Cameras My Ancestors Held and What They Can Tell Us?

Presented by Gordon McBean

60-Minute Bonus Track (All)

There is a significant divide in the types of photos in our family picture collections. Originally photos were taken by professionals in their studios and the sessions were grand events! Imagine the excitement – spending the whole day getting dressed up for the one and only time in your life you were likely to have your picture taken.

With the advent of the Kodak amateur film and cameras, the camera was now in the hands of your ancestors and they recorded daily life. We see their friends and extended families over for a game or picnic. The gang for a party, their homes inside and out. Where they worked. They took pictures of prized possessions and events in their lives.

As cameras changed, the film they used changed. The size and proportions changed. Since early prints were contact prints, we can see the film format used. We can use the information from the film stock to help identify the camera used and, based on that information, set an approximate date. What can you tell from your photos?

I was lucky to inherit the family negative collection. If people do not write on the back of photographs, they definitely don’t identify who is captured on the negative or what was the date and occasion. The process is like a great detective mystery. We just need to learn how to read the clues and follow them!