Sunday Morning Book Review – Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs by Karen Frisch-Ripley

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 2 September, 2012 at

Have you ever wondering who was staring back at you in a old photographs or perhaps your missing a date on a photograph from an old postcard. Some time ago, I acquired a 19th century family photo album. I wondered if there would be a way to determine who was in those photos. Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs by Karen Frisch-Ripley was very instrumental in helping me identify at least some of those photos.

Karen’s step by step approach is easy to follow. A first step in the process is to identify which family the photo might belong to. Perhaps there are some family resemblences. For my 19th centutry photo album identification, I already knew the family. Knowing the genealogical details of the family (spouses, children and other extended family) is a must. For most readers of this blog, pull out your family group sheets.

One of the best keys I used was being able to date the photograph. Various clues abound which aid in the dating process. What type of photograph is it (tin type, cabinet card or something else)? When was the photographers studio in existence. Karen’s advice in these areas specifically helped me date some of my photos and led to a cabinet card of a six month old baby being identified.

As an added bonus Karen describes how to restore and care for old photographs, along with methods to locate additional old family photographs.



  1. Solve this Mystery Monday – unknown subject of a photo – decipher the writing @ GenealogyBlog

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