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I am searching for my biological mother. I was born in August 1963 in London, UK. I have found a possible half-sister through Ancestry.com.ca and she has sent me some photos. This person does not look pregnant - especially 8 months!!! So was wondering about the photo dating process in the 1960s. Can anyone hep please?

  • Is there anything on the back of the photo which might indicate the company, location of the processing? I have many photos from that time and do not recall ever seeing one with the date on the front.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 5:00
  • Hi PolyGeo I don't actually have the photo - I have asked my (possible) half-sister in the US to have a look at the photo for details. Photo was taken in Scotland - so may have been processed there or in the UK? Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 9:12
  • Silly question, perhaps, but are you sure the photo was taken in Scotland? I know there's a bagpiper, but I thought most Scottish stations have raised platforms - the photo looks more like ground level. And the CN logo on the box/step looks like the Canadian National Railway.
    – AndyW
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 22:18

2 Answers 2


There are three possible relevant dates, but only one is likely, given the technology used back then.

  1. In the 1960s, there was no technology to date a photograph when it was taken (other than the subject of the photograph holding up a piece of paper with the date on).

  2. Likewise, when the photograph was developed into a negative, it would not have been possible to introduce a date actually on the negative (except maybe by scratching it in, which isn't the case here).

  3. So the date on your photograph was almost certainly added when a print was made from the negative (especially as it's on the border of the print rather than the negative itself) -- which could have been immediately after the photograph was taken or months or even years afterwards. And the date could be the date the print was made, or (I believe less likely) a date specifying when the photograph was taken.

You might get a better answer on http://photo.stackexchange.com

  • 1
    I agree with this -- any date in the white border of the print itself was made when the print was developed.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 19:52
  • 2
    Yes, border month-year stamps of that form are the date of printing, which most often is also the date of developing of the source film. This is likely to be 1-6 months after exposure, but can be much longer depending on personal habits and circumstances. In any case, the date is the latest month the photo could have been taken.
    – RobertShaw
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 21:47

The answers 1 and 2 above are correct. As a previous answer suggested, the CN logo on the step in the photo is that of the CNR (Canadian National Railway). This scheme was adopted in 1961 so would have been seen system-wide in 1963. The piper could have been at any CN station in Canada, but may have been more likely at one in Nova Scotia, since there's a strong Scottish tradition in that province. If it can be determined which province the photo was taken in, possibly from knowing the travels in the early 1960s of the subject woman, it may be possible to find CN timetables for that region from the time period and further refine the location.

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