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Get the Story Behind Your Fourth of July Old Family Photos

By Maureen A. Taylor

4th of July in old family photos
Takoma Park, Md., 1922. Library of Congress.

Symbolism abounds in old family photos taken on the Fourth of July. These three young men posed as the iconic drummers and fife player commonly seen on the Fourth of July as the trio from the song Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Search newspaper websites for events shown in photos

A search of newspapers on turned up the story of the parade in which the boys participated. In 1922, the children of the Petworth section of Takoma Park, Md., made floats and marched on the morning of the Fourth.

Independence Day celebrations varied from community to community and from region to region, many traditionally including parades, picnics and fireworks. My hometown of Providence, RI, once liked to start the festivities with cannon fire at dawn.

Other towns held chariot races, foot races, baseball games and other sporting events. Town-wide picnics were common, too.

Find the Fourth of July in Your Old Family Photos

Look for Fourth of July clues in your old family photos:

  • Try to spot the symbols mentioned above, especially children in colonial costume like this Yankee Doodle Dandy trio.
  • For those not in costume, study clothing clues to pinpoint a time frame for the photos. You can use past Photo Detective Blog posts about historical fashion trends as a resource. You can use the search box in the lower left margin of the blog, or click the category links for your decade of interest.
  • Search or browse the town’s newspapers covering Independence Day celebrations. You might be able to match up scenes in your old family photos with events in your ancestor’s community.

Happy Fourth of July!

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:


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