I was going through some old photos and newspaper clippings that my grandmother (1913-2007) left behind here in Norway, when I came across this photo of a uniformed young man. To be honest I have no idea who it is, but I know she had an uncle who was born in 1888 and went to the US in 1907 (supposedly to Wisconsin), so that might be a link.

But could anyone tell from the uniform when this was, and also where he served? I see that the button on his collar says US 48. Could it be the 48th regiment or something? How does that match with him being born in 1888.

Old photo found in shoebox in Norway

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    I've edited the title to put it in the form of a question -- this will make it more obvious what information you need when the question is shared (on Twitter, etc.).
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 0:10
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    Was the photo in any kind of enclosure? Any markings on the front or back?
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 0:11
  • No, not any enclosure of any kind. It was just laying (not fixed) inside a photo album which spanned 70-80 years, with no chronological order. There was some markings on the right side: !Uncropped
    – sylling
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 0:28
  • Search Ancestry's military records with his name that may tell you more. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 19:01
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    Hi, Robbin, welcome to G&FH.SE! It's one of the quirks of the site that new members aren't allowed to comment until they have gained some reputation. This isn't really an answer so I'm converting it to a comment for you. Feel free to explore the site, and if you have questions about how the site works, check out our companion area Genealogy & Family History Meta. Hope you enjoy the site!
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 23:10

3 Answers 3


The uniform is from the time around World War I (see, for instance, World War 1 Uniforms and US Enlisted Uniforms 1900 - 1918: Part 2: Uniform Patterns (Enlisted) Army).

The uniform style doesn't indicate the branch of the U.S. Army.

The button is called a "collar disc", and the "48" is a unit number, either a regiment or battalion depending on how the particular branch of the Army was organized.

The collar disc on his left side (barely visible) would have indicated his branch, e.g. infantry, artillery, etc.

See Dating Metallic Insignia: Collar Disks for more about collar discs.


Well, building off of Robert Shaw's answer, it appears to me that the person in the photograph is wearing a Type I unit disk, which puts the photo somewhere between 1910 and 1937.

According to both the link in Robert's answer and this document - https://history.army.mil/html/museums/uniforms/survey_uwa.pdf - the regimental number (48 in this case) was moved to the right side disk in 1917. So we know this is photo is 1917 or later. The PDF I linked also suggests that the jacket pattern changed in 1926, and the collar on the resulting uniform lies flatter and is less stiff. So I would say this photo was taken between 1917 and 1926. Unfortunately, the left side disk, which we can't see, would have shown both the company (A, B, C, etc.) and the unit type (Infantry, Engineers, Medical, etc.), which would have been useful.

However, while no means comprehensive, an internet search suggest that the only likely unit that fits this timeline is the 48th Infantry Regiment. According to this regimental history from the U.S. Army Center for Military history (https://history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/lineages/branches/inf/0048in.htm)
(which is the source of the timeline in the Wikipedia article on the unit), the regiment was organized (meaning personnel were assigned to it) on June 1, 1917 in Syracuse, NY and was demobilized on July 31, 1922. It was part of the 20th Infantry Division, which never went overseas during WWI, so unless the person in the photo transferred to another unit, it is likely that they stayed in the U.S. during WWI.

So my best guess is that the person depicted belonged to the 48th Infantry Regiment, 20th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, and that the photo was taken between June 1917 and July 1922, somewhere in the U.S. If you can find a muster roll for the regiment during that period (there should be around 3700 soldiers in a U.S. Army regiment in the "square division" system of WWI), you might be able to see if any of the names seem familiar.

  • What source does the Wikipedia article cite for the information you included in your answer? Wikipedia can be quite useful if you follow the links back to the source material used to write the entry. You could improve your answer by including that source in your answer, noting that you discovered it via the Wikipedia article.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 21:51
  • That's an excellent point, and, as it happens, quite easy in this case.
    – Jack
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 2:14

As part of your question, you asked:

How does that match with him being born in 1888?

Researchers can use these guides to line up a birth year with wars a service member might have been in:

For WWI specifically:

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