Family Tree Photo Mystery Challenge Accepted! Help Us Identify These Old Pictures

By Diane Haddad

Family Tree Magazine’s friend and contributor Sunny Morton sent us several photos she found at an antiques store in Northeastern Ohio, along with a challenge: “There’s enough to possibly identify the family: Names, a place, and even a cousin relationship clue. Can you do it?”

And we said:


Let’s see how well we’ve absorbed the lessons of Photo Detective blogger Maureen A. Taylor.

We’d love your input on this photo mystery challenge! Comment on this post with your thoughts, post to your own blog, or feel free to email us. Here are the five photos, front and back, and our starting thoughts.


Mystery Photo No. 1

Photo Mystery Challenge Bernie Lang

This baby appears to be 12 months or so. The photographer’s imprint is for the J.E. Gearing studio in Covert, Mich. Handwriting on the back says “Bernie Lang.” The mat is 6.5 x 4.25-inch white cardstock with a decorative edge.


Mystery Photo No. 2

mystery photo challenge beatrice lang

This 3.375 x 5.375-inch real-photo postcard is labeled “Beatrice Lang 3 rs old” on the back. The handwriting looks similar to photo No. 1.


Mystery Photo No. 3

mystery photo challenge

This is also a real-photo-postcard measuring 3.375 x 5.375-inches. The child shown on the front looks to be 2 or 3 years old. The back reads “Compliments of Little Beatrice to Cousin Bernice. Please answer at once all are well Eetta[?]”


Mystery Photo No. 4

mystery photo challenge

This 4 x 6-inch unmounted paper print is labeled “Beatrice Lang” and “Henry Burg” on the back, in what looks like different handwriting. We’d estimate this young woman to be in her late teens. Her short hair and open neckline are similar to fashions we’ve seen in photos from the 1920s.


Mystery Photo No. 5

mystery photo challenge lenna lang

This photo has “Lenna Lang” written on the back (in what looks like the same handwriting as on photo Nos. 1 and 2) . It’s mounted on textured brown cardstock (the scan of the back of the card is closest to the actual color), measuring 3 x 4.25 inches. This young woman might be in her late teens or early 20s. Because of the high neckline and hair pulled back with a big bow, we think this picture dates earlier than photo No. 4 above.


It’s a Photo Mystery Challenge!

What do you think of our estimated ages? What and dates would you give these photos?

photo mystery challenge: all images

From the photos and captions, I think we have three people in these pictures:

  • Beatrice Lang: photos 2 and 4
  • Bernice Lang: (photo 1 for sure, and photo 3 sure does look like the same child as photo 1—but why would Bernice be receiving a photo of herself from her cousin?)
  • Lenna Lang: photo 5

Apparently Bernice and Beatrice are cousins, but how are they related to Lenna? Who is this Henry?

Let’s see what we can figure out about this family!

Get clues for researching unidentified photos and solving family photo mysteries with the Family Photo Detective guidebook by Maureen A. Taylor.