Two young men stare out at me from a small old photograph. A variety of websites offer tips and tools, and they have the great advantage of being able to provide visual aids.On the back, in my grandmother's handwriting, is written "Grandpa King's brothers." At least I've got some information to work with, but I'm eager to learn more: When was the picture taken? Which two of my great-grandfather's brothers are these? Type of photograph To learn more about my mystery photo, I checked examples of photos in the collections of Andrew J. Both websites detail the history of photography, including samples of various types of photography, such as daguerreotype, cabinet card and tintype.For instance, the portraits at right were labeled, so I know them to be my grandmother’s two grandmothers — and the photo albums they came from suggested that the photographs were taken in the 1880s or 1890s.Despite the womens’ different cultural backgrounds and individual tastes in fashion, the similar type of high, standing collars suggest that they’re on the earlier end of that time frame, most likely the mid-1880s.In exterior scenes, are there cars, sports equipment, or signs present?If so, you can begin to date the photograph to the turn of the century by researching the types of items people used during that time period.Wealthy subjects had many fashionable ensembles to choose from, whereas ordinary working-class ancestors usually donned their best outfit, kept for church on Sundays and special occasions.
or perhaps she cared little about fashion and was always a few years behind.
Based on its size and composition, I confirmed that my picture was a tintype, a photographic technique that came into use in the mid-1850s and lasted until the turn of the century. But it does help me rule out a pairing of Michael and Timothy.
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. I now turn to fashion to see if what these men are wearing can help me narrow the date range of the photo.
In addition, clothing, photographer's imprints and even the photographic technique can help you place the photograph in a timeframe.
Since few people can identify all clues in the picture, assigning a date will probably require a trip to the reference department of a large public or academic library.