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The Most Interesting Course I've Taken: Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects

By Sandy Fackler, PLCGS. Student with The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


I knew little about the aspects of photography when I registered for Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various P... in December. Now, I want to recommend this course to anyone who has a collection of old or recent photographs because I believe you’ll learn at least 3 things to help you whether it is how to digitize your photos, how to identify people through facial characteristics, or how to identify when or where a photo was taken.

 Carte de visite of George W. Fackler, 2nd great grandfather of Sandy Fackler. Probably taken between 25 September 1865 and 27 December 1868. Courtesy of Sandy Fackler.

While I’ve scanned photos before, I hate to admit I was unaware I could scan at different dots per inch (dpi) or that my scanner would do so. Now I plan to re-scan many of my old photos to see if I can improve the images. This course also provides tips on organizing photos on a computer so I will do that as I scan.

Cabinet card of Alonzo Hiwanda, aka George F. Day, 3rd great uncle of Sandy Fackler. The names of the gentlemen on the barrel are unknown. Date unknown but probably in 1890s. Courtesy of Sandy Fackler.


I’ve purchased a cabinet card and cartes de visite of my ancestors through eBay. The cabinet card and many of the CDVs are of a circus sideshow performer. I learned about backdrops and that they were individually hand-painted by local artists. Can I find other CDVs with the same background and learn where my CDVs were taken? If so, this might lead to identifying the name of the circus he performed with.

I also have a group photo of men and women possibly taken in the 1890s-1920s. No one is identified. Using information in this course I can try to narrow the time frame through their clothes, hairstyles, and by facial comparison and analysis. Each of these topics is included along with photos for comparison.

One other thing I learned that might help. If I have a photo and can’t identify the person, I might be able to find a written description of potential candidates. Descriptions are found in World War I draft cards, World War II draft registration cars, military records, newspaper articles, and criminal records.

All in all, this was one of the most interesting courses I’ve taken. I’ve learned a lot and if you take this course I believe you will too.

Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects contains eight modules. You can register now for the next class which starts April 2, 2018. For more information on this course and the table of contents, see The National Institute website .

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Sandy Fackler, PLCGS, graduated from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in April 2013 and holds Certificates in American Records, Irish Records, and Methodology. She is a member of the National Genealogical Society, the Ohio Genealogical Society, the Association of Professional Genealogists, and many local societies. Her favorite source is old newspapers and spends her free time reading them. She is currently researching her third great uncle (the sideshow performer), her English Quaker ancestors, and several local history stories.

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