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.Is it possible to determine whether a photograph was taken in the last years of the nineteenth century or the first few years of the twentieth century? Dating a photograph requires you to use your best genealogical research techniques, but it can be done.You need to research every photographic clue and follow the leads to uncover the truth that is usually hidden in the elements of the photograph. Photographs offer many clues about ancestral lives, if you know what to look for. Then, using a magnifying glass, sweep across the image making notes of any details.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.Be on the lookout for the following: Clothing provides one of the most specific ways to accurately date an image.Women's fashions changed quite often and even the poorest women made attempts to keep up with the latest trends.
Graduations, weddings, christenings, first communions, and even formal birthday portraits can be found in family collections. Family photographs are fascinating in the enlightening amount of history and detail they contain.
However, don't rely completely on this information, as it could have been erroneously written on the back by later relatives who thought they knew the date.
Just as national and international news items appear in family images through our ancestors' participation in them, local events usually figure prominently in turn-of-the-century collections.
For instance, in a portrait, pay attention to accessories and props.
Look for signage and architectural details in an exterior photograph.