Figuring Out Who’s Family in Old Photos

By Maureen A. Taylor

Do you own one of those photos that nags you with unanswered questions? Karen Perry does.

Perry unidentified1.jpg

Unlike the rest of the photos in her collection, this lovely family group is completely unidentified. She’s asked relatives, but no one knows who they are.

Mom and Dad are in the center surrounded by their children. Two sons flank their parents with the other son stands center back. Of course there could be in-laws in the photo, too.

Karen wrote that her “close-in” relatives lived in Ohio. More distant relatives lived in Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The problem with photo collections is that they’re often a combination of family, friends and neighbors. These individuals might not be direct relatives.

She thinks the older man looks very familiar and thought he might be one of her famous relatives. They have links to two presidential families, the Harrisons and the McKinleys. She’s looked online for pictures of the famous folk, but didn’t see any obvious connections.

Thankfully, Karen supplied full contact information with her submission so I’m calling her this week to see if there are any other clues in the family photo collection that would help with this identification. <smile>

Right now, I can estimate when the image was taken based on their attire. The round eyeglasses of the man on the left, the loose-fitting dresses of the women and those short hairstyles pinpoint this to circa 1920.


Here’s a fun Flickr page for you with images of people wearing eyeglasses. Click an image for more information about the photo and the glasses.

I’m hopeful that Karen will have some other details to share. Once I’ve spoken with her I’ll share some additional tips on how to share this photo.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album