Letter P challenge

Another unit I have been doing at UTAS is called

Photo Essay

Whenever I write a blog post I try to include at least one image that relates to the topic of the post. But this unit taught me more about telling stories using images and captions.

I always thought a caption was like the little description underneath an image or the title of the image, but in this unit a caption was between one and three sentences per image.

We had to decide on the story-line for our photo-essay, take photos using the new skills we learned in the first few weeks and then write captions for the images we were using.

As this unit could be used as part of the Family History course, and many students who took part in the first Intro to Family History unit are nearly at the stage of graduating in August next year, I decided to make that the theme for my photo-essay.

I saved my photo essay as a powerpoint and have uploaded it here for you to look at. It hasn’t been marked yet by UTAS markers, so I wonder what they will think of it.

Readers: Please leave a comment about my post or something beginning with P that relates to your family history or your research.

letter P

Using images in family history

How often do you find out everything shown in an image when adding it to your family history tree or scrapbook?

This course is now getting to the fun part of dating images. It is suggested that you start by taking one image and trying to read it carefully. Find out everything you can by studying it in all its fine details.

Remember back in the beginner Intro to Family History course, where we were told to do exactly that with a document?

Formal analysis looks at colour, lines, space, mass and scale. This is looking at the visual effect of the image and how the image is composed.

Contextual analysis looks more at the historical or cultural aspect of the image. This includes who took it, what type of image, why was it made etc. Often this is pure speculation and you need to ask more questions of the owner.

So I am going to test this out by using one of my photos relating to my family history.


Formal Analysis

Two young girls facing the photographer. One standing upright beside a piece of furniture, the other sitting sideways with one leg tucked under the other on top of the piece of furniture. The image has been coloured with the older child in a pink frock and the younger in a green frock. Both frocks are knee high and simplistic in design with small collars and short sleeves.

Both have long white socks with Mary Jane type shoes. Behind the younger child is a vase of flowers and a draped curtain. The older child is standing on a rug in front of the piece of furniture (maybe a desk). The two girls are centred in the image with the light coming from the right hand side of the camera, giving a bit of shadow on the left side of the girls’ faces when looking as the photographer.

Contextual analysis

These two young girls are my aunts – the eldest is Iris who died about three weeks after my mother was born in 1934. The youngest is Margaret who is still alive. The image is a studio portrait from Brunton and Easton in Elizabeth Street, Hobart. It is framed on cardboard with the studio name included.

I have a second black and white copy of exactly the same image on a postcard with room for both correspondence and address. On the back of that copy is written the names and ages of the girls when this photo was taken. It is written in the handwriting of my grandmother (their mother) so Iris was aged 8 years 4 months and Margaret 4 years 8 months. This means the portrait was made in December 1932. Maybe this was a Christmas portrait with the girls in their new clothes and shoes.

Readers: Anything else you could add to my analysis of this photo?

Websites to check out

Wreaths in Hall of Valour

I thought I already knew lots of places to find records, diaries, photos for members of my family who had fought in war, so I quickly marked off those sections in the course. But I am glad I went back to check out the comments from the other students. They included lots of links to other sites around the world as well.

Australian War Memorial records for World War 1

Here is a link to the information sheet from the Australian War Memorial for family historians checking out Australian military history for World War 1. I would suggest this is your first step as it links you to so many other resources to use.

Service Records around the world

When transcribing Aussie records, here is a glossary of abbreviations used. There are many sites to gather bits and pieces to build up your relatives service record. Here are a few:

National Archives Australia – click on name search here, fill in name, use drop down arrow to find the conflict

Discovering ANZACs – Australia and New Zealand

War Diaries are now also digitized for some regiments or units.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission can give details about burial places.

National Archives UK have a great website setup with all World War 1 resources available.

A couple of links for our New Zealand mates are here and here.

If searching for those in Canada, here are some links for them.

Looking for British Army in India who served, go to this wiki for help.


On the Australian War Memorial website, type in war photographers in the search area and up will come the list of 25 people. An interesting person to look at is Frank Hurley, but remember some of his photographs have been manipulated and are composed of a few photographs put together in one.

Kansas City in the USA has a National World War museum at this link.

The Imperial War Museum in the UK also has many photos to look at.

British Pathe has images and video clips to research.

Readers: Do you know of any other great sites I could include for this part of the course?

Jean Davidson mentioned First World War Centenary and while googling this I also found ANZAC Centenary and Great War which includes events around the world. These are more general websites about celebrating the centenary rather than researching your specific person.