Dating vintage photos can be a challenge, but helpful resources are available, like the image archives at the Landscape Change Program at the University of Vermont. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Landscape Change Program collects historic images to document how the Vermont landscape has changed over time. There are now more than 70,000 images in the collection, providing a treasure trove for local historians and genealogists in Vermont.
Fortunately for family historians, the university’s Landscape Change Program also offers resources to help date your own vintage photographs taken in the United States.
Almost every element of a vintage photograph can be a clue. The Landscape Change Program does a great job with these elements: men’s and women’s clothing, hats, hairstyles, fashion accessories; the built environment; machinery and cars. When available, a current photograph of the same place is also included.
Their resources are conveniently separated into decades:
1850s | 1860s | 1870s | 1880s | 1890s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s| 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
To search the archive, click here. If you’d like to create albums to help your research, you can register as a user at the Landscape Change Program at this link.
And the program is also actively seeking historic images of Vermont. If you have scans of Vermont photographs you would like to contribute, please click here.
A few weeks ago, I posted about dating photographs using Library of Congress resources. I think the University of Vermont’s site is another useful resource as we all work on those mysterious photos in our family collections.. Stay tuned for more resources on dating vintage photos in future blog posts.