Before you’re tempted to toss an unidentified image remember this: unidentified photos don’t have to remain that way. It might take time and patience, but it is often possible to attach a family, a name, or a generation with an image. The process begins by studying the clues. Before you’re tempted to toss an unidentified image remember this: unidentified photos don’t have to remain that way. It might take time and patience, but it is often possible to attach a family, a name, or a generation with an image. The process begins by studying the clues.
For the last month, this blog featured three photo submitted by Sandy Eichelberger. One was a wedding photo, another featured a woman in a heavy overcoat, and the last one featured a light-eyed woman.
In each post, I broke down the clues. By studying the details it was possible to assign a tentative time frame to each one. The rest of the clues lie outside the picture, in family history data.
What Do You Know?
You’ve studied the clues in your pictures and now it’s time to think about all that family history. What do you know about the folks living in the time period of the photos?
All Sandy really knows is that the people in these three photos are likely her mother’s relatives. Thankfully, Sandy is a genealogist so she could send me some genealogical information.
Now it’s time to narrow down the list of her ancestors to find possible matches. Even if you’re unable to pinpoint a person, having a generation match can be helpful. The photo might not depict a direct relative, but someone close to their age. Let’s look at the wedding party picture first.
The clues in the wedding image suggested a date of circa 1910.
Sandy thinks the wedding photo is from the paternal side of her mother Marie’s family. She knows less about that side of her family. She doesn’t think the people resemble any of her mother’s direct relatives.
That means that these folks could be relatives of Marie’s father, Nicholas Mueller (1896-1988). Sandy’s unsure they resemble the Mueller’s either and wonders if they could be cousins. It’s possible.
In 1910 Sandy’s maternal grandfather was 14. Since the time frame is circa 1910, it could have been taken a few years after that. Here are a few theories:
- It’s also possible that the wedding could be connected to his sisters—Carrie or Clara. Carrie was 19 in 1910 and Clara 16. Perhaps one of the sisters is in the wedding party.
- Or it could depict members of the Schoemann family. Marie’s paternal grandmother was Barbara Schoemann, mother of Nicholas.
More research on that line of the family is necessary to determine who might be who. Having some photographs of that family could be helpful as well.
- Contact descendants of the Schoemann’s and the rest of the Mueller’s. They might have the same picture in their family collection. This will take time, but looking at DNA matches might help. Reach out to them and see if they have some images for comparison.
- Look for other descendants on the big genealogy sites—Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and FamilySearch.com. Sandy might get lucky and find photos for comparison.
- Gather what you’ve found and compare all the faces to see if there are any matches.
- Share the wedding photo with other researchers. Post it on social media groups relating to families of the same surnames.
I hope she finds a match. I think it’s quite possible that family is in this image.
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You’ll love this if:
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- you want tips for scanning, retouching and filing digital photos