Finding the People in the Pictures

Sept. 19th was a great day, a cousin sent me 12 images that she had in her collection. All but one were photos I had never seen before of the McMahon family.

My cousin had identifications for most of them but I have to say, days of research has not uncovered the others. Although she did not send me photographs of the reverse side of the pictures, she did write out what was written or stamped for each photo. The great thing is that a couple of the photographs are from a McMahon family in Philadelphia that I had never heard of. The challenge is to see if I can find the people in the photographs in a paper record.

Day 1 – was spent researching the people named in the photos and the locations. I really wasn’t able to get anywhere using that method.

Day 2 – I was completely focused on the photographer’s stamp to narrow down the dates.The photograph dates appear to be 1895-1915, I have not yet been able to link them to a family in a US census.

The biggest puzzle is the following three pictures, all McMahons. Two of the pictures; the couple and the communion photo are from Philadelphia. I do not have any McMahons living in Philly in my tree, yet. (Hovering your mouse over the photos should bring up the description).

A hint that may help is the name of the boy in the middle photo, Aloy McMahon, short for Aloysius I imagine.

Searching the genealogy sites for a John McMahon in Philly has not narrowed down anything for me, research will be ongoing. SOme possibilities for Aloysius, but nothing concrete as of yet.

The other photos she sent are of Sarah (McHugh) McMahon and her daughter Elizabeth and were taken in Buffalo, NY. These are my direct line, Sarah is my 3x great grandmother!


And here are Ontario ones. I believe the photo in the centre below is another daughter Sarah McMahon above,

What a fun diversion from waiting for DNA matches to arrive!

I was advised of a site that helps you to date an old photo that is a postcard from the empty stamp holder on the reverse side.

And here is the site I used to help date the Ontario photographs.

And guess what? My cousin says she has more to scan! Now I am waiting in anticipation.

If you have McMahons from Philadelphia or if you recognize anyone in the images let’s chat!

  2 comments for “Finding the People in the Pictures

  1. Carol Morton
    November 13, 2018 at 11:41 am

    I too have a lot of studio photos from my husbands’ side of the family that I would love to identify. Any hints anybody has as how to do this would be appreciated.


    • November 13, 2018 at 11:59 am

      Start by finding the photographers stamp and work on identifying when the photographer was in business.


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