Maureen Taylor, “Family Photographs: Identifying, Preserving, and Sharing Your Visual Heritage”

“Family Photographs: Identifying, Preserving, and Sharing Your Visual Heritage”

Maureen Taylor


Family photograph collections come in all sizes and shapes. It’s possible that a single photo can unlock a genealogical mystery if you know what to look for and how to examine the evidence. Taking care of those precious images is simple if you understand the do’s and don’ts of photo care and storage. It’s natural to want to share what you’ve learned about your family history including your pictures, but it’s important to be aware of how to share images on the internet and the best places to do so. This course introduces basic photo identification from types of pictures to fashion clues as well as common sense photo preservation strategies. The final lecture explores websites for joining the online photo community.

After this final session, we’ll discuss your assignment.  Can’t wait to see what you’ve found!

Maureen Taylor is an internationally recognized expert on historic photograph identification, photo preservation and family history research. Her focus is on helping people rediscover their family history one picture at a time, and is passionate about getting folks to dig deep into their family history to tell the story of their ancestors. The author of several books, scholarly articles and online columns, she appeared on The View and The Today Show for completing Meredith Viera’s family tree. She has been featured in numerous publications including The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, and was dubbed “the nation’s foremost historical photo detective” by The Wall Street Journal.

Course Schedule

Day 1

  • Lecture 1: “Basic Photo Identification and Interpretation”: Learn to identify photographic formats from daguerreotypes through twentieth century methods, new techniques to research photographers and how to add up the clues to tell the story of an image.
  • Lecture 2: “Fashion Facts and Foibles: Reading Clothing Clues”: Every fashion era had its distinctive styles from fanciful to functional. Your ancestral fashion choices can tell you about their religious beliefs, political leanings and if they were conservative or bohemian.

Day 2

  • Lecture 3: “Photo Preservation: Caring for Images”: Each picture has a life from the day an ancestor posed for it today.  The signs of damage tell you about its living conditions and provide you with steps to take to preserve it for the future. All you need to know to identify damage, stop it and reverse it is covered in this session.
  • Lecture 4: “Collaborative Family History: Online Image Sharing”: We’re a nation of picture posters from present-day selfies to scans of historical images, but before you begin putting your heritage online it’s important to follow some common-sense rules. There are sites that can jump-start by enabling you to collaborate with cousins in privacy rather than public forums.


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