Tag: genealogy

UnIdentified Family Photos: Steps to become a detective

Become a detective

If you KNOW who this is please contact me!
Most likely a McCollum, Green, or Kopsa

If you’ve been at the search for long you have undoubtly collected boxes of pictures along the way. Most online history software lets you upload your pictures to the tree. Having a picture to put with your ancestors profile in the tree helps to bring them to life and gives you a feeling of knowing them just a little better. But what happens when someone forgot to put a name or date on the back of the photo? Now you get to spend hours trying to find who it is in that Photo and take to step to becaome a detective to unravel the mystery.

Finding historical photos is easier now than ever. Some of the same websites you’ve searched for genealogy information also have databases of old photos contributed by members—some of whom may be your distant cousins. Local historical societies, state archives and similar organizations, realize  the power of pictures and are placing digitized historical photos and illustrations in online collections. Photo-sharing sites encourage folks to post photos of all ages.

FACEBOOK

There are all kinds of groups geared towards genealogy on facebook, and they are easy to join. Just click the join button and answer a few questions and vola! There are groups that help restore the pictures, some for free. There are groups to help you in your searches. I have met many a cousin from the same family lines in these groups. There are groups where you can upload your pictures to ask for help in identifying ancestor and there are groups looking for family members of lost family photos. Actually, facebook has a group for just about anything these days.

“A photo is a window into the lives of your ancestors.”

There are several sites that have to do with identifying and finding lost photos. Most of your major genealogy sites have archives of photos shared by others. By doing a simple keyword search of the surname you are looking for might get you your desired result. Some also allow you to upload photos you many have to the site to share with others or find help in identifying photos that have lost their names.

Ancient Faces                                                           The National Archives

Dead Fred                                                                   The Library of Congress

Ancestry

Family Search

My Heritage

Digital Public Library of America

Denver Public Library

Flickr

The Ancestry Hunt

The Ancestry Hunt has a huge list of places to search right down to the state that your ancestor may have lived.

ALWAYS REMEMBER

Copyright Considerations for Using Online Images

Finding an online photo of your ancestor or his house is exciting especially if it’s someone you’ve been searching for for years, but pause before you drag it to your desktop or right-click to copy it. How you’re permitted to use it depends when the image was taken, who took it, and what repository now owns the physical image, but most genealogist are willing to share. I for one love to share my information but sometimes it is disheartening to see that it’s being shared in others trees with no mention of the one who originally shared it.
Most photos taken before 1923 are in the public domain, although a library or museum may own the original and license its use so be careful. When searching a repository’s image collection, look for information about usage or rights and reproductions. For example, many institutions allow you to download an image for research or personal use (such as to keep in your genealogy files or include in a family album), but require a licensing fee for publishing it (such as in a family history book or on a website). If you’re in doubt,  always write to the institution for to be sure. Always acknowledge the source of the image, even if there are no usage restrictions and give credit where credit is due.
Images taken by government agencies, such as the Farm Security Administration, are usually OK to use as you see fit; check the online image details for confirmation.
Practice courtesy and caution when you find an ancestral image someone has attached to his or her online family tree. Before you use the image in a book, on your blog or website, or elsewhere, contact the contributor for permission. Thank the person and credit him with source. But remember that the submitter may have gotten the photo somewhere else, possibly without regard for its source or copyright status. Try to find out where it came from, and alter your plans to use it if necessary.
  • Google gives you a photo search tool in Google Image Search. Type your search terms as you would for any web search, and Google will find images from web pages that contain those terms.
  • Don’t overlook old newspapers as another potential source of ancestor photos. A graduation announcement, profile article or obituary might have included a picture.
  • Browse street and building photos on websites such as HistoryPin and WhatWasThere, which let you look for images “pinned” to locations on a map. This is a really cool site that ties historical photos to google maps. I especially like this as I am not satisfied with just a name and date. I want to go where my ancestors have gone before me and visit the places they frequented. It give me a sense of belonging. Here you might find a picture of your ancestors house, or farm. It’s really cool. Check it out.

For more information on copyright and online photos, see the chart on the Cornell University website and study the Copyright category of the Legal Genealogist blog by Judy G. Russell.

 

Langdon’s List

Margaret Cain Family

 

Is an good place to find information about photographers which can help you in dating photo’s you may have questions about. They also offer for a fee a Comparison Service that might help you solve a mystery to an unidentified photo.

Tineye

Offers a reverse search for finding your ancestor. Upload an image and search the database for likely matches. TinEye constantly crawls the web and adds tens of millions of new images to the TinEye index every month Try it …it’s sorta cool.

ASK A COUSIN

If you have a photo you can’t identify or place…ask a cousin or family member. They might just know something you don’t or might have the same picture in their collection. Two heads are better than one when trying to solve a mystery. Recently I was updating my files and came across a folder of unidentifed pictures that I had not a clue as to where they belonged. I have a group on facebook of all my cousins and I posted the pictures there for help and was able to find several of them simply by sharing with cousins.

