Genealogy and unidentified photographs seem to go hand in hand! (But they don’t have to!)
The photographs in this post came to me in a box originally marked “Richardson”. Unfortunately, none of the photographs are labeled. (I’m sure your ancestors labeled all of their photographs, right?!)
I do strongly suspect the men are from my Richardson family of Pittsylvania County, VA. There is a certain family “look” I have come to recognize in known Richardson family photos. However, there is the distinct possibility some of these men were just friends of the family. Just because the photos were in the Richardson box does not a guarantee all of these men were Richardsons. Don’t trust you ancestor or relative’s organizational skills!
How do I identify my unknown photographs?
There are a number of ways to start identifying unidentified family photographs. The process is not quick, but can be very rewarding!
1. Ask your family members.
I realize this is an obvious answer, but you would be surprised by the number of people who have not done this. Do not just ask your close family members. Seek out more distant relatives. Share your photograph(s) with them and ask them to forward the photograph(s) to other family members they know. The more eyes you have on your unidentified photographs the better!
The photograph below is a good example of this concept. It sat for years in my unknown collection. Recently I consulted a Richardson researcher about a different photograph. He glimpsed this photograph and identified the couple as his grandparents Matthew and Edna (Richardson) Yeaman. This Richardson researcher is from Alaska and is my third cousin twice removed. Quite distant in both location and family relationships, but he had the answers I needed.
The photograph below will be emailed to multiple family members. Many are distant cousins only known to me through collateral genealogy research and my hope is one of them will be able to identify this gentleman or lead me to someone else who might. Just as you would network in the business world, we are networking in the genealogy world.
2. Share Your Unidentified Photographs on Social Media
Share your unidentified photographs in pertinent Facebook groups such as family pages, genealogical societies, or pages dedicated to specific counties.
Examples of Facebook groups for my Richardson photographs include Pittsylvania County Genealogy, Virginia Genealogy, North Carolina Genealogy, U.S South Genealogy Research Community, and Halifax County, VA Genealogy and History.
Create a Pinterest board for your unknown photographs. In the description for each pin, include keywords such as location (i.e. Pittsylvania County, VA) or a possible surname (i.e. Richardson). Pinterest is used more and more as a search engine. By using the keywords of location and surname (if possible) you increase the chances of your pins and boards being seen.
3. Websites Dedicated to Unidentified Photographs
DeadFred.com, Ancestors Lost and Found and Family Old Photos are popular sites. You can upload your own unidentified photographs for help in identifying or you can search what others have posted. Search by surname, location or by the photographer’s name. You just might find ancestors’ photographs you recognize.
4. Perform a Google Image Search.
Upload your unidentified photograph into Google’s Image search and see if the photograph appears anywhere else on the web. Perhaps the photograph is identified on someone else’s genealogy website/blog. Someone else could be searching as well!
Do you have an unknown photograph you are struggling to identify?
Create a plan just as you would for a traditional genealogy research question.
Be sure to watch the FREE webinar Identify Your Ancestor in That Photograph (Case Studies) on the webinar page for more helpful information or take a look at my new e-book Identify Your Ancestor in That Photograph.
***** If you recognize anyone in these photographs, please leave a comment! It is always my hope to get all unknown photographs identified.