Who’s In The Photo?

I think these are my great-grandparents, but the farm does not look familiar. I'll have to talk to my parents about where this photo was taken.

I think these are my great-grandparents, but the farm does not look familiar. I’ll have to ask my parents about where this photo was taken.

I came across a box of my grandpa’s old family photos. Some faces are familiar, but many are not. And most have no date recorded.

My only clues come from inside the faded black and white photos. I can see hints of clothing styles, old-model cars and a different way of life.

What can we do when there are no names or dates on old family photos?

If there is no one around to ask, how do you know who is in the image, where and when it was taken and if it was a special occasion?

Some suggestions include looking at:

  • Familiar faces: Is there anyone you recognize? If so you can try to guess their age based on other photos you may have.
  • Background: Is there anything that can tell you where they are? Old buildings, a familiar house, street corner, or a tourist spot.
  • Body language: Is it a formal portrait, or a fun family get-together? Sometimes personalities come through in images too.
  • Date stamps or writing on the back. If you get lucky you may come across a photo with a month and year stamp, this could help to date others if it was together with similar photos (and the photos seem to be well organized).
  • Is there anyone around that may know who some of these people are? Perhaps relatives or family friends may be able to shed some light.

The article 5 Steps for Identifying People in Old Family Photographs  offers some helpful advice on dating photos – all from looking at the actual type of photo to estimating the decade based on clothing and hair styles.

I came across the article Interpreting Old Family Photos as a Source of Genealogical Information. It offered some advice and suggested making up your own story of what may be happening in the photo. By looking at mannerisms and body language you can make some guesses, one is if people are related or married.

The fact is that we may never really know who’s actually in the photos.

I think the lesson for us is to try and keep our own photos in order for future generations!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Map It Out

Maps, we can’t find our destination without them. But they can also be helpful when figuring out where our ancestors lived.

Maps Assist With Genealogy Research

Maps can provide clues as to the size of town our ancestors lived, the county name and the surrounding communities. Knowing the right county can help in your search for local records.

This Atlas of Canada map compares how “Canada” as a country changed its boundaries between 1763-1949. Contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada.

This Atlas of Canada map compares how “Canada” as a country changed its boundaries between 1763-1949. Also available as a PDF file. Contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada.

Try to find historical maps from the era of your ancestors – this will show you what the different boundaries looked like at the time. Municipal and territorial lines change, so older maps could provide clues on where to find other family records.

British Isles physical map. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

British Isles physical map shows elevated areas, forests, swamps and even coalfields. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Maps can also show the terrain. Take into account the physical features of the area – mountains, rivers, lakes. Plus maps often illustrate where churches, cemeteries and schools are located. Looking at these landmarks in context of where ancestors lived may reveal other nearby towns that could store important family documents.

There are even historical land ownership maps that can show the parcel of land and who owned it. If you are fortunate enough to come across one, be sure to look around at the other names too because families may have lived close to one another. I came across an old survey map from before my grandparents owned the family farm – it contained many familiar last names from in the community.

Central Europe in 1812. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Central Europe in 1812 – a very different landscape. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

 

 

I have come across many map resources on different government and library websites. Try doing a Google search on the area you are interested in. Try searching for the city’s archive or library – they may have old records and maps available.

Here’s some more information to get you started:

 

Using Maps in Genealogical Research is an informative article about how to use maps and what kind of information you can discover.

Canadian Map Resources:

Ontario Map Resources:

World & European Maps

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Short Years

My youngest daughter turns five today.

She has been counting down the days for a week, and has been telling every person she meets that her birthday is coming up. Now, the day is finally here.

Birthday’s as a kid are so exciting – an entire day to celebrate you!

My daughter was born five years ago today. It's amazing how much they grow and change in five short years!

My daughter was born five years ago today – she has grown and changed so much in five short years!

Cake, presents, streamers and balloons – little things to show her she’s special and to mark the day she was born.

As a child you can’t wait to grow up. The days and months seem to take forever to go by. Then at some point all that changes. As we get older we better understand the concept of time. I think you really notice it when you become a parent; suddenly there never seems to be enough hours in the day, and the days and weeks quickly add up to years.

You stop counting your own age and at times even forget how old you really are! Not for kids, they have it down to the nearest fraction: “I’m seven and a half”.

Birthday’s look very different through the eyes of a child – I’m glad we get to relive these great moments once again through our own children.

Enjoy-the-little-things quote

Happy 5th Birthday Lauren!

 
Quote found at: The Gypsy Nester and made with Quozio.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 6 Comments

How Does History Fit In With Genealogy?

After you get a sense of who your family members are, and where and when they lived, you could do a little history lesson.

Understanding what was happening in their world at the time may reveal some clues and help you to gain a better sense of who these family members really were.

Look Beyond the Names

Take a look at where your relatives lived and look at the history of that community at that time to reveal the larger story of your ancestor’s lives.

What was it like for them back then? The world was a very different place 100 years ago. So many factors could have influenced where they lived, their profession and their financial situation. Things like:

  • War
  • Depression
  • Natural disasters (floods, drought)

Knowing about the different historical events going on may help to fill in some gaps, or better understand why relatives passed away young or why they moved.

I came across a really interesting video from Ancestry.com called “Putting your Ancestors’ Lives in Historical Context”. Crista Cowan provides a lot of great advice and a good reminder to look outside your family tree for clues.

It’s a lengthy video, but offers practical advice and tips to try and understand the choices your relatives made. It’s all about trying to paint a larger picture.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Golden Rules

I came across this infographic from Got Genealogy? It offers some great reminders and advice to keep in mind when researching your family history.

The reality with genealogy is that we may never have a “complete” family tree. There are always more relatives and more details to confirm. We have to do the best we can with the information we can find!

Golden Rules of Genealogy

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Key to my Childhood

Ever wonder how different your childhood would be if you had lived somewhere else?

The old farm house where I grew up - so many great childhood memories there.

The old farm house where I grew up – so many great childhood memories there.

I couldn’t imagine growing up in any other place.

I grew up in a big white farm house in the country. I have some amazing memories there: playing “house” in the closets, climbing the door frames, scaling the kitchen counters and exploring the outdoors all summer long.

We would run barefoot outside – hard gravel or soft grass – it didn’t matter.

I always thought it was the house I missed, until I came across this quote:

Childhood Home Quote

Over the years I have lived in about 14 different houses. Of them all, this one stands out as my all-time favourite; a connection to my past. Many of my childhood memories will forever be tied to this house.

Quote found at Brainy Quote
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Baking as a Family

The heavenly aroma of fresh baked bread.

My mom's family recipe - a favourite over the years.

My mom’s family recipe – a favourite over the years.

When I was little my mom made air buns. We would be her little helpers braiding the stretchy dough. Although they take half a day to make, I remember it feeling much longer as a child!

We went to my mom’s house and she taught my daughters and I how to knead the dough, and all the steps in between. It has been a long time since I made them last!

They were amazing – crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The house smelled just like a bakery.

I have fond memories of making twisty bread with my mom and I want my children to share in that experience.

If only you could have homemade bread this quickly!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments