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photo genealogy The best way to learn about your family tree is with photo genealogy or to restore old family photographs. During your quest to discover your family roots, have you been presented with a shoe box filled with aging photographs? Many questions may flow in your mind after rummaging through this irreplaceable wealth of family history that photo analysis techniques would answer. How can I preserve them? When were these photographs taken? Who are the people in the family photographs? Photo genealogists know how to protect and display these family heirlooms?

Our relatives present us with photographs of family members from decades past. For a family historian these provide a wealth of knowledge that may fill in the blanks in their genealogy research. Photographs makes building a family tree more fun because it puts faces to names and creatively tells the tale of how family members once lived. Read on for tips on possible clues in your family photographs, how to preserve your family photographs, and how to date your family photographs.


Preserving Family Photographs
Once you acquire old photographs of your family treat them like family treasure. They may be stored in shoe boxes or old photo albums, but as you can see these storage devices speed up their deterioration. Light is the biggest cuprit due to its participation in chemically producing the photographs. Overtime, rays of light will make your photographs fade or create dark spots over faces.

What To Do :
1. Take photocopies of your photographs for display purposes, so that you do not threaten loss or damage of the original photos.

2. Categorize your photographs and store them in an acid free envelope.

3. Store the acid free envelopes in a dark, temperature controlled place, preferably that is fireproof like a safety deposit box or small home safe.



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Dating Your Family Photographs
In general photos can be dated by the photographic method used to create the images on two dimensional surfaces.

Here are some photography styles :

1. Daguerreotype (1839-1870) - This was the first professional photograph style produced and sold in Britain. The images reflected from a copper insert encased by a decorative wood box frame. If you move the image around in the light, you will see it change from light to dark. Only upper class families could afford this photographic type, so if you have one you can assume that your family was well supported financially in the 1940s era.

2. Ambrotypes (1850-1890) - sometimes referred to as glass positives, the photos created from this style were chemically bleached into glass. In short period of a few minutes, ambrotypes were created and encased in decorative boxes like daguerreotypes. The cheapness and quick manufacturing times made these quite popular at traveling fairs.

3. Glass positive - 1860s - This technique involved converting a glass negative to a glass positive by chemically bleaching the photo. The photo developing took only a matter of minutes to complete and attracted many new photographers to the trade, thus drastically lowering the prices of these photos that were often offered at traveling carnivals.

4. Ferrotypes (or Tintypes) - 1870s - This technique is a cheaper alternative to the glass positives because it uses the chemical bleaching methods on iron instead of glass. Like glass positives, these photographs were widely acquired at traveling fairs.

Interesting Facts About Photo Genealogy
1. Many Victorian era photographers branched out from their studios to solicit customers door-to-door or at fairgrounds.
2. Earlier family photographs were posed within a studio and fancy backdrops and furniture. The invention of the Kodak camera made photos more common place and captured candid moments that tell the true story of your family instead of how you family wished to be portrayed.
3. In earlier times, only the rich ladies wore white for their wedding. The happy couple usually posed with the taller man seated and the bride with one hand on his shoulder with the other hand carefully displaying the wedding ring.

Genealogy Clues Found In Your Family Photographs
Snapping photographs of families is a relatively new aspect of preserving family history. Nonetheless, preserving and investigating family photos will prove be very powerful. Many early photos were posed family photos with every decked out in their fanciest duds and made to look polished for the future generations who view the images. However, with the invention of the Kodak disposable cameras, many candid photos surfaced that tell a broader story about the lives of our ancestors. Here are some things to Look For :

1. Scan every inch of your photos for writing, especially the name and company of the professional who took the photo. These clues may help you date the photo, discover the names and ages of the people portrayed, as well as the actual event. You may want to learn from this and always include an acceptable amount of demographic information on your own photographs.

2. Investigate the background in photographs. You may want to learn more about the family home pictured, such as if an addition was put on the building later. Some people learn from old photos that their families were farms because of chicken coups on the background. Other items in the background may be cars. Knowing the makes and models of the cars in the photos may not indicate when the photo was taken, but it will give you a range.

3. Look at the clothing - In posed photos you will see how much your family members could afford by how well dressed they are. Some clothing can tell you the era that the photo was taken, but be aware that some people may still where 70s style bell bottoms in the eighties.

4. Body language in photos - Body language experts believe that if a subject in a photo looks straight ahead and has squared shoulders, she is very confident. Other estimations of confidence could be whether they present themselves with a big toothy smile.

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