KwikTips from

Gary Clark, author of Photo Restoration KwikGuide and owner of, has produced a new set of guides, called KwikTips, to help researchers identify and date 19th century family photos. Use these guides to identify an image type and an approximate the date of its production.

Knowing how to type and date a photograph is a key genealogical research tool. Many family heirlooms, such as photos, are generations old but lack a proper connection with current family information. Pictures contain important clues. For example, a picture may offer a person’s name but not when the photo was taken. Using the clues covered in these KwikGuides, any genealogist can make a reasonable guess as to the when the photo was taken.

Currently there are three guides, as follows:

Guide 1: Daguerreotype, Ambrotype, Tintype

Side one covers daguerreotype and ambrotype photos. Years of introduction and use in their various styles and formats are included. There is also a section on cased photos: commonly folding wood or thermoplastic boxes encasing a photograph. Side two examines tintypes from introduction in 1854 until 1900.

Guide 2: Carte de Visite and Cabinet Cards

Like the title says, one side covers carte de visites (CDVs) and the other cabinet cards. Both ran from about 1860 to near the end of the century. Both featured different style changes over time. The examples are great at showing the differences.

Guide 3: Imprints: The Front and Back of CDVs and Cabinet Cards

This third guide covers the back sides of the two card types featured in the second guide. There was quite a variety of over the years, but most cards followed a pattern that helps identify in what years range they were printed.

Each guide is a single, laminated, color page designed to easily carry around or quickly pull out when needed. The guides are formatted for ease of use. Examples are in color, which may sound odd as most photos are in black and white. However, many photos were hand tinted as well as coming in colored frames or on painted background. In addition to examples, tables are easy to read, and text is clear and concise.

Each is available from Family Roots Publishing; just click the links below for each card:

2 thoughts on “KwikTips from

  1. To date the photo according to its form — that’s very interesting idea. But it is not better or easier than dating photo according to clothes of depicted persons and their fashion. Moreover learning some basics of fashion history can provide far more interesting conclusions regarding depicted persons, not just date.
    Kind regards

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