Trouble in a Tintype Album: Reading the Clues

It’s no secret that I love working on photo mysteries for clients. My favorite type of photo puzzler is reading the clues in family photo albums. Why?   Well, each one tells a story. Every album reveals details about who put the images in those places, as long as the past hasn’t been tampered with.   That’s the key. Those images have to be in their original order In February 2016, the International Center of Photography posted ... Continue Reading

Who Are These Women in Uniform?

Orphaned mystery photos. There is something so sad about someone's beloved pictures ending up in a pile someplace.  Take these five pictures.  I'm willing to bet that these images documented an important period in a woman's life. She took these images of her friends and colleagues in uniform. The questions add up pretty quickly. Who were they? What branch of the service do their uniforms represent? Where were they photographed? When were they taken? I ... Continue Reading

Two Small Clues In an Old School Photo

Someone took a snapshot of these two women in an unknown setting.  This one picture is part of a set of six images.  Only this one has a recognizable background. They sit on granite stairs engraved with "Class of 1910." The wooden landing has a fluted column in the background and a sandstone pillar decorated with a brass plaque. Unfortunately the plaque is unreadable due to the quality of the picture. Their clothing, hair and ... Continue Reading

Mabel and Edith Bickerton

There is so much to love about this picture. The wallpaper. Their dresses.  Photos often have details that attract our attention but this one has something special. Someone wrote names and date on it!  It's a lost family photo. I'm hoping to reunite it with descendants. Mabel and Edith Bickerton, 1889.  A quick look on gave me the particulars of their lives. They were the children of Charles Bickerton and Louisa Maria Cole.  The ... Continue Reading

Making a Match: 6 Tips for Identifying a Face to Make Filing Easier

It’s a rare person that doesn’t own at least one mystery picture and wonders who’s in the photo. When you’re trying to organize your pictures these unknown images are a fly in the ointment. Resist the desire to toss them, by using these tips you might be able to get closer to an answer. Who Do You Look Like? A friend of mine bears an uncanny resemblance to his five other brothers and sisters. They all ... Continue Reading

Wonky Whiskers Contest

Just in time for Father's Day, share your favorite old face-fuzz photo of a grandfather, great-grandfather, or even great-great grandfather. Contest runs from June 6th to June 16th (ends at 11:59 pm EST). So Hurry!! To enter, post your candidate photo to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the following hashtag: #GFMUST16@photodetective The best mustache wins this package: A $50.00 gift card to The Art of Shaving A copy of Hairstyles 1840-1900 (worth $25.00) by Maureen ... Continue Reading

Stop. Look. Listen to Your Family Photos

Stop for a moment and take a look at your boxes and albums of pictures. There is a good chance that at least some of them have writing on the back or in the case of an album, underneath the image. Can you trust that information? Maybe. It depends on who wrote it. Photo captions and oral history are like the game of telephone. At the time the picture was taken someone knew who was ... Continue Reading

Essential Photo Organizing: Down and Dirty Photo Triage in Three Steps

So great aunt Mabel has finally decided that you’re the one. The person meant to care for family heirlooms including all those photos she’s been safe-keeping for the right descendant. You’re happy to have those boxes of pictures but at the same you feel like the figure in Edward Munch’s painting The Scream because of the sheer number of items she’s giving you and time constraints. Grabbing your head isn’t going to help. Edward Munch's  The Scream Neither will listening to your ... Continue Reading

The life-changing magic of tidying up is wrong! (And What you should do instead.)

I recently met this woman who enthusiastically explained how she decluttered her house using the advice offered in Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Sounded great. Sort by category. Feel the joy or discard the rest. She was fired up about how tidy her house looked and how she felt without the mess. Until she go to the part where she had to deal with her family photos. Not just the ones she'd ... Continue Reading

#TreeChallenge Find My Past extends free records until May 31st

Hope you've tried the hints at You can search all 1.8 billion records for free until Midnight May 31st. All you have to do is upload a Gedcom of your family data and let their search engines find hints. How many hints popped up for my family? A lot. I LOVE these hints. My family history research got a lot easier. Every time you share what you've found on social media with the hashtag ... Continue Reading

Pin It on Pinterest