Figuring Out Who Is In Old Photo’s

Figuring Out Who Is In Old Photo’s

Sometimes you might inherit photographs from family members that have passed away and not know who they are. My father inherited a box of old photographs from his grandmother, the problem is he doesn’t know who most of the really old ones are. When I scanned them all on to my computer I started to wonder who they were. So I tried to find ways of figuring out who they were. I’ll start with this photo of a family.

Unknown Family Photo
Unknown Family photo

The first thing you need to do is dissect as much information from the photo as possible. Here’s what I got:

  • Postcard Format, years ago people would send photo postcards to loved ones that were done in a studio and mounted on to a postcard. This postcard was from “Bert & Mabel” indicating the two adults names.
  • Postcard reads “To Flo &  Bill” indicating a close relationship to a couple with these names.
  • Children are all of similar age groups so the family would have had: A boy followed by two girls around 1-2 years in age difference, then another boy and another girl. This gives us an indication as to the general family group we are looking for.
  • Style of clothes, in my opinion the style would broadly be between 1905 and 1920.
  • Photographers name, this photo doesn’t contain a photographers name or stamp but if one was present then the date could be further narrowed down based on when he worked or even the negative number of the photo if present.
  • It can be helpful to contact a local historian who if there are markings or a photographers name on the photo. If there are negative numbers on the photo anywhere it can massively help to narrow the possible date range.

Secondly you need to apply that information to a family tree.

  • I know that this photo came from either my great grandmother Gladys Alice Cane’s side of my great grandfather Harold Juden’s side so that’s where I’ll start looking. My photos are more likely to be from the Cane side.
  • If I look through my Cane side I find that Gladys’ parents are William Cane and Florence Kate Wood which matches up with Bill and Flo.
  • One step further I can look through all of the siblings of William and Florence for a Bert or Mabel. I find that William has a brother called Albert and Florence has three brothers called, Ernest Albert, Gilbert and Herbert, giving me four possible leads.
  • All three of Florence Kate Wood’s brothers never married or died young. Leaving only Williams brother Albert.
  • Albert Cane married Mabel Devenish in 1902 and had seven children: Albert 1903, Ellen Louise 1905, Ethel 1907, Richard 1910, Nora Beatrice 1912, Patricia 1915 and Vera Alberta 1921.
  • As there are only five children in this photo it stands to reason that the last two girls haven’t been born yet. This puts the photo at before 1915. The youngest in the photo appears to be around two years old putting the photo at around 1913.

Once you have a hunch or a few possibilities and if you have a photo of any of their family members, cross compare them.

William Cane and Albert Cane
Cane Brothers

The above photo on the left is of William cane, my 2x Great Grandfather and the suspected brother Albert Cane. It’s hard not to be bias when looking for similarities in photo’s so a second opinion should be obtained. To me, the two men look remarkably similar based on facial features and the expression on their faces.

The family group in the photo matches pretty much perfectly with the information in my tree and so proves with very little doubt that this is the family in question.

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