Genealogy research: Dating vintage photographs by clothing & hairstyles

Most of us today take photographs for our family albums. The lucky ones among us have also inherited family photographs from the past. These photographs provide another type of record that can offer insights into our family history. But what can they tell us? How can we elicit the information they hold? And how do we analyse or evaluate that information?

How to spot a collodion positive, also known as an ambrotype (early 1850s–1880s)

Commercial portrait photography began in the s and old family photographs can portray ancestors from the early-Victorian era onwards. Many historic photos surviving today are undated and unidentified and we can use various methods to work out their time period:. This can help, but studio data may be elusive, patchy or too broad to pinpoint a close date for a given photograph. All available evidence should be considered, but often most useful for accurate photo dating are the picture clues, especially the fashions worn by their subjects: clothes, accessories and hairstyles.

Victorian dress styles were complex, determined by age, status and location: fashion also accelerated between the s and s.

Here are some websites that may help you to date your family photos:D Also included are links to “Victorian and Edwardian Photographs”.

The Island of Jersey has rich history of photographic practice as a territory geographically and culturally positioned between Britain and France, two nations that were prominent in the development of the medium of photography. Included in its founding objectives were the creation of a museum and library. Multiple interests in the medium of photography, as a method for recording research, as documentary and scientific records and as an independent art form are actively maintained by society members to the present day.

These patterns of development, established over more than years, have resulted in the accumulation of a photographic archive which is remarkable in its insular context. Photography arrived in Jersey on 9th May just nine months after it had been first publicized in the urban centres of England and France. Able to practice in the Channel Islands without concern for the patents restricting the medium in the s, amateur and professional photographers arrived from both sides of the English Channel.

Following technical developments in the s, by the boom period for Victorian photography in the s the number of photographic studios in St Helier peaked at twenty-one. The archive holds examples of work by important nineteenth century photographers such as William Collie, Charles Hugo, Thomas Sutton and Henry Mullins. The collection incorporates late nineteenth century studio collections of negatives by Jersey based photographers such as Ernest Baudoux, Albert Smith and Clarence Ouless.

The subjects represented in the collection are as diverse as the multitude of processes and techniques with which they were made. Examples range from the earliest photographic processes of the Daguerreotype and Salted Paper print or Calotype made during the late s and s through the Collodion, Albumen and Gelatin process advancements of the Victorian era.

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Here are several sites that can help you put your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents on the right branches of your family tree. Here are some places where you can pick up a few style cues to help you ID your own vintage family photographs! Wikipedia The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia provides a nicely detailed collection of articles about the many eras of clothing fashion. Here are direct links to the sections dedicated to the time since photography was possible: s s s s s s s s s s — — s.

Flickr collections by era These contributed photographs are grouped by decade, and the multitude of images will provide you with a helpful frame of reference to compare your vintage photos.

Old family photographs hold lots of clues for genealogy researchers. Use these tips to help date photographs and unlock the stories they tell.

Use costume history to date photos. Learn tips and hints and examples to help you to achieve a date within 5 years either way of the photo ‘s original date. This will make your genealogy research so much more meaningful to you and your family. Learn by example how to use your own detective skills to examine your photo in detail. See how close you can get to the date which in some cases you may be able to verify with documentation.

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. Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values, homelife and politics have all contributed to lifestyle trends which influence the clothes we wear.

How Women’s Fashion Can Help Date Old Photographs

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Dating a Costume Photograph of a Crowd Scene. How to The sleeves with soft fullness at the head and the fitted silhouette suggest late Victorian styling​.

National Trust curator Catherine Troiano reveals some of her tips on how to date early family photographs Images: National Trust. Later that year William Henry Fox Talbot introduced his negative-to-positive paper technique. As photography developed over the decades after its invention, so did its role in society and culture. Photography quickly became an important part of family life; a tool for creating memories, legacies and identities.

All of these photographs come from the National Trust which looks after collections across its properties. If you have Victorian or Edwardian photographs in your family album, these tips might help you date them. You can see more photographs in the collection at nationaltrustcollections. Family portraits such as this became common among the social elite in the later 19th century.

Rather than the family going to a studio, this photographer was called out to the family estate where sitters could be photographed on their land and with their belongings. Made using a four-lens camera, which captured eight negatives on a single plate, each image was cut up and mounted onto standard- size cards. Cartes de visite were comparatively inexpensive to sit for and they were widely collected and traded, becoming regular features of the Victorian parlour. Taking photographs to commemorate a special occasion has long been a common use of the medium, and this continues to be the case today.

Dating Old Family Photos – Victorian Era (1840-1900)

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A date will sometimes help fit a photo into a family tree. Date an old Photographs of Victorian, Edwardian and 20th century ladies sorted by year to

Dolores’s interest in fashion history dates from her teenage years when vintage apparel was widely available in thrift stores. Black skirts and white blouses, but without the huge puffs of the s, plus the white dress with layers of lace, place this photo in the early s. Trying to identify ancestors while looking at old photographs can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you have one of those families where the same face reappears every generation or so.

One method is to study what kind of clothing a subject is wearing in a portrait. This is easiest if the subject is female as women’s fashions change more quickly than for men. In general, old photos of family members were posed and often taken by professional photographers.

Dating Old Photographs

Jump to navigation. Victorian Studio Portrait Photograph Collection. Photographic portraits from the mids to the early s, the bulk representing studios in Missouri and Kansas, particularly Kansas City. You are here All Collections.

The Photographic Archive of the Société Jersiaise contains over , items dating from the mids to the present period for Victorian photography in the s the number of photographic studios in St Helier peaked at twenty-one.

Find out what type of photograph you have Types of Photograph. Photographs of Victorian, Edwardian and 20th century ladies sorted by year to Photographs of people arranged by year to People by Year 5. Carte de visite printer. A large list of photographs and photographers each with an estimated date A-Z list of dated photographs.

A large plus list of photographers and photographs a few have estimated dates. Frequently Asked Questions I have a photo like yours Date a Carte de Visite Photograph A date will sometimes help fit a photo into a family tree 1.

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