Family Photograph Analysis and Dating

Family photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras reveal an insight into our ancestor’s lives and are treasured heirlooms that can be passed down the generations in a family. Photographs can be examined to reveal how our ancestors looked and dressed and an approximate timeframe can be given, usually within a five year period. Very few photographs were taken prior to about 1850 and many do not survive prior to that date. Many that can be dated and analysed fall into the mid-late Victorian and Edwardian eras and can help you determine who the person in the photograph relates to.

Photographs are researched by working with the format or type of mount, the type of photograph, the props in the photograph, the fashions people are wearing and the hairstyles of the men and women. A detailed analysis can be made often suggesting a special occasion such as a marriage, engagement, christening or even a death in the family whereby the person may be wearing mourning dress. Props used in Victorian and Edwardian photographs vary greatly, often being a chair, a sideboard, a toy or even a chaise longue. There are many different styles of photograph, three of which are cabinet cards, post cards and carte de visite which were very popular in the late Victorian era.

Occupational and military photographs can be dated and analysed revealing a wealth of information about the photograph. Military and occupational photographs reveal the persons occupation or the regiment of a soldier, along with a timeframe when they served or worked. Many photographs of soldiers were taken during World War I and were sent home in postcard form.

Studio photographers are sometimes stated on the mount or stamped on the back of photographs and in some cases can be researched to reveal the studios operational dates.

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