How to Win the Family Photo Lottery

By Maureen A. Taylor

I’ve lost track of exactly how long I’ve been writing this column. The first edition of my book Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs was published in 2000, and I started this column in February of the following year.

That means you’ve been reading about identifying family photographs for nine years. That’s a lot of pictures!

Anyone can submit photos to be featured in this space or in my Photo Detective column in Family Tree Magazine. Under the Navigation heading at the left is a link to How to Submit Your Photo.

While I look at and file each of the e-mails I receive from readers, you can increase the odds that you’ll win this picture lottery by doing the following:

  • Use Family Tree Magazine in the subject line of your email.
  • Send me a question about the image, as well as anything at all you know or don’t know about it.
  • Your contact information—name, address and telephone number. While I’m not apt to call overseas, if you live in the United States or Canada, don’t be surprised to hear me on the other end of the telephone. I like to talk with folks about their pictures. It’s amazing how much more can be learned through a conversation rather than an email. Obviously, I love having unlimited long-distance calling! <smile>
  • In order to really see the details in your pictures, I need them submitted in at least 300 dpi. If you send them smaller, all I can see when I enlarge a detail is a blur of pixels.


This isn’t too bad, but if I were to enlarge it any further it wouldn’t be usable.

  • Don’t forget to send me a scan of the back of the photo if it has any information or a photographer’s name and address.

If you’d like to submit a picture but you don’t have a scanner, it is possible to send a copy of an image via regular mail. You can make a copy using one of those retail photo kiosks. The mailing instructions are in the link on the left.

One more thing—my e-mail archive goes back several years, so keep checking your e-mail. If you change e-mail addresses or telephone numbers, please resend your image with the new contact information. A lot of the e-mail inquires I respond to for additional data never get answered by the photo’s submitter.

I love working on your photo mysteries!! Keep the emails coming in.