In our recent discussion about our mystery girl, Maureen Taylor, the family ancestry and photo expert, called “the photo detective” told me that an important clue to unlocking the secret of your family pictures is to look at where they came from.
If the picture of our girl was stored with group of photos, she said, there might be other images of the girl and the ship she sailed on…or there might be pictures containing other clues.
I was intrigued when Maureen said, “Look at the back of a picture for clues to its origin. Every picture has two sides.” Good advice in life, as in ancestry hunts. We tend to ignore the backs of pictures and don’t even see them as we often find them pasted into old photo albums. My own family pictures pried from the backs of these old albums have place names and other infomation written across the back. Some of these pictures are still very mysterious to me. They don’t look like any family members I know.
I asked Maureen about these images and she told me that families often collected and stored images of friends as well as family. ”Just because you have an image in your family photo album doesn’t mean you’re related to that person.”
So it is possible that you might have images of our mystery girl in your family archives because your own family knew hers. In my grandfather’s Ellis Island records, his listing comes directly after similar listings of families arriving from the same place–Austria. I remember my mother telling me that these families bonded on the journey and stayed close through the years. So even if you are not related to our mystery girl, your family photo album might contain an image of her with a vital clue written across the back.
If you’re like me and totally fascinated by the topic, check out Maureen’s website and follow her on Twitter @photodetective. She also has a wealth of information on tracking your own family images at amazon.com.
And remember, you don’t have to find our girl’s identity to win a trip to Antwerp and a $1,000 shopping trip to Diane Von Furstenberg’s boutique. You simply have to answer our quiz questions correctly and enter our essay portion of the contest, coming soon.
Hang in there all you amateur photo detectives. Our picture has already yielded a thousands words–I’m sure she has a lot more to say!