We have many photos at the Shepparton Heritage Centre which are classified "unknown" as there is no information on the reverse to help us name them.
If you would like to help us identify features, people, historic clues etc we have a page devoted to that purpose with hi-res images to download and look at them more closely. Check back on this page from time to time as we will add more photos.
Looking for clues
Examine the secondary elements of the photo such as writing/signs, buildings, background objects, people, their clothing, hairstyles, pets, or props etc.
1) Identify a photograph by clothing
Clothing makes identifying a time period easier. For example, when it comes to women’s clothing.
There are some general things to look for when you’re studying 20th century fashion trends. Skirts in the 20th century started out floor length. Then by World War I, they were a little bit above the ankle. Then in the 1920s, they’re the shortest they are before the 1960s. They’re right below the knee. And then in the thirties, they get long again. In the forties, they’re long—calf length.”
The 20th century is also when the middle-class starts wearing casual wear. While the wealthy began having distinct outfits based on what they were doing before this time (horseback riding, tennis, etc.), sportswear and casualwear are new in the 20th century.
2) Identify a photograph by hairstyle
Hairstyles for women, according to Taylor, “[go] short, then [get] longer mid-century. But when women get the vote in 1920, women start cutting off their hair.”
Look at the people in your photo. If the photo is of a woman, ask yourself, “Is her hair parted in the middle? On the side? Is it tight in a bun? Is the bun further back on the head or right at the top?”
Like the movie stars of today, it may be a good idea to find out how and when royalty, magazines, and television were influencing hair trends.
3) Identify a photograph by who took it.
In the 20th century, amateur cameras became incredibly popular. They were originally targeted to little boys, and they sold 250,000 of them in one year. Up to this point, men were the photographers for the 90 percent of [photographs]. And then [they] sold so well to kids, little boys primarily, that Kodak decided that maybe women could be photographers. And they developed a whole line of cameras in color—blue cameras, red cameras, pink cameras—to attract women to take the family photographs.”
Snapshots are spontaneous and awkward. They’re not formal. It’s basically the amateur as a professional.
People still went to studios for important milestones. The photo studio didn’t go out of business. And in fact, snapshots influence studio portraits. So at some point, you start to see children in studios without shoes on. Because in the back yard, they’re out there playing without shoes, and the studios are trying desperately to stay in business with the snapshots.
If it was a studio, see if you can find the photographer’s name embossed somewhere on the photograph. City directories, archives, or Googling it can tell you how long that photographer was in business, which gives you a good way to pinpoint a year range for your photo.
(Information from RootsTech website)
Do you have any unknown local photos? Use this form to send them to us with any info you may have.
Can you help us with these photos?