Find Family History Hidden in Your Photos

Discovering Family History Hidden in Photographs

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We often look at people in a photograph, but miss the small details that tell us something about that person.  

The photograph below is of Harriet Elliott Richardson and her granddaughter Elma Talbott. [This is the same Harriett (Hattie) Richardson seen in last week’s photo, too.]

Look closely at the photograph below. What details about Harriett can be learned?

Find Family History Hidden in Your Photos

It turns out that Harriet Elliott Richardson (Hattie), mother of Esther Richardson Talbott was left handed, too.

Notice Hattie is holding the bowl of chicken feed in her right hand and feeding the chickens with her left.

Here is another photograph of Harriett.

What do you notice?

Hattie is holding a young child in her right arm and a walking stick in her left hand. Typically women carry a child in their non-dominant arm. This leaves their dominant arm free to perform needed tasks.  For example, if you are right handed, you likely carry your child on your left hip supported by your left arm.  That leaves your right hand free to answer the phone, prepare the child’s snack, check your e-mail…..  Because of this often our non-dominant arm is a little stronger.

In the photo above, Hattie is leaving her left hand free to use the walking stick as she walks across a rocky patch of ground.

Pull your photographs back out. Grab your magnifying glass (like this one!).  Look closely.  What new family history details do you learn about your ancestors? 

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Find Family History Hidden in Your Photos


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  • Becky Ireland

    I hate to tell you this, but I am right handed, yet always held anything important (including my babes) in my right hand or arm. I was a mail carrier and held the bundles of mail with my right hand, delivering with my left. Anything I deemed precious I always held with my right because my grip was firmest and my right side strongest. I could do other activities with my left hand because I am slightly ambidextrous. When I cased my mail, I held it in my left hand and cased it with my right, because if I dropped mail in the post office it was easily retrieved—not so out in the wind and the rain!

    • LisaL

      Thanks, Becky! I’ll have to re-think my theory! In Hattie’s case, it turns out she was left handed. I received confirmation from family members after I wrote the post.

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