalloped edges.
Group like-scalloping with like- scalloping.
Weight and color of photo. Not only dating the photo as explained in the article. But sorting like-paper weight/color, can help you sort part of the country, family members etc.
Look for Commercial names on objects. I have a photo of a cowboy in one of those long overcoats, cowboy hat, boots and spurs, I am trying to identify who he is. There is a horse drawn wagon in the photo. The wagon has a commercial name painted along the side of the wagon. My plan is to look up that commercial name, find out what years, location, type of business was conducted with their wagons. With this data I will try to narrow my research to families leaving in the area during the time of that commercial companies business.
The cowboy photo was found along with photos from the Reed/Chapin lineage. A baby picture of John Paul Reed was amongst the photos.
Article from onegreatfamily
How To Date Old Family Photographs
Basic Techniques Of Dating Pictures
Great-Grandma's family collection of antique pictures can be a treasure trove for you, the genealogy researcher, especially if you can establish when an antique picture was taken.
Dating a photograph can help you identify the subject(s) (in early photography the subjects were referred to as sitters) and can provide additional information as you piece together your family tree.
There are some basic techniques to begin the process of dating an antique picture:
What is the print made of? Is the image printed on metal, glass, card stock, or paper? Daguerreotype (early tintypes) and ambrotypes (printed on glass) were often mounted in double wooden frames that opened like a book. These were the most common types of early photographs and date back to around 1839. By 1870, almost all antique pictures were printed on heavy paper or card stock. The heavier stock was much more common in early photographs; by the 1930s even studio portraits were printed on thin paper.
Is the antique picture printed in black and white or color? Some images were being hand-tinted as early as the 1850s. Although color still photography was introduced in 1906, it was an expensive process that only professionals could afford to use. Color antique pictures did not become common for home use until the late 1950's and early 1960's.
How are the people in the photograph posed? Very early antique pictures showed people in rigid poses and usually without smiles, partly because exposure times could be as long as twenty seconds. Many portrait photographers even used braces to help sitters stay in position during the process. Candid pictures and then snapshots became more common in the 1920s.
How are the sitters dressed? The straight tunic dresses and bobbed hair of the 1920's are easy to distinguish from the cinched waists and luxuriant chignons of the late 1890's.
What other objects are visible in the antique picture? A Model T car is absolute proof that the picture was not taken before 1908. Furniture, toys, brands names, logos - all these things can provide clues, and thus, invaluable assistance in identifying previously unidentified photographs.
Additional information on dating family antique pictures is available from a list of links.
Tracing a family resemblance through the generations with antique pictures can give you a warm sense of connection to your family's past.
Store your pictures and other media on line- it's a safe place to keep your treasures