Dating old photographs

Apollyon

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#1
How is it done? This post wont be me explaining anything but simply pointing something out. That something is the false confidence with which historians will give a specific date to a photo. There's never an attempt to explain where the date came from, they wont allow any room for debate and more often than not these dates come directly from the bureaucracies of the world not objective historians.

What got me thinking about This is i'm perusing a selection of images from Boston

Digital Commonwealth - Images

I noticed something that to me seems odd. Many of these images have dates ascribed to them in a range of 60 years or more.

Old Merchants Exchange Building, 53 State Street

How does that help us understand these photos? Why 60 years? why not 70 years? 80 years? or 100?

This is just a cautionary tale that if a specific date is given for a photograph it may be a completely meaningless arbitrary or even political date.

Further reading

Here is an article where the author uses fashion to move these 1940s photos towards their correct chronology possibly as late as 1970

In this one the same author uses a calendar in the background to properly date the great depression
 
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KorbenDallas

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#4
Fashion is a big lead there. I’m specifically interested in what other time frame demonstrates fashion similar to 1905-ish photographs.
 

PrincepAugus

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#5
Speaking of fashion, I would love to see a thread about hidden fashion. xD
 

KorbenDallas

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#6
Speaking of fashion, I would love to see a thread about hidden fashion. xD
I would too, lol. I have something non related in the works, but have no time to make it happen. Real glad we get more people volunteering to post interesting topics for discussion.

:geek:
 

whitewave

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#7
Most of those photos are of one family, presumably in the Appalachians. I've been to the Appalachians in the last decade and you can still see places and people that look and live like this.
Our family wasn't considered poor but I remember as a child bathing in tubs and hanging laundry out to dry even in the snow. As a very young child we were poor and lived in a place called Mulligan Flats (near what is now downtown Oklahoma City). It has since been condemned and paved over but even the ramshackle hovels were whitewashed, the yards were kept picked up and mowed, people's home interiors were kept clean and guests were always served something to eat on your best dishes. People were horrified and greatly insulted to be offered "charity". Willingness to work was considered one of the greatest virtues and unwillingness to work was worse than drunkenness. We were not allowed to wear jeans in public; mini skirts would elicit a beating from grandma, gloves and hats were considered essential wear for any public function and only "white trash" would allow themselves to be seen in public without such accouterments. Grandma would say, "You may have to be poor but you don't have to be dirty or ignorant so go take your bath and do your homework!" :) It was a different era with different values. Now, we call "poor" those that don't have a tv in every room. Dogs in this country eat and live better than most people in 3rd world countries.
 

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