Identifying Family Photographs

This course is for you if you have mystery family photographs or would like to know more about your pictures. Did you know that photo albums tell a story? That’s one of the topics covered in this course.

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When you hold a family photograph, you stare at the faces and they look back. It’s a bonding moment that crosses time. Maybe you share their nose or their cowlick, but you’re in a predicament.

No one told you who they are. There is no caption on the back or if there is one, you don’t know if it’s right. You think, “I don’t need this photo.”

Hold it right there.

That picture might reveal something about your family that you didn’t know. Tossing it could be a family history loss. Stop and think about what you might be losing. Make a decision to save that picture.

Discover the Story

You can discover the story behind that picture. Believe me. It’s true.

Maybe you don’t know how that’s possible, but through my time-tested methods you can connect the dots of picture clues and family history too. I’ve researched thousands of pictures for clients and each one reveals a piece of someone’s family history and I can teach you how to do the same thing.

Perhaps you’re thinking why bother?

The fact is you never know what a photo is saying until you study the clues and your family history. I’ve seen it happen time and again. That moment when a client gasps and says, “I didn’t know that.” You can fill in the word that will almost anything…military service, employment mysteries, a marriage, children you couldn’t find in a census.A photo has the power to reveal history long-forgotten. Your history. It’s easy to think of our ancestors in terms of a single moment captured by a picture, but their lives were so much more. All it takes is a little more digging into the story behind those photos to teach you something you didn’t know.

What you uncover could reveal a great- grandfather’s long forgotten heroics, a grandmother’s childhood employment or something your parents never had time to tell you.

Find the Story

That’s where my Identifying Family Photographs course comes in. This nine installment course breaks down the photo identification process into short lessons so you can follow-along as you work with a picture at a time. The clues in the picture will lead the way.You’ll learn how to spot historic photo formats, research photographer’s work dates, pinpoint fashion details and more.

That’s not all. I’ll show you how to develop a research plan and follow through.

The course explains the how-to and includes some downloadable extras. If you have a question, it’s easy to send me a message in the course.

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About Maureen

I love photos! That’s no secret. I’ve spent my career looking at pictures and studying their details. Never met a picture I didn’t love. They are all special in their own way.I’ve been recognized for my expertise by the New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal, who claimed I was the “nation’s foremost historical photo detective.”

For 17 years I’ve written a blog for Family Tree Magazine on photo mysteries. That’s one a week for a total of close to 900 images not counting the columns in the print magazine, those written for American Spirit (the DAR magazine),, and others.

I’ve written or contributed to more than 30 books (I think). When I tell you that photographs are my passion, I have the proof.

What You’ll Learn

Lesson 1: The 5 Building Blocks

Explores the basic questions you need to address when researching a photograph.

Lesson 2: Creating A Research Plan

It’s always good to have a research plan so that you can check off to-do boxes. This lesson shows you how.

Lesson 3: What Type of Picture Is It?

Not sure what type of images are in your collection. No problem. Watch this video to learn more about picture formats.

Lesson 4: Who’s the photographer?

Our ancestors took snapshots, but before that they visited photo studios. Learning when a studio was in business can help you determine a time frame for the image. I’ll show you how.

Lesson 5 & 6: What are they wearing?

Fashion history is complicated but a lot of fun. You’ll learn about hats, hairstyles and what was fashionable when and why.

Lesson 7: Quick Tips

There are photo identification shortcuts. In this lesson I explain the two most popular–tax stamps and stamp boxes.

Lesson 8: How to Add Up the Clues

Once you’ve watched the other lessons, it’s time to look at all the information you’ve accumulated and see if the facts add up to determine who’s in the photo.

Lesson 9: Labeling Pictures

All it takes to save all your hard work is a few photo safe tools and techniques. I explain how to label your pictures so that the next generation will know who’s in the photos.


Identifying Family Photos Resource Guide

16 pages of supportive material on understanding provenance, researching photographers, and reading clothing clues. An additional section on Immigrant Clues provides tips and resources to help you understand those images whether taken in the United States or overseas.

Identifying Family Photos Workbook

This workbook leads you through the course lesson by lesson using prompts and questions to reinforce the methodology taught in the videos. You can use this workbook as an analysis tool for your family photographs.

Don’t forget if you have questions about the material you can contact me using the built-in messaging functionality.

I was recently in a chat room and read a post asking who to contact to get professional information on preserving a recently discovered family photo album. I typed “Maureen Taylor.” I didn’t have to ponder that question.

I would have given the same answer if asked who to contact for books on preserving photos, or photo sleuthing, or the history of photos or basically anything regarding keeping these precious images safe and secure.

I love easy questions.

The details that you were able to give me just by looking at a photo of someone you’d never met was truly amazing. I didn’t feel rushed and I really felt like all my questions were answered. I’d recommend your service to anyone that has an old picture that they have questions about.

I have been listening to Genealogy podcast for the past few years. I regularly search for family history or genealogy to find new ones. I think your info is the best out there.

Online Course

  • 9 Lessons
  • Workbook
  • Private Facebook group for students
  • Email Support

$129.00 $99.00Add to cart

Become Your Family Photo Detective

  • Everything in Online Course, plus:
  • Interactive Workbook for 1 Photo
  • Work one-on-one with Maureen as you take the course
  • Take quizzes and receive feedback from Maureen on your research
  • Family Photo Detective

$199.00Add to cart


Is this a “live” course, or can I go through it on my own schedule?

This is a self-directed video course, so you can watch it when you have time. There is no time limit on when you can view the videos — now or in a few months.

Can I do this course on mobile?

Absolutely! You can log into your account on from any device.

What equipment do I need to do this class?

No special equipment is required to view the class. There is a downloadable shopping list for supplies so that you can work with your pictures as you go. Don’t forget to download the workbook and the Resource ebook.

Will I be able to ask you questions?

In each module there is a “contact the teacher” button. Click that to send me a question. I personally respond to your queries.

Does this course cover international images?

The lessons include general information that can help you identify photographs overseas as well. A special download on Immigrant Images is part of the free content with this course.

Are you available to look at my photos?

I’d love to help! You can access my consult page here. The fee for up to three photos is $65. If you have more than three, please ask about volume pricing. I love working with clients on their photo mysteries.