Thursday, April 10, 2014

How Much Can You Learn From a Photo?

How much information can you get from a photo? You have to combine what you know with what you see. Look at the above photo as an example.

This photograph may have been snapped after a church service. How can I tell? The sailor is holding a cardboard fan typical of those used while people were seated in the pews on warm Sundays. Certainly the church would not have been air conditioned at this time period. Another sign that they may have just left church is that all of the women are well dressed.

The fan, the white sailor's uniform and the women but one in light-colored, short-sleeve dresses point to it being either spring or summer.

Beatrice Pierce (1921-1993) is fourth from the left and her oldest sister Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977) is next to her, fifth from the left. The names of the others in the photo are not known. Ina Mae married in February 1928, so this photo was taken sometime before then.

The photo may have been taken on one of the unpaved streets of Wilmer, Ala., where the Pierce sisters lived. Or it is possible that the group had driven to the Port City of Mobile and it was taken on one of the city's unpaved streets. A large building can be seen at the end of the street in the background.

Have I missed any clues?


  1. I was born in Pierce Level (Wilmer, Al) in 1930 and attended Tanner Williams School from 1936 through 1942.
    My parents were Vernal and Lillie Mae Pierce, my grandparents were Fritz and Cammie (Parker) Pierce, Pool and Daisy (Rice) Finch.
    My great grandparents were Floyd and Sarah Ann Piere. Floyd and Sarah had five sons: Nathan, George, Yancy, Chesley and Fritz.
    Floyd died of a stroke in 1893 and Sarah Ann died in 1934. All my relatives from the area are buried in Palestine Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery.
    I have photos of many of the relatives including the five boys of Floyd and Sarah Ann.
    I do not know Floyd's parents names. Sarah Ann's parents were Silas and Mary Ann (Stringfellow)

  2. Thanks Seldon!

    If you would like to email me a few of your best photos, I'd be happy to post them as I can get to them. Please send them to Also please included any info you have--names, dates, places, etc.

    If there are stories to go along with the photos, please send those, too.