It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is true and extremely helpful when it comes to genealogy and when searching for more information about your family’s history. There are many clues hidden in your photographic gems that many do not even pick up on. Things like the style of the photo, what the subjects are wearing, and even how they are posed can help you learn more about your ancestors and could maybe even provide a missing puzzle piece.
Here are 8 helpful ways to get more out of your old family photos.
Track Photos Down
Gather old pictures from your garage, attic, photo albums, and flash drives. Reach out to your known extended family members for their photos, too. Your great aunt or 2nd cousin may have a picture you have never seen before. If you are unable to use extended family member’s photos, try looking in public collections like, photographic archives, local archives and record offices, local newspapers, trade or work-related periodicals. Who knows! You could get lucky and come across an old family member in a local publication.
When scanning original photos, be sure to select 600 or 1200 DPI (dots per inch) prior to scanning. This will produce a higher resolution picture which can potentially reveal new things.
There is something about old photographs that help bring stories to life. By accurately dating these visual documents, you can include them in their correct historical context. There are several ways of dating photos, so begin by trying to identify the photographic format.
Edit Digital Photos
Sharpening, editing and enhancing old photos, will not only improve the quality, but it could also reveal previously hidden details (like clearing hazy faces!). Try editing photos yourself or have them professional enhanced.
Take every opportunity to chat with your older relatives about family pictures. Because they were around during that time, they may be able to provide names, places, and other details. Do not let this special opportunity and resource go unused.
Deciphering a person’s age in an old photo can be quite tricky because of poor image quality and differing perceptions. If no one is able to verify age, estimate the ages widely, not narrowly. Physical appearance will help accurately judge age, especially for kids. By calculating the year they were likely born, you may be able to find them on a family tree.
Preserving and storing family photos is an honor, but it is also quite a responsibility. If pictures are not properly stored they can quickly become faded, ruined or destroyed, or even lost. Photos should be stored in an acid-free box or book in a safe area.
Treasured and Adored
The photos you have are extremely special and should be treated as such. Taking care of these historical documents and heirlooms is important so that future generations can learn more about past generations. Sharing these heirlooms is important for the past to live on. Showcase these photos every chance you can.