Workshop shows novices how to solve photo mysteries

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: ART HEERWAGEN - Karen Wallace Steely, the featured speaker at the Oct. 12 meeting of the Genealogical Society of Washington County, displays some of the pictures she will use to help teach the tests and techniques used in dating and identifying old family photos. If you’re a family history buff with a box or two of old unidentifiable family photos stashed in your closet, you’ll want to come and hear how the pros use forensic genealogy techniques to help solve the mysteries of who, where, and when.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, the Genealogical Society of Washington County’s meeting will feature professional genealogist and speaker Karen Wallace Steely of Vancouver, Wash., who will be teaching a class on the basic methods used for dating and identifying old photos.

“I love history,” said Steely who was a history major, and has completed advanced course work at two national genealogical research institutes. “Investigating and identifying old photos and the historical period they were taken in, has been a passion of mine since I started making scale models of vintage clothing in grade school.”

Steely said there are three major things to look for when dating photos — the photographic method; the clothing; and the settings, poses, and props used in the photo.

“In my lecture, I’ll explain how to use each of these ‘clues’ to successfully indentify the photo’s content,” she said, adding that the most difficult of these three things is dating what the subjects are wearing.

“Clothing styles carry over into different periods, and often repeat themselves.”

Those in attendance are encouraged to bring one or two photos they would like help in dating and identifying.

Shirley Okeson, the society’s publicity chair, said that preservation supplies, and the techniques used for storing and scanning old photos will also be discussed during the meeting.

For further information, call, 503-640-4431.

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