Un-named old photos

Since I started tracing my Family tree I have noticed how frequently our parents and grandparents either neglected to name people in their family snapshots or just labled them , for example, 'Mums sister' or 'Uncle Alf'.
I myself have a box of about 400 wonderful old family photos - with absolutely no idea at all who the people were and how they are related to me.
With the now advent of digital photos it is probable that this problem is going to get worse.
I have tried identifying them through the photography studio marked on the back but most of these are now out of existence.
Does any-one else share my frustration about this issue.?

Last reply: 18th May 2012 / 13 replies / Post by terribrown

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Posted: 1st Aug 2010 says: Yes!! Totally agree! I love to look at my Grand-Parents' old photos but at times have no idea who is who! I too can imagine with digital photos this will only get worse! Reply


Posted by: gladheart
Posted: 2nd Aug 2010

gladheart says: You are so lucky to have all those photos. Someone will remember who some of those people are. My mother threw out nearly all the photos of all the family about thirty years ago and my father finished the job when she died. Fortunately he didn't get them all and all we have left is a very select few of HIS relatives. Thank goodness for genealogy and family to fil in the missing bits. You never know when the photos will be recognised. Don't despair, enjoy making up stories about those you don't know and have fun. Reply


Posted by: ValmaL
Posted: 27th Sep 2010

ValmaL says: My father found some old albums many years ago and he and his sister wrote on the back's and we are very gratefull. It is also good to see his writing as he passed away 45yrs ago. Reply


Posted by: WitchyMage
Posted: 6th Oct 2010

WitchyMage says: I get that problem too. Although I find it more funny than frustrating. It's like a game of guess who and identifying who's a relative of whom by their features that are somewhat similar to someone else that you know.

As for digital photos, there are many programs (some that come with the camera) that allow you to tag people - much like in facebook. That should help in identifying people in the future. Reply


Posted by: typhoon
Posted: 17th Nov 2010

typhoon says: Try finding old photo's more than 100 years old which are family but there are no people alive who remember the people or places in the photo's. Some of the people will never be identified and only guessed at as to who they are.
Digital photo's won't make the problem worse but only different.information can be stored in digital photo's so the people in the photo's are not forgotten. The storage of the photo's, now that is another problem. But technology changes so much that the format they are stored on now may be outdated in a decade or two.Will the old format be readable under the new technology, that is the question. Reply


Posted by: Rob
Posted: 24th Nov 2010

Rob says: I agree, terribrown. I have been doing my family tree and have found the same frustrating proble. I have also found I have also been at fault and not written on photos thinking I will do it later and never did. I find with digital photos, I do put something under the photo but if you make a hard copy and do not write on the back you may have some chance of finding details but we don't know what is going to happen don the track with your photos on computer. Reply


Posted by: dawn1
Posted: 29th Nov 2010

dawn1 says: I can quite understand what you mean, so being one of the Oldies of this world I have now well over 15 albums....300 photos each, for the generations to come, years on the outside, and well marked, after all they may only be interested in certain dates so can happily do it alone in their own time without having to sit at a player or computer for hours,there can be times when the latest gizmos are not always the best. Reply


Posted by: julzbrownlie
Posted: 5th Jan 2011

julzbrownlie says: I now it is terrible but I can't say I am any better I haven't even printed off half the photos I have taken so they are just all on a cd and people in 100 years time wil have no idea who they are of. Reply


Posted by: ahayton
Posted: 28th Jan 2011

ahayton says: I completely understand and have exactly the same problem. We have 1000s of old photos of my family and I do not have a clue who they are. My uncle has started researching that side of my family with some interesting results, however this is extremely time consuming.
I do think that the digital age will make things worse. Once I have photos of my computer I try to label them appropriately, but again, this is time consuming, however, will be beneficial in the long run. Not only names of people though, dates are incredibly important I think!!! Reply

Kiwi chick

Posted by: Kiwi chick
Posted: 9th Feb 2011

Kiwi chick says: Photo recognition software may very well help as once you have one or two identified it will help with others. The many genealogy magazines available can often help tie down a date as they use the type of photo and the clothes as clues.
I have scanned all my hard copy photos and saved them to disk as a backup and I also have a portable hard drive I use for backing up. I also have a digital photo frame so there are several backups should disaster strike.


Posted by: louotter
Posted: 16th Feb 2011

louotter says: I found many years ago that at the Mitchell Library in Sydney NSW that they had lots of negetives and details from the various photographers from Sydney and also other areas of NSW
May be worth looking into if you can even make out part of the name of photographer. Reply


Posted by: mandal
Posted: 16th Feb 2011

mandal says: I understand completely! My mum has a lot of albums and I really should ask her to go through them with me while she's still able to remember who everyone is, and label them well. I have the added problem that the names will have to be transliterated into English from Chinese.

I print out my digital photos and have been diligently labelling most of them on the back with people's full names. It's tedious but I like to think that someday someone will be grateful! Reply


Posted by: typhoon
Posted: 18th May 2012

typhoon says: when my uncle died we found an old cardboard box of old negatives of photo's where there is no one alive who can remember who is in is guesswork working out who many in the photo's are.As many of the images are now 100 years old, many of the faces will remain unknown. Reply

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