Friday, July 19, 2019

Get busy and label those photos

Photo 1
The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “challenging.”

Do you have old photos that you don’t know who the people are? I know I’m not the only person who has photo albums and boxes of unlabeled photos, as well as folders with unlabeled digital photos on my computer. Yes, I have my share, which brings me to the two things I find most challenging about genealogy.

My first challenge is trying to figure out who these unknown people are. I periodically post “lost relative” photos hoping that another researcher will stumble on them and recognize someone. I haven’t had much luck with that but I’m not letting that stop me from trying again (see below). I have also compared labeled and unlabeled photos and been able to identify a few people that way. Sometimes you just need to slow down and take a good look to see what clues you’ve been missing. My second challenge is labeling the unlabeled photos. I’ve got a good start on sorting photos but now they’re waiting on me to label them. I’ve told myself many times to just start doing it—label five photos a day and before you know it, they’re all done. It’s been on my mind for several years now but do you think I’ve done anything about it? No, I haven’t and I need to fix that.

The photos below are some of those lost relatives. Several years ago, a George family cousin shared a bunch of photos with a group researching either our Hobbs or Lankford ancestors (I can’t remember which family line, but they interconnect). These photos, along with many more, once belonged to his aunt, Willie Marion George, of Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. Many of the photos were labeled and turned out to be people from Penfield. Some were in my family tree; others were apparently friends of Marion’s. It even turned out he had photos of my great-grandmother Alice Beman Lankford, who I already had a photo of but he also had photos of two of her sisters, Julia Lee Lankford and Jessica Corinne Lankford, whom I’d never seen before. It was exciting!

The photos included in this blog post are some of the unlabeled photos from Marion’s collection. Photo 1 above has a few clues as someone wrote the following on the back: Mother and Father and all the girls but Daisy, Tommie’s little girl and Rena’s little girl. June 1918.

Back of photo 1

The only clue for photo 2 is the year penciled in the top left corner—1935.

Photo 2

Did the man in photo 3 live in Atlanta or Penfield? Whatever the case, he had his picture taken at the Atlanta Photo Company located at 40 ½ Whitehall Street.

Photo 3

I could ask the same question about this boy in photo 4 who had his picture taken at Randall’s located at 75 ½ Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo 4

It looks like the photographer that took this woman’s picture in photo 5 was named A. O. Best and was located on Cotton Avenue in Macon, Georgia.

Photo 5

And no clues at all for photos 6 and 7.

Photo 6
Photo 7

If you can identify anyone in the above photos, I’d love to hear from you.

Every August, I decide on one or two genealogy projects for myself and then dedicate one week to working on them. That’s how I got through digitizing over 6,000 slides several years ago. It sure felt good when I completed that project too! So, I think I’ve just set that goal for myself next month. I’m not saying I’ll finish it, but I’ll definitely make the effort! What works for you? How do you tackle these challenges?


  1. My mind was working out a challenging picture this week. I'll go label some photos now for the next generation.

    1. It's one of those tasks that you literally have to force yourself to do, isn't it! Thanks for reading.

  2. I agree with you that it can be very frustrating not knowing. Last Winter I took on the task of going through the huge amount of photos that I am the keeper of. I began by separating them by "family member". Once that was done I then went through each and began the labeling process of those that I knew. The ones that I didn't again was separated. At that point I had to enlist the help of family members. Not all were identified but for the most part they are. I then made the decision to give photos to family members that they should go to. Some were seeing their relatives in their younger years. It was very rewarding for me and certainly dwindled my "load". It also brought back so many memories of days gone by and inspired me to "hunt down" my past. All this took about 20 hours and was a great Winter project.

  3. I made it a summer project several years ago to sort my photos and get them in acid free sleeves. Got through most of it but still have a small box left. Now I need to get busy on labeling (and practice what I preach). I hope you made digital copies of the photos you gave away!