Geneology 101: Look at the photos for information

The Barriere Genealogy Group meets on the first and third Friday of each month, at 6 p.m at the Barriere Library

When researching your family tree, one of the most enjoyable things (at least for me) is when you come across some old photos.  Old photos are great, and sometimes can provide a wealth of information about your family.

If there are buildings or streets in the background, watch for signs, whether they be street signs or store signs.  Even if the pictures aren’t marked as to who is in it or what was happening, those signs will tell you where it was taken, and sometimes when (like if the building in the background burned down in a certain year, you know it was taken before the date it burned down).

Watch for distinctive hair styles or clothing styles, they will tell you approximately when the photos were taken, too.

It’s also fun finding old negatives, and generally, the larger the negative, the older the picture will likely be.  Mind you, getting those old negatives printed can get expensive, as they will likely have to be sent away in order to be processed.  There aren’t that many places left that will develop the old negatives, but there are some.  Ask your favourite photography store, they’ll be able to tell you who can help you with them.

Then, of course, there are sometimes pictures with no people in them, just of places or buildings.  Such as the family homestead, the office building or store where someone worked, or a gravesite.

One website that is worth a look is  This site lists many cemeteries from around the world, including Barriere, and anyone can add information to them, including pictures of the tombstones.  If you have a relative buried in Barriere, there aren’t any pictures loaded yet, but most of the names are recorded online.  Some records will include pictures of the deceased, the cemetery, with info about the individual, and sometimes even a full obit.

Once it gets a little warmer outside, and the snow has completely gone away, I may arrange a day for the Barriere Genealogy Group to meet at the Barriere Cemetery, to take pictures of all the stones to update the findagrave website.  It would certainly make a change from sitting in front of a computer.


The Barriere Genealogy Group meets on the first and third Friday of each month, at 6 p.m at the Barriere Library.  Everyone is welcome to come, but the Library only has two computers, so if you have a laptop, bring it.