Genealogy and unidentified photographs seem to go hand in hand!
(But they don’t have to!)
The photographs in this post arrived 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!
So, how about you?
Do you have unknown photographs in your closet? Still wondering just who is in that family photograph?
How do you 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.
Remember: The more eyes you have on your unidentified photographs the better!
The photograph below is a good example of this concept. This couple sat for years in my unknown collection. I was consulting a Richardson researcher about a different photograph when my break came. He glimpsed this photograph and identified the couple as his grandparents Matthew and Edna (Richardson) Yeaman. This Richardson researcher was from Alaska and is my third cousin twice removed.
Remember: No relative is too far in distance or location on the family tree not to potentially have information on your photographs.
The photograph below was emailed to multiple family members. Many were 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, network in the genealogy world.
2. Share Your Unidentified Photographs on Social Media
Share your unidentified photographs in pertinent Facebook groups such as family groups, 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
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?
Work through these 4 tips above. Share your findings in the comments below!
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.
You might be also be interested in:
- Top 10 Resources for Dating Old Photographs
- Case Study: 5 Tips to Identify A Family Photograph
- Tuesday’s Tip – How to Label a Photograph