Family Photo Detective: Learn how to find Genealogy Clues in old photos and solve Family Photo Mysteries

mt06Maureen A. Taylor is know throughout the world as an expert on photo identification in the world. She is also an avid genealogist. Taylor uses her vast knowledge of photography in her research, and for years has been helping fellow genealogists do the same. She has many popular titles on key points of photo identification, including:

Now, Taylor has compiled her collective knowledge into a single comprehensive volume, Family Photo Detective: Learn how to find Genealogy Clues in old photos and solve Family Photo Mysteries. This new full-color book cover just about every aspect of photo identification, including the following skills:

  • identifying image type, from daguerreotypes to common paper prints and even stereographs
  • identifying and dating photos by clothing, accessories, and hairstyles
  • following photographer’s imprints
  • using facial features across multiple photographs to identify family traits and members
  • using interviews to gather more information
  • using photo content beyond the people to create context for an image

This well designed book is easy to follow and full of exceptional examples, charts, timelines, case studies, and resource lists to help the genealogist build all the skill sets needed to identify and date all types of photos as accurately as possible. This new book may well become the standard for those looking to become family photo detectives. See for yourself all this book covers in the contents listed below.

About the Author

“Maureen A. Taylor is an internationally known photo identification expert and genealogist. She travels extensively lecturing on photo identification, photo reservation and family history. She is a contributing editor to Family Tree Magazine and has written the Photo Detective blog since 2001. She is the autor of Preserving Your Family Photographs and the Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation. She has appeared on The Today Show, The View, and MSNBC.”


Taylor’s new book, Family Photo Detective: Learn how to find Genealogy Clues in old photos and solve Family Photo Mysteries, is available from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $25.47.




1. Bringing the Past to Life

  • Compiling a Visual History
  • How to Get Started
  • Identification Tips
  • Case Study: More Than Meets the Eye
  • Draw Conclusions

2. Talking with Relatives

  • The Interview Process
  • Case Study: The Power of Persistence
  • Case Study: The Bessette Family
  • Case Study: Tall Tales and True Stories

3. Cased Images: Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Tintypes

  • Daguerreotypes
  • Ambrotypes
  • tintypes
  • Case Study: Meal Mysteries
  • How to Identify a Cased Image
  • Dating a Cased Image
  • Case Study: Dating Cases

4. Paper Prints and Negatives

  • Talbotypes: The First Paper Prints
  • Card Photographs
  • Stereographs
  • Candid Photography
  • Case Study: Not in the Family
  • Dating Paper Prints
  • Dating Portraits
  • Dating the Card Stock of Stereographs
  • Other Dating Clues
  • Negatives
  • Other Photographic Formats

5. Color and Digital Photographs

  • Hand-coloring
  • Case Study: Wedding Album
  • Retouching
  • Color Photography
  • Polaroid
  • Digital Photographs

6. Identifying the Photographer

  • Photographer’s Imprint
  • Researching a Photographer
  • Case Study: Tracking the Manchester Brothers
  • Online Help
  • Case Study: Which is the Original?

7. Images From Birth to Death

  • Chidren
  • School
  • Weddings
  • Military Service
  • Case Study: Barker Cotton Mill School
  • Holidays
  • Religious Occasions
  • Vacations and Recreation
  • Postmortem

8. Looking for Clues

  • Family Resemblence
  • Case Study: A Family Resemblence
  • Case Study: Celebrity Look-Alike
  • Props and Backdrops
  • Case Study: Star Signs
  • Internal Information
  • Case Study: The Curiosity Shop
  • Case Study: Examining the Front and Back of an Image
  • Case Study: Internal Details
  • Finding Answers
  • Public Libraries
  • Special Libraries
  • Research Resources Online
  • Building a Home Library

9. Identifying Costume

  • Women’s Fashions
  • Men’s Fashions
  • Resources for Costume Dating
  • Case Study: Alice McDuff

10. Reading the Clues in Photographs

  • Matrimonial Images
  • Military Images
  • Case Study: Civil War Views
  • Finding New Pictures
  • Immigrant Images
  • Foreign Lands
  • Magnifying the Details
  • Case Study: A Mystery at Sea
  • Comparing Pictures
  • Following the Trail
  • Documentary Evidence
  • Case Study: Links to La Familia

11 Photograph Albums

  • Case Study: Family Photo Album

12 Adding up the Clues

  • Family First
  • Format Focus
  • Ancestral Fashionistas
  • Family Complexities
  • Don’t Jump to Conclusions
  • Case Study: Mysterious Ladies
  • Photo Reunion Sites
  • Online Success
  • Case Study: Civil War Made Easy
  • Case Study: Bridging the Past
  • Case Study: Celebrate the Details to Discover the Story
  • Case Study: A Family Photo Mystery Remains


  • Labeling Your Images
  • Worksheet: Cased Images
  • Worksheet: Prints
  • Worksheet: Negatives
  • Worksheet: Prints (Group Shots)
  • Key to Worksheets
  • Important Addresses
  • Index

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