ADVERTISEMENT

What a Photo Can Tell You About Your Ancestor

By Maureen A. Taylor

This week I started making a list of all the things you can tell about a person from their portrait. I’d like you to add to my list my using the comment section. If you have an example to illustrate your point upload it to the Photo Detective Forum.

Here’s what I have so far:

1) Occupation
If your ancestor wore distinctive clothing or posed in the workplace then you might be able to tell how they made their living.

2) Medical Conditions
Gnarled arthritic hands, thyroid conditions, eye diseases and more are all visible in a family photo.

3) Military Service
Anyone posed in a military uniform is obvious, but check lapels for veteran’s pins.

4) Weddings
Watch for white hats and veils that signify a matrimonial event, but remember that not all brides wore white and not all white dresses are wedding gowns.

5) Education
Did your ancestor chose to pose with a book? Perhaps it’s not just a prop, but a symbol of their ability to read.

6) Religion
A Bible or other religious symbol in a photo indicates your ancestor’s faith.

Don’t forget to add your clues. Got a question? Post it to the Photo Detective Forum.