Dating old family photos

There are also websites that collect details of photographers. Again, look online for different sleeve shapes through the ages and try to find ones that match those in the photograph. For the 20th century, dress length can be quite revealing.Always judge by the younger women in the photograph if possible.Boxes of old photographs can sometimes come down the family with no indication of who the sitters are.

Nipsy was grandmother’s horse and was quite partial to her. That is Ella Shellhorn that I liked up there by the fence, and that young man is Edwin Uulrickson, standing back of the buggy.

When the horse became ill, grandmother sat with him, his head in her lap!

Older women are much more likely to be conservative and still be wearing a favourite dress from ten years ago! This can be difficult as there were whole decades of the 19th century when women had a centre parting but when a new fashion comes in with hairstyle it is quicker for people to update than clothing. Of course, it is worth looking at everything that the men in the photograph are wearing but how you tied your cravat or the shape of your collar was something that was cheaper and easier to update than a whole suit, so more likely to reflect the date of the photograph. Dating military photographs can often lead to relatively precise results and this is when people with expert knowledge really come into their own.

The National Army Museum runs regular photo dating sessions and there will be military photo daters at this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? It’s also worth posting images on specialist forums such as Victorian Wars, the Great War forum or our own WDYTYA? This might seem obvious, but if a photograph is stuck in an old album or framed up on the wall, it may be that nobody has looked on the back for years.

This is a favorite of mine, as it is an outdoor scene.

The horse and buggy with driver reminds of my grandmother, Mary Alice Montgomery Carrico, who drove to church and town in a buggy with her beautiful roan, Nipsy.

The cabinet card is similar to the smaller Dating a Cabinet Card: Details of a cabinet card, from the type of card stock to whether it had right-angled or rounded corners, can often help to determine the date of the photograph to within five years.

It is important to note, however, that these dating methods aren't always accurate.

If the photograph is on a post card mount, then it won’t date before 1902. Many CDVs include the name of the photography studio.

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