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Old PhotographsSome researchers have piles of photographs. Maybe they’re organized, or maybe they’re just in a shoe box in the top of their bedroom closet. If your old photos are elsewhere (like a basement, a garage, or an attic), please make time to move them into an area where you actually live. Photographs survive best in the same temperatures and humidity that we enjoy.

Dating old photographs isn’t high on my priority list of ancestral research, simply because I don’t have very many. At all. Those I do have are clearly marked–thank you ancestors, and mostly immediate relatives, 2-3 generations back.

But I have high hopes of running into more…..someday, just as Cathy explained on Opening Doors in Brick Walls in her recent post: Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can. It’s a fantastic story of someone being in the right place at the right time to save photos from being lost forever. If you haven’t seen it, go read it! It’ll give you encouragement in your photo search for missing ancestors.

There have been many blog posts about photographs of relatives, but they don’t know “when” the photo was taken. Not being an expert of fashion over the decades or centuries, how people gauge dates in photographs is of interest to me. My theory has always been, figure out the age of the kids, and then go from there! But if there are no children in the photo, I’m sunk.

This week Ancestry’s blog contained an enlightening description of how to go about time dating old photographs called Historical Fashion Expert Helps Time Date Your Old Family Photos. Seven photos submitted by Ancestry community members were chosen by an expert to share her insight in time dating.feathered hat

The first photo is a lady in a huge, and I mean, mammoth, brimmed hat, about 21-22″ in diameter topped with feathers. When you would date a photograph with a hat like large? I wouldn’t have a clue!

She explains why she believes it was about 1914! Wow, I could barely give a century (told you I’m unenlightened about fashion trends!!). I expected a decade range, but no, she has it narrowed down to a specific year.

In the next six photographs she goes on to explain the clothing and why she can tell what time period it is from. A very interesting blog post.

If you have any photographs that need time dating, they are taking submissions. She will pick some to feature in a later blog post. Let us know if yours is chosen!

~Hat graphic created with free clip art from angiemakes.com and clipartpanda.com