Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thursday's Tip


Family photos are a treasured part of family history. Analyzing and looking for clues in photos to identify ancestors in the photos has been a hobby that I enjoy studying and learning about. Looking at photos of people, kin folks or any kind of photo is interesting.

New found cousins and cousins that I have reconnected with have shared family photos with me. There were very few family photos of my parents, grandparents and their families. I am fortunate to have this photo of Uncle Johnny and Aunt Dollie Edwards. A cousin who I recently connected with through this blog sent it to me.

You may have photos that you can’t identify the people. There are ways to identify and date old photos. By looking at some clues or identifiers in the photo you may be successful in your quest.

The setting for the photo may give you clues to the location and time the photo was taken. Look at the clothing they are wearing. What was the occasion or event? Was it a wedding, funeral, reunion, or family photo? Look at details in the photo. Is the photographer’s name on the photo? If so, research the photographer and get all the information you can find for him. That information may help in identifying the people in the photo and the location.

Also, look at the props used in the photo, the jewelry, the hair styles, and the background. Using these resources, you may possibly identify the people in the photos.

The photo that I am sharing was given to me by a new-found Edwards cousin who lives in Alabama. In the photo is my biological grandfather John Houston Edwards and his wife Dollie Ophelia Lee Edwards, oldest sister of my grandmother Alice Lee Eley. The Edwards lived in Alabama.

I don’t know the details of when or where this photo was taken; however, I am guessing this photo was taken on a Sunday afternoon after church. They were dressed nicely. Uncle Johnny had on his nice khaki pants and shirt. From what I remember Uncle Johnny was a farmer, and Aunt Dollie was a midwife. A farmer wouldn’t wear this attire to work on the farm. They were taking a well-deserved rest after a long hardworking life.

Uncle Johnny (as he was called) and Aunt Dollie were sitting comfortably and relaxing in their chairs probably in the living room of their home. If you notice the chairs they were sitting in, they were different styles. Aunt Dollie had a flower in her hair which was her signature; she always wore a flower in her hair and with her curly hair pulled up. She had what looks like a watch on her left arm and wedding ring on her finger. I would guess that she always wore a watch because of her job as a midwife. She was wearing glasses, and her ears were pierced. I would guess that this photo was taken late in their lives.

When I was a young girl growing up in West Carroll Parish Aunt Dollie was “old” looking to me. Realize now, that I was a young girl of about nine years old. It looks as though there is a pin just above the first button on her dress. I think Aunt Dollie most likely made her dress that she was wearing. There was a doily placed on the back of the chair Uncle Johnny was sitting in. Aunt Dollie probably knitted the doily or crocheted it. Aunt Dollie affectionately had her hand on Uncle Johnny’s arm, and a smile on her face. Uncle Johnny had his head leaning to his right and he wasn’t smiling. I wonder if he was ill and wasn’t feeling well when the photo was taken. He has his left leg crossed over his right leg.

What are you going to do with all your old photos that you inherited? Whatever you do, don’t throw them away. Store them in a container that is made for preserving them. Invest in a storage container that is archival-quality, acid and lignin free boxes. Keeping your photos in archival-quality boxes that are lignin free will preserve your photos for many years. If you are interested in taking  on a new hobby you might consider getting out your photos that have people in them who are unidentified. You might use the identifiers or clues in
 identifying the people in a few of photos. You will be glad you did.


You can always ask family members for help in identifying people in those photos. I had a picture of Daddy when he was about forty years old. The man in the picture with Daddy was unknown to me. I posted the picture on my Facebook timeline and a cousin that I had reconnected with identified the unknown man in the picture. Now the unknown man has a name and he was Daddy’s cousin. I researched the cousin, and now he has his place in my family tree.

I have only about four family photos taken when I was a young girl of about nine or ten years old. Those four photos are a treasure, and I am thankful to all the cousins who have been willing to sharing family photos.

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