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Identifying People in Family Photo Albums

Biff Barnes

Recently a reader, Jim Saunders, posed a question in a comment on one of our blog posts titled Identifying People in Old Family Photographs. Jim said, “I have an old photo album dated from 1887. I don't know very many of the people in the photo album, but I know most of the pictures are family members. Is there a website out there where one could post a picture or two. This way viewers could comment on dating, identifying what type of occasion might have triggered the picture to be taken and and help identifying who might be in them.”

It’s taken a little research time during which I didn’t find a short answer to Jim’s question, but I would like to offer a few possible routes to pursue.

First, let’s look at some possible sources.’s article Identifying and Preserving Family Photos offers some useful links. As with all things family history Cyndi’s List is the gold standard concerning resources. I would suggest looking at two lists on Cyndi’s site, Photographs and Memories: General Resources and

Lost & Found: Photos and Photo Albums.


Next, you might want to consider seeking help from a person like Maureen Taylor called the “Nation’s foremost photo detective,’ by the Wall Street Journal. Her website is at and her blog is at Taylor offers some advice on how to identify people an article titled Photo Detective: Finding More Photos and a guide, Best of the Photo Detective.

A final thought involves social media. Crowd sourcing problems has proven increasingly successful. I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone how to go about it, but I’ll bet  Carole Riley,  at Social Media and Genealogy would have some ideas on how to do it. I’d try contacting her.

If you have ideas on other things Jim might try, please leave a comment!


While we’re on the subject of photographs I want to pass along a comment I recently received from Mitch Goldstone of whom we mentioned in another recent post The Pros and Cons of Photo Scanning Services. He wrote, “Thanks for your recent profile on bulk photo scanning services. We agree with you that customers should be provided with choices for standard 300 DPI and higher 600 DPI scanning. Therefore, now provides both services, with super affordable le rates and same day completion.”