My husband and I, and our siblings, are now the oldest generation in our families. We have photos which have been discovered or have come down to us when our parents died. I have another friend who is younger than me who is in the same situation; she is researching her mother-in-law's family. What can we do to identify the people in the photos?
Here's what I've considered so far:
- Step 1: Try to date the photos. (There are many resources on the net about how to do this, including related questions here on SE, and my friend and I have already discussed this pretty thoroughly.)
- Step 2: Try to determine where the photos were taken, if not already known. In some cases, I might be able to figure out candidates in the photos by checking known addresses of relatives against Google Street View.
- Step 3: Look for more distant cousins who might have other pictures to compare against.
- Step 4: Compare photos to other photos found online (yearbook collections, photos posted on Ancestry trees, newspaper photos, Dead Fred, Lost Faces, etc).
I haven't experimented with facial recognition software, so I don't know how effective that might be. One especially challenging case -- my husband's family has a set of twins. I don't know if they are identicals or fraternals.
If we were in our parents' hometown (sadly, we aren't) we could:
- ask mom's neighbors, members of her church, or any related societies she might have belonged to (One might be able to find mom's neighbors from the period in the photos from city directories or the 1940 Census. Obituaries can list social clubs -- my aunt's obituary is a masterpiece of genealogical writing in that respect.)
- attend her school's reunion
- ask lodge members, if any of the relatives were members
- ask people in the same military unit, for relatives who were veterans
- attend meetings of the local historical society or genealogical society
- look for other photos in local libraries and local archives
Note: Several of these helpful suggestions for finding local people to consult came from @Canadian Girl Scout in today's weekly chat.
Are there other obvious things I've missed?
Looking for houses and identifiable landmarks seems like a good place to start for the city photos, but I don't know what to do about the photos taken in a rural setting. I'd especially welcome suggestions there for my friend in the Midwest. @Canadian Girl Scout suggested agricultural societies as one possibility.