Dating family photos

Time to log on to the computer! Safely store, display your old family photographs.

You may not think to look on the Internet for help in dating old photographs, but actually it's the best place to go. A variety of websites offer tips and tools, and they have the great advantage of being able to provide visual aids. To learn more about my mystery photo, I checked examples of photos in the collections of Andrew J.

Dating Old Family Photos – Victorian Era () -

Morris and Robert Vaughn. Both websites detail the history of photography, including samples of various types of photography, such as daguerreotype, cabinet card and tintype. Another extensive online resource is the Library of Congress.

Enter a photo type into its search engine and you will see many examples that may turn out to be similar to the photograph you are researching. Based on its size and composition, I confirmed that my picture was a tintype, a photographic technique that came into use in the mids and lasted until the turn of the century.

Online resources can help you piece together clues from different eras

Knowing the type of photo can still leave a large time period, but if you know the subject of the photo, your genealogical research should be able to help you narrow that. When was the subject born? Did he live in a city or a small town? What work did he do? Both the men in my photo are young, but one appears to be older than the other, and he has arm slung around his younger brother's shoulders.

Dating Family Photographs

Both are holding cigars. The elder is wearing a watch chain and a pinky ring. Sadly, the age difference doesn't help me much. Michael was seven years older than Peter, who was seven years older than Timothy.

Dating and Identifying Your Old Family Photographs

But it does help me rule out a pairing of Michael and Timothy. I now turn to fashion to see if what these men are wearing can help me narrow the date range of the photo. Close examination of sleeves and collars can provide valuable information. Other things to look for on women are the presence and size of a bustle and the fullness of the skirt. For men, look at vests, neckties, the fit of a jacket loose or fitted and how it is buttoned.

By examining the style of fashion worn by the subjects in an old photograph, it is possible to deduce the approximate date it was taken.

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Since I'm no fashionista , I turned to websites such as Family Chronicle , which also has published two books on dating photos, for help in matching styles with a particular era. You may use these HTML tags and attributes:.

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Skirts were floor-length at the turn of the century and grew shorter as the century progressed. In this image, taken in the decade from to , skirt lengths began to change from longer at the beginning of the decade to mid-calf by the end of it. Her skirt shows only her shoe from the ankle down.


Fashion plates from clothing catalogs show shirts shorter than this, but most women stayed with a more conservative length. In this case necklines also changed during the s. She is wearing a high collared lace shirt reminiscent of an earlier period. However, the square collar of her tailored dress places the dress mid-decade. The items a woman selected to wear with her outfit can sometimes pinpoint an exact year.


This woman chose to accessorize her dress with a simple bar pin and a watch. However, her hat is indicative of the style worn around mid-decade. Although not clearly visible in this image, her hat has a fabric rosette to match the ones on her dress. A Crowd scene of old Hebburn with children and women and men of all ages. The costume in the photograph is analysed in detail with snapshots of the main elements of the picture that lead to a date conclusion.

Click on the headings below to go to full pages. The costume, jewellery and hairstyle in the photograph is analysed in detail with snapshots of the main elements of the picture that lead to a date conclusion over a 5 year period. This is study of a father and his two adult daughter a year after the death of his wife. The sitters all wear mourning dress.