ESSEX-UK-L ArchivesArchiver > ESSEX-UK > 2011-12 > 1324901719
From: "Colleen" <>
Subject: [Ess] Hidden photos of ancestors
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2011 12:15:50 -0000
A number of people have asked me about the possibility of finding photos of
their family or where their family lived. Do we have more chance of finding
such pictures if our ancestors lived in towns rather than villages?
Many more photos were taken in towns, which tended to have photographic
studios, than were taken in villages. So photos of some small Essex villages
are rarer than hen's teeth. There were, however, hundreds of amateur or semi
professional photographers living in Essex villages - and a village
photographer might take a picture of almost everyone in the village. So we
might, for example, have more chance of finding a picture of an ancestor who
lived in the tiny, back of beyond village of Little Totham, where Thomas
Hammond was an amateur photographer, than of an ancestor who lived in large
towns like Colchester or Chelmsford which produced millions of anonymous
often unidentified photos.
One set of old photos I have was obviously taken of many of the inhabitants
of a small village by a photographer with a travelling fair. The whole set
is like a late 19th century snap shot or social history of almost the whole
village. That's something you would never find for a large town. Other sets
of photos I have were taken by local vicars at village fairs or flower
shows. So, whether we find pictures of our ancestors tends to boil down to
luck - and perseverance.
I'm no expert, but in my experience the best means of tracking down photos
of our family is by tracing our existing family. One distant cousin I traced
had been given a family photograph album by an elderly relative containing
pictures of my great grandparents and many other family members, named only
by Christian name, who I had never expected to see. My cousin didn't know
who most of these people were, but between us and our family we were able to
identify most of them.
There are more photos of my ancestors out there somewhere which I have yet
to discover and I'm sure this will be true for most of us.