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Family Photos Meeting in Chicago

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  • Gregory J Kopchak
    ANALYZING 19th CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS FOR FAMILY HISTORY DATA by Craig L. Pfannkuche Some of us are lucky enough to possess old photographs of our ancestors.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2007
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      by Craig L. Pfannkuche

      Some of us are lucky enough to possess old photographs of our
      ancestors. Many times these photographs do not have any identifying
      names on them. This presentation will focus on how a family history
      researcher might be able to identify such individuals. Additionally,
      suggestions will be made as to how "unnamed" photographs, even if they
      cannot be identified, can be used to add interesting material to one's
      family history.

      It should be remembered that not all identifications written on
      the fronts or backs of "carte-de-visites" (business card sized
      photographs 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches) or "cabinet cards" (generally about
      4 x 6 inches) are accurate. Identifications might have been scrawled
      on the photographs years after they were taken at a time when the
      identifier's memory might have grown hazy. Thus, this presentation
      will also discuss; how identification can be confirmed?

      The age of the person in the photograph (I have a hard time
      judging the age of females.) and the person who took the photograph
      are critical to determining who is actually in the photograph.
      Judging the age of the person in the photograph is mostly a matter of
      guessing. Finding the data when a photograph was taken can be done
      more easily. It is most often done by comparing the name and address
      of the photographer to those found in City Directories or, if they are
      not available for that area, in newspaper business card
      advertisements. Note when the photographer was at the specific
      address printed at the bottom or back of the photograph. Compare
      that to the date of the City Directory or newspaper edition.

      If there is no photographer data on the photograph, take note of
      the hairstyles (especially of women), clothing, and, possibly,
      background props shown in the photograph: Compare these to what is
      seen in old reprint "Wards" or "Sears" catalogs, or use comparative
      photographs seen in one of the books listed below.

      For "carte de visites", note also whether there are brown or
      blue lines around the photograph. That means a mid 1860's date. On
      occasion, blue or orange "postage" style stamps can be found on the
      backs of the photos. They mean an 1865 or 1866 date.

      If one is lucky enough to have an album of 19th century family
      photographs but feels discouraged that most of the photographs are not
      named, a number of people in those photographs can still be
      identified. It is critically important here to understand the work

      The person who put the collection of photographs together was
      most often thinking that "the most important members of the family
      come first." Where husband and wife photographs entered first? Were
      siblings and cousins placed further to the rear of the album? Where
      were the photos taken? Relationships often lead to identifications.

      This meeting January 26th will be held at the First Presbyterian
      Church of LaGrange, 150 S. Ashland Ave. and W. Elm Ave., LaGrange, IL
      60525 (western suburb of Chicago): located 2 blocks west of
      LaGrange Road (US45) and 5 blocks south of W. Ogden Ave (Hwy 34)
      This Saturday event is free for visitors and guests and starts at 1:30
      pm. 2008 meetings will take place on Saturdays March 29, May 17,
      August 16, and October 18 CSAGSI has over 1000 members in Chicago
      and all its Suburbs

      For additional information contact on meetings and speakers contact:
      Marge Sladek-Stueckemann 1-847-392-9036

      Multiculturalism Genealogy: CSAGSI is not just for Illinois research
      of Czechs & Slovaks heritage: add the Austrian Empire, Bohemians,
      Carpatho-Rusyn, Ruthenia, Moravians, Silesia, Hungarian Kingdom, and
      the USA

      Simon "Sam" Krizan
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