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Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs 2nd Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 003-5313706776
ISBN-10: 1558707247
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Maureen A. Taylor is a genealogist who writes for Memory Makers, Heritage Albums, and is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine. She is the author of Preserving Your Family Photographs and Scrapbooking Your Family History.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Family Tree Books; 2 edition (June 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558707247
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558707245
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Howells on January 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Really disappointed in this book. It says things like If you wish to date a photograph look at their clothes and the kind of photograph it is, if it is a polaroid it is after 1960 and if they are wearing a civil war uniform its probably 1860 to 1865...hmmm. There are a couple of good charts in there, but it keeps falling short in other things, it will say stuff like "look through your photographs for funeral photos, often the people pose with the dead'. I think I could figure that out. One of the things that bugged me is there is a guy there in a uniform exactly like one my relative was in--- oh boy, now I can date that photo-- the caption says "military uniforms are a good way to time a photo". DUH.
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Format: Paperback
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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I have many photos with no names or dates on them. The people I am researching are no longer living, and there are no living relatives that can help me. This guide has helped me identify several photos when family members were children and young married people..
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