Youtube.com is a good place to find videos that will help you in restoring old photos and dating them as well. Pinrtest also is a good source for this.

 

I hope this gives ya a little insight in where to hunt!

As always Happy Hunting! and don’t forget to leave me a little comment! I love hearing from ya!

The Pierce Family Historian

 

 

Research the Origin of your Surname

When  you first begin your family genealogy you might find it extremely helpful along the way if you first do a quick research for the origin of your surname. In your search you will be starting with yourself and working backwards and in doing so you will gain surnames for each generation as you go back, so having a little knowledge of surname origins can and will be a big help in your research.

Your last name is commonly referred to as your SURNAME. Your first name is referenced as your GIVEN name, and of course you have your MIDDLE name.  You will gain a surname for your mother’s maiden name, your grandmother’s maiden name and so on. A quick research of the origin of that name can tell you where you evolved from in a sense.

     Family tree research is one giant step backwards and one giant step forward—usually at the same time.

My maiden name is PIERCE.  Pierce is an English surname from  the established name Peter, which in medieval England was found as PIERS. Peter come from the Greek word “PETRO” which means “rock”. PIERS is the French version brought by the Normans in 1066 at the time of the Conquest.

From this bit of information I know that the name originated in England. Are all PIERCE’s English. NO! But it is a good assumption, and as to how far back one might have to go to get there is unknown to me at this point.  I merely had to go back to the 1600’s to find my George PIERCE that was born in England. I haven’t gone farther back than that to find if they had been somewhere else first. Family says there was some Irish in there somewhere.

There are as many as 16 versions of the PIERCE name,

PIERCE   PEARCE  PIERS  PEERS  PERES  PERSE  PEERZ                         

just to name a few.  Being able to recognize the variances you will more likely be able to spot a record that you might bypass otherwise, as in many census and military records you will find  have variations in spellings. There are several reasons for this.

  1. your ancestor may not have been able to read or write.
  2.  the census taker spelled it to their interpretation.
  3. the transcriber may not have been able to make out the name and took a wild guess.
  4.  generations back people weren’t as particular about a spelling as we are today. (probably because of the reasons mentioned above.)
  5. Immigrants often times changed the spelling or shortened their names in order to become more “American”.
  6. Many times immigrants did not know the English version and the immigration officer would record it incorrectly.
  7. It could be that the person giving the information didn’t know the correct spelling.
  8. Many of the records are sent over seas to India and such to be transcribed and it could just be a failure on their part to get it correct.

We are human. We make mistakes.

       “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” —Mark Twain

Only four generations back in the PIERCE family tree we find that one half of the family changed their name to the spelling PEIRCE. We believe because the father, MOSES had two families and the second family wanted to associate separately from the first, but that is just and assumption.

While searching for my fourth great grandfather, Adam SHAVER I found several instances where variant spellings came to play. SHAFFER and SHAVEN just to name a couple.  So in searching records don’t overlook the possibility of finding lots of differences.

Surnames became necessary in the 13th century when governments introduced  personal taxation. They originated to help identify people. Centuries ago when the world was less populated people would be referred to has John, or Fredrick. Everyone knew their neighbors and friends, and where they lived, what their occupations were, etc., people did not so readily move, and families lived in close proximity to each other. Therefore, for example, if John had a son down the lane, he might be referred to as Johnson. This would be considered a patronymic name. In most regions and time periods, surnames were assumed based on descent from your male ancestor (generally the father). A matronymic surname would be that deriving from the mother. Use of the mother’s surname is usually due to some circumstance such as  illegitimacy,  inheritance etc., though in some regions culture dictated the use of the mother’s surname. Or perhaps, Joe made pottery. He could have earned the name Joe Potter. They call this an occupational name. I have lot’s of Miller’s in my family. A Miller was someone who ground grain, this is Mueller in German, therefore we also have Mueller’s in the family.  Get the picture?

  • “Genealogy: An account of one’s descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.” —Ambrose Bierce

In many countries, the use of hereditary surnames began with the nobility who often called themselves after their ancestral seats. It wasn’t until the 1500s that surnames became widely inherited and no longer referred to a person’s appearance, job, or place of residence. Perhaps the caveman method would have made it easier for us as genealogist had we had something to go by.  When searching for William Robert GREEN, it would sure be nice to have an occupation or dwelling to go off of if you have no other information. Believe me, I KNOW!

In conclusion, I highly recommend with each new surname you start with a little research.  A few moments to do a little study on the name and it’s origin and the different derivatives of the names and variations of spelling could save you a lot of time and headache down the road as you search. You will come across records that will make you shake your head in wonder.  A little more research and  you might just also learn a good little bit about that special ancestor before you even start your search. Knowing the origin of your name puts you just a little bit closer to who you are and where you came from and what has gone before you.

It’s a feeling only another family historian could explain.

Happy Hunting!

 

 

 

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