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Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs (PBS Ancestor) [Paperback]

by Maureen Taylor
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2000 1558705279 978-1558705272 1st
Everyone keeps old family photographs, whether in frames, albums or shoe boxes. These photos house a treasury of genealogical information, revealing unique details about our ancestors' lives, personalities and everyday realities. Following this guide's step-by-step instruction, anyone can learn how to identify different types of family photographs to determine their date, location, and in some instances, their photographer. Case studies of actual photographs illustrate how other details, such as poses, props, dress and setting can lead to several new genealogical discoveries. Even if a reader's collection of images is limited, this guide provides methods for locating additional photos through libraries, relatives and archives. Once these photos are collected and analyzed, readers will also learn how to preserve their family collection for generations to come.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Maureen A. Taylor, of, is the author of UNCOVERING YOUR ANCESTRY THROUGH FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS (Betterway, 2000) and a guide to family history for kids, THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUR ANCESTORS (Houghton Mifflin, 1999).

Product Details

  • Series: PBS Ancestor
  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Betterway Books; 1st edition (January 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558705279
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558705272
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maureen A. Taylor is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of history, genealogy, and photography. She has been featured in top media outlets, including The View, Martha Stewart Living, and The Today Show. Maureen is the author of a number of books and magazine articles, as well as a contributing editor at Family Tree Magazine. In 2007, The Wall Street Journal called her "the nation's foremost historical photo detective."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and useful book January 5, 2001
This book is an outstanding way to expand your family history skills through photo research. It provides step-by-step advice on how to identify ancestors in photos using their poses, clothes, studio props, and other information.
After giving a history of photography with emphasis on identifying types of photographs by era, the author provides chapters such as "Looking for Clues", "Identifying Costume", and the very important "Identifying the Photographer". The book also gives detailed information on how to build your own family photograph collection including the use of photograph worksheets and proper labeling.
The photographs used to illustrate the book are simply glorious. It is a visual treat to follow the pictorial examples given to explain the text. Each photo is an exquisite specimen of how our ancestors faced the camera.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real help to genealogists! April 17, 2001
This book has great value to the genealogist. When confronted with unidentified photographs, we often despair of ever identifying the subjects. This book offers real assistance with this. Author Maureen Taylor offers detailed information on using clues in photographs themselves to identify their subjects. One example on pages 42-43 shows a street scene in Providence, Rhode Island. Since the photo contains telephone lines, research can place the image after 1881, the year telephone service was introduced there. The date can be even more precisely determined by other internal details of the photo. The book's appendices include a "Timeline of Photographic History" and an excellent bibliography of sources.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best for Photograph Dating July 23, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent "textbook" for anyone who is getting into dating old photographs. Taylor gives very thorough and accurate information on photography processes and the types of photographs to be found in old collections.

The section on identifying costume is especially fine, although it is just a beginning for learning how to determine age by the clothing being worn. The worksheets provided at the end of the book are especially helpful.

All in all, if you are only going to buy one book on this subject, this is the book for you!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great beginners resource August 15, 2008
This book is a good start to identifying old photos - but it's not everything you'll need.

Pros: Taylor gives a great description of the history of photographs, covering methods of photography and types of photos. There are many example photos that cover a wide range of dates and styles. Sections of the book are devoted to helping to identify time periods and people, including charts that detail different 'costumes' by decade. There are even tips and forms included to get you started evaluating your own collection.

Cons: This book isn't everything you'll need. Taylor lists great resources to help you continue your research - but I was hoping to see this book as the resource, not as a list of resources. It is also limited in it's time span. Much of the information applies to the origins of photography up until around 1910. Although many people are more familiar with the styles of the 20th century, it would be nice to see this time period covered in depth as well - at least up to the 1950s or so.

Overall, this book is a good start, but don't expect to be able to use just this book to date and identify all of your photos. As Taylor states in the book, identifying photos is not a quick and easy process and will require multiple resources - including this one.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect to date photos with this alone June 11, 2010
By biogeek
Why can't she provide the approximate dates for the photos presented in this book? Overall, this book is a good introduction to the subject. However, if an unknown person in one of your photos is wearing a dress nearly identical to one shown in the book, you'll still have to try to date it yourself. Obviously, many things need to be considered when dating photos (clothing, hairstyle, age of the subject, etc), but just as a reference, it would be nice to know when a photo was taken. This book gives an overview of the different photographic media (tintypes, carte de viste, etc) as well as the types of photos you might have in your collection (weddings, military, etc). She gives a very brief description of changes in fashion over time, but this really isn't enough to date any particular photograph.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncovering Your Ancestty through Family Photographs December 15, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a very interesting and informative book that has practical guides to dating and identifying old photographs. The information was helpful for a class that I taught at a genealogy conference as well as for my personal use.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous info for identifying photos~ October 12, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book filled w/ marvelous tips on identifying the year of the photos. Especially enjoyed the info on clothes & time periods & photography periods. Very succinct & helpful.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource May 8, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be an excellent resource in my quest to date and place old family photos. I have been researching family history and in the process have gotten many clues from old photos. This book is a great resorce to help interpret what a photo is telling you. I will keep this as a resource in my genealogy library.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Helpful for identifying family photographs
This book provides many helpful tips for identifying family photographs. Many of these tips concern the dating of photographs. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Eugene J. White
4.0 out of 5 stars Family Photographs Research
This book is also quite interesting and provided some additional education regarding the timeframes of photographs. It is a good additional resource.
Published 15 months ago by charlie brown
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting book when you are looking at family pictures
This book has a lot of useful information that teaches you how to look at very old family pictures and how to analyze them. Read more
Published 20 months ago by RichardW
4.0 out of 5 stars Good advise on tracking and dating
This beautifully designed; well illustrated book provides good advice for researching unidentified family photographs from Daguerreotypes to more recent times. Read more
Published on September 26, 2009 by Gary Sprandel
1.0 out of 5 stars Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs
Great service from the vendor. My book arrived in excellent condtion. Maureen Taylor is the expert on vintage or "old" photographs and this book is a delight. Read more
Published on January 23, 2009 by Delphine Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncovering your ancestry through family photograph
I very much like the family history books and feel if I can learn one new thing it was worth the purchase. The book is well put together and easy to understand. Read more
Published on August 4, 2008 by Annette Verniest
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Photos
Glad to find this book, Maureen Taylor does an excellent job of identifying old photos and this book helps you do it yourself.
Published on March 19, 2006 by A. D. Towler
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