We have a big tip for you that spans decades and generations. If you are into genealogy, history and an archivist, you must have heard about Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective®. As an internationally renowned expert in historic photo identification, preservation, and genealogical research, Maureen has long been our go-to source.
Before sharing one of our favorite tips by Maureen, you will quickly understand who we are raving fans. She is regularly featured in print media and on national TV programs like The Today Show, The View, the Boston Globe, and MSNBC. As the author of 11 books and active blogger, she also is a contributing editor to Family Tree Magazine.
Credit: excerpt reprinted with permission by Maureen Taylor
Friday is a big day in my life. It’s a special day set aside for photo consults with clients. I get to peek into your incredible collections and solve mysteries.
Each session starts with a question: “How did you hear of me?”
Some folks have been hanging on to one of my business cards for years waiting for the right moment to reach out. Others find me by searching the web. In other cases, it’s word of mouth.
It doesn’t really matter how they found me, only that they did.
I love a mystery. I’m not particularly fond of mystery books, but put a picture in front of me and it’s an entirely different matter. It borders on obsession.
So you may be wondering why people seek me out for a consult. The answer is…it varies.
It could be a completely unidentified image that is driving someone crazy because it eludes his or her family history connection. For instance, Dorothy knew everyone in her pictures except one. I gave her a research outline to follow. Bingo! Case solved.
It might be an image with a curious prop. One of my clients had a picture of an ancestor with a strange looking musical instrument in the background. A bit of research and a connection with a music historian revealed it was a melodeon. That piece of family history wasn’t written in a census record or a vital record. The picture clues told the story of one man’s fascination with music.
Our ancestors leave us odd packets of images that defied their attempts to identify them. They knew the family name from which those pictures descended but not the names to go with the faces. For one client matching up the images with information in the census finally put names with an envelope of photos, his grandfather left him.
Every consult is a bit different because each of your family stories is unique. While each consult is as unique as your family history, they all share one thing– suggestions on where to look for additional answers. Don’t be surprised if I assign homework too. <smile> Your family history doesn’t stop once the photo is identified or dated, for me the most interesting stories get revealed through putting the pieces together through documentation, research, and image clues.
Let me help you discover a “lost” piece of your family history by looking at your pictures.