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How to date photographs by fashion

One of the most effective ways to date a photograph is also one of the simplest: look at what the subjects are wearing. These contacts and resources may also be helpful.

Useful contacts

If you contact any of the people listed below, they will need a copy of the front and back of the photograph to be dated. If it has been enlarged please let them know the size of the original: a stamped, self-addressed envelope will ensure a more prompt reply. Do not send the original. We do not advise the original photograph be photocopied directly. We would recommend that photocopies be made from a copy photograph of the original to send those people you wish to contact for an opinion.

The Fashion Research Centre | 4 Circus, Bath BA1 2EW | 01225 477 752 | Website
Able to help date photographs by mail – but enquirers should provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope to ensure a reply.

Gallery of English Costume | Platt Hall, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5LL | 0161 224 5217
Does not offer a formal photograph-dating service, but may be able to offer some advice.

Jean Debney | 8 Huckleberry Close, Purley-on-Thames, Reading RG8 8EH
An independent freelance genealogist who provides a photograph-dating service, using fashion as the key, for a reasonable fee but only by post.

Museum of Costume & Textiles | 51 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 6AF | 0115 948 3504

Shambellie House Museum of Costume | New Abbey, Dumfries DG2 8HQ | 01387 850 375

Useful rEsources

  • Anne Buck, Victorian Costume (Bedford: Ruth Bean Pubs., 1984)
  • Madeleine Ginsburg, Victorian Dress in Photographs (London: Batsford, 1982)
  • Miles Lambert, Fashion in Photographs 1860-1880 (London: Batsford, 1991)
  • Sarah Levitt, Fashion in Photographs 1880-1900 (London: Batsford, 1991)
  • Audrey Linkman, The Victorians: Photographic Portraits (London: I.B. Tauris, 1993)
  • Halvor Moorshead and Jeff Chapman (eds.), Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929 (Niagra Falls, New York: Moorshead Magazines Ltd, 2000)
  • Elizabeth Owen, Fashion in Photographs 1920-1940 (London: Batsford, 1993)
  • Robert Pols, Dating Old Photographs (Genealogy) (Newbury: Countryside Books 1983)
  • Robert Pols, Looking at Old Photographs: Their Dating and Interpretation (Birmingham: Federation of Family History Societies, 1998)
  • Katrina Rolley, Fashion in Photographs 1900-1920 (London: Batsford, 1992)

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5 comments on “How to date photographs by fashion

  1. Can I submit an old Tin Type picture via Text or email to determine if it can be enhanced?

  2. Can you help?
    When did postcard backs with ‘BRITISH MADE’ under ‘POST CARD’ and separated by 2 parallel lines. There is also a ‘Correspondence’ and ‘Address’ sections?
    I have some data which suggests post war.

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