Dating pictures by clothing
You need to research every photographic clue and follow the leads to uncover the truth that is usually hidden in the elements of the photograph. Photographs offer many clues about ancestral lives, if you know what to look for. Then, using a magnifying glass, sweep across the image making notes of any details.For instance, in a portrait, pay attention to accessories and props.
Wealthy subjects had many fashionable ensembles to choose from, whereas ordinary working-class ancestors usually donned their best outfit, kept for church on Sundays and special occasions.See the list of Ten People All Genealogists Should Follow On Twitter Janie Riley is an avid genealogist with a habit of stumbling on to dead bodies.She and her husband head to Salt Lake City Utah to research Janie's elusive 4th great-grandmother.Despite my absolute fashion stupidity, I'll try to point out a few main trends in adult fashions here. 1840's Women's fashions consisted of floor length dresses with bell-shaped skirts over many layers of thick petticoats, and very constrictive corset, giving a flattened and upward spreading bustline.Sleeves tended to be narrow, the bodice long and tight, and almost always closing in the back.For more detailed info, see the book -- if you can understand the fashion jargon! the long point and tapered scalloped bretelles of her bodice ..." or " ...
white undersleeves with frilled manchettes, ..." and "...
Perhaps this section should be called "personal adornment" since it includes hair styles and jewelery in addition to clothing.
Anne Foster of the Sharlot Hall Museum suggested the book "Dressed for the Photographer" by Joan Severa as a good reference for this type of information.
If so, you can begin to date the photograph to the turn of the century by researching the types of items people used during that time period.
A good way to learn when a photo was taken is by dating photographs by clothing.
Since few people can identify all clues in the picture, assigning a date will probably require a trip to the reference department of a large public or academic library.