Episode 104: Clues in Group Portraits and Photo Albums

 I’ve been delving into my family history a little more than usual and perhaps you are too. I’m also taking another look at my pictures.  Examining them more closely and trying to tell the story of them. Even I have a photo mystery, one that’s bothered me for years.  I’ve managed to tease out a few new identifications but the problem persists.  It could be a group of friends mixed with some of my family .  The issue is the number of images in my family collection.  I don’t own many images of this side of my family and neither do my relatives.  Comparing images to each other could result in an identification. 

I believe that persistence will pay off.  I’ll be using crowdsourcing as well. If someone can identify the place where this group of men and boys posed it might help. 

A long time ago I dated that image. That’s the first step in any photo mystery. I’ve named a few folks but who are the rest?  I know that you know this dilemma: big group portraits are a mystery for many people. 

I’ve developed techniques to help you figure out who’s who.  These images are perfect for a single photo consult. See the show notes for the link.

A New Workshop

In a few weeks, I’ll be announcing a special class. It’s an interactive live workshop on Reading Clues in Photo Albums.  I LOVE working on photo albums telling the family story visible in those pages and teaching you how to do it too. This small class is for those with photo albums who want to know more.  It’s either going to be a long workshop or a series of classes where we can talk about your albums and find out more about them.  It will be limited to 25. 

With albums, it’s all about that first photo. Who is it? Why are they there?   My signature five approach of who, what, where, when and why applied to albums often reveals hidden relationships of family and friends of your ancestors.  I hope you’ll be able to join me. Can’t wait to see who and what are in your albums.   Everyone is unique. Sure there are similarities with format and size, but the contents are special to your family.  Someone put those pages together with intent and purpose.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny tintype album or an oversize black paper one or even one of those toxic magnetic ones, each and every one tells a story and I’d love to help you reveal it. Your family will love you for it.  Stay tuned.  Subscribers to my newsletter will get the first chance to sign up. If you’re not on my list, you can sign up on my website. 

What will I do in 2021?  I’m planning a series of webinars and workshops to deepen your understanding of photographs.  Wait and see!  

New Things on Social 

I’ll be wrapping up my around the world in 80 photos social media campaign. Hope you’ve been watching on Facebook and Instagram.  I thought it was timely for this year. We really aren’t traveling, but our photographs can take us around the world. Thank you for sharing related images with me too. 

On social I’m considering posting a lot of unnamed photos and seeing if anyone recognizes the places in them. I’m taking my cues from the Library Of Congress.  They pick images from their collection and let us all weigh in on the mysteries. Some require research while others need particular time period knowledge. Obviously, I’m a fan. 

Houses and Photos

By now you’ve listened to the podcast featuring Carrie Taylor of the Lippitt House talk about how a photo provided clues to decorating the historic house with authentic drapes. Do you know someone who’s used a photograph to help them understand their neighborhood, decorate their house or who knows. I’d love to talk with them.  

 Do you love old houses? I live in one built in 1896. I’d love to find a few pictures of the inside when it was first built.  Nothing yet, but I’m still looking.  Have you connected genealogy and house history? It’s the best way to locate images of historic houses.  The descendants of the original residents may have some.  We’re only the fifth owner of this house.  Time to start looking! 

 You might love a show on television. I’m a big fan of the HGTV show Home Town with Ben and Erin Napier.  What’s not to love?! Their new season starts soon according to their show notes Viewers can anticipate a whole new collection of hour-long episodes, each detailing one of the couple’s distinctive and design-centric renovations of a vintage or historic home in the town of Laurel, Mississippi — and always with their astute and respectful consideration of the home’s history and community context. 

Podcast to Tune In

As this podcast episode is a collection of random thoughts… here’s a podcast to check out.  Thelastarchive.com.   Historian Jill Lepore traces the history of evidence, proof, and knowledge, in troubled times. From archives and libraries to interrogation rooms and evidence vaults, Lepore takes listeners around the country–and across the passage of time–in search of an answer to the question: Who killed truth? actors from the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge present the stories in the format of a 1930s radio drama.

Related Episodes:

Episode 102: Recreate Victorian Decor with Photo Clues


About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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