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Analyze This
Identify the mystery faces in your old family photos with these five secrets from our expert photo sleuth.

Do you have boxes of unidentified family photos? You're not alone. In the three years since I began writing the Identifying Family Photographs online column for Family Tree Magazine, hundreds of readers have submitted images for analysis, Some seek clues to identify the people in their pictures, while others want historical information to flesh out the stories of their photo collections. Way back when, our ancestors could put a name to each face in those pictures. But either they didn't take the time to caption them, or the labels have worn away over the years. Now, it's up to us to identify those mystery people and label our photographs for future generations.

So how do you identify that mystery baby in your great-grand mother's photo album? Solving a picture puzzle requires not only knowledge of family history, but also the ability to recognize and interpret identifying clues, such as the subjects' clothing and hairstyles, the type of photograph and the photographer's imprint. Some of these clues will help you date the image, while others will add color to the photograph's story. It's not always possible to identify each person — there may be missing genealogical information or insufficient photographic evidence — but you won't know that until you start examining your pictures.

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