Thank you for visiting my site! I really love family photographs. All of them — from the mystery images you find in shoeboxes and albums to the pictures you snap with your digital devices. No mystery is too small. A simple question about an image can lead to new stories of your ancestors. If you don’t know who’s in a photo, don’t worry. I have proven methods for putting names to the faces in those pictures. Methods that can tell you more about when they were taken, who took them and why. As a former curator at a historical society, I know how to make sense of photographs and family history. My skills live at the junction of history, genealogy and photography. This means you can count on me to help you identify the people in them, offer solutions for preserving and organizing them, and yes, even guide you in the various ways to gather and share picture stories with your relatives.
I start by studying clues within a picture — a hairstyle, a sign in the background, or the shape of a shirtsleeve — in order to identify a person, place or era. What follows from my genealogical expertise is uncovering the story behind the images of the past.That could mean shedding light on how those pictures fit into your family tale. Or discovering the history of the area in which those people lived — even if that’s locally in my small state of Rhode Island or around the world in Australia.
As a consultant and seminar leader I help people rediscover their family history one picture at a time, tackle additional research if necessary and then advise them on technical solutions to share those discoveries. I’m passionate about helping you dig deep into your family history to tell the story of your ancestors and preserving it for your descendants.
One of my pet projects is The Last Muster, a decade long search for photographs of individuals who lived during the Revolutionary War but who were still alive in the age of photography. It’s currently a two volume set and the quest for more photographs is ongoing.
How I Got Started
Way back when, my first professional job was split in two. I spent half the day assisting patrons with historical/family research and the other half of the day working with family photos. The two never merged until I decided that this disconnect could be bridged. So I began to experiment with the ways that a photograph could lead to — or confirm — a family’s history. For instance, a wedding photo can tell you who attended the event and where the couple was married. A woman’s hat can identify her ethnic origins.
Now, decades later, I’ve proven (again and again!) that photographs and family history go together like bread and butter. They’re a natural match and one that’s often overlooked in the search for census records, vital statistics and other types of standard genealogical sources.
Maureen Taylor is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada. She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira). She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com.
Currently a contributing editor of Family Tree Magazine, Maureen also writes personal memoirs and narrative family histories for the Newbury St. Press of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.