Coweta County Genealogical Society

Pendleton shares expertise on dating photos

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Angela Pendleton gives tips on dating old photogaphs during her talk at the Coweta County Genealogical Society research center in Grantville.

Angela Pendleton began collecting old photographs a long time ago.

Soon her 'hobby' became more than that as she began to research - trying to identify people in old photos who she thought were part of her family. She has become quite an expert, and spoke to the Coweta County Genealogical Society at its quarterly public meeting about using dress of men and women to date photographs and then try to find family who would be living at that time.

Knowing the number of children at the time in a family portrait also helps. Pendleton examines hats, suits, dresses and more in her photographic sleuthing.

Speaking at the CCGS research library in Grantville, Pendleton gave a brief history of the types of photographs and the dates they were popular as well. Daguerreotypes were made from 1839-1860, peeking in popularity in 1852-1854. They are unique images and no exact copies could be made. They have a shiny reflective surface and are mirrors with memory being silver on copper plates.

Sometimes they were colored or tinted.

Ambrotypes were taken 1854-1865, peaking in popularity 1857-1859. They, too, are unique images.

They are a negative image on glass with black paint or material on the back of the glass. These are breakable.

Tintypes were most popular in America and were taken 1856-1867 being most popular from 1860-1867. An image was produced on an iron plate with black Japan varnish on back. They were cut with tinsnips. The images are always black and gray and are lackluster compared to the earlier types.

They are also magnetic and cheap so a lot were made.

Albumen prints were around from 1850-1910. They were produced on paper coated with egg whites and mounted on cardboard. Found now, they are usually faded and yellowing.

Carte de viste photography was done from 1854-1910. They, too, are albumen prints and small, 2 ½ by 3 ½ inches. They were used as calling cards. Like baseball cards today, our ancestors collected carte de viste of famous people.

Cabinet Cards were similar to carte de vista but were larger and produced in pairs. They often had elaborate backgrounds and sets.

Pendleton talked about other things which can be used to help identify the time frame of pictures. Hairdos and cut of a man's beard could help date them. The architecture of furniture or a flag in a picture might help.

If there is an empty chair in a family photo, it generally symbolized a person who had died and can also help date the image. Pendleton said she uses two books, 'Dressed for the Photographs' and 'Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photos,' as references.

She also said DeadFred.com, Cyndi'slist.com, and Legacyarchival. com are useful Internet sources to use.

After questions and answers, one being why don't people ever smile in the old photographs, she helped those present who brought unidentified photographs determine an 'about date.' The reason people did not smile in long ago photographs was they had to hold still for 5-10 seconds and it is hard to hold a smile that long.



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