Looking for Clues in Old Family Photographs

By Maureen A. Taylor

maureen photo detective identifying people old photographs clues


You probably own a photo in a similar predicament.  Mimi Miller never got a chance to ask her mother about this picture.  It’s now unidentified, but all is not lost.   There are clues worth studying in this image.

Finding the clues

It was taken in Belleville, Ontario, Canada.



  • That’s a clue worth exploring. Take a close look at the family history and see who lived in the area where this image was taken. It’s on light pink card stock and the image has an oval frame.
  • This style of image was popular in the 1870s. She wears a high neck dress with a lace collar.
  • Her collar and the trim on her dress also date this photograph to the 1870s.

So who is she?

Mimi thinks it might be her 2x great grandmother, Elizabeth Toner, born September 5, 1797 in Keady, Armagh, Ireland. She immigrated to Belleville Ontario in 1835 with her husband William Maxwell.

The big question is: How old is she? To be Elizabeth, she’d have to be in her 70s.

What do you think?

Let’s weigh in on this detail.  Add your thoughts to the comments on this post or on our Facebook page.

Get Your Free Essential Genealogy Research Forms

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter and receive 10 research forms as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Download the Essential Family Tree Forms Library!

Can’t get enough forms to organize family facts? This download contains over 100+ templates, checklists and worksheets to track your research—from conflicting death dates to DNA matches, censuses to source citations.