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  • Photographs

    Joseph Nicephore Niepce changed the world when he produced the very first photograph back in 1827. Ever since, people have used photography in various forms to make a record of the things, places, people and events important to their lives.

    Before the invention of photographs, people had to rely on another person’s interpretation, as shown in drawings, illustrations and paintings.

    The word photograph is derived from the Greek ‘photos’ meaning light and ‘graphein’ being to draw.
    Very early photographs were of poor quality (by today’s standards) and took a long time to produce.They were unique, as the ability to reproduce them by use of negative/positive reproduction, didn’t happen until the 1840s. It was not until the year 1900, that people had the means to take a photograph themselves, when cameras became more readily available. Until then photography was a specialised occupation requiring the subject of the picture to pay a visit to the photographer’s studio or for the photographer to visit the subject.

    What does a photograph actually show us?

    A photograph shows reality rather than a person's interpretation of that reality, although it must be noted that photographers were also adept in altering photographs with tones, light and later colour.

    It should also be remembered that the clothes worn for the taking of the photograph, may not be the actual clothes worn on a daily basis by our ancestors. The taking of a family portrait would certainly have required everyone to dust down their Sunday best.

    As photography has really only come into its own in the last 50 years, photographs taken in the first half of the 20th century will be far scarcer than in the latter half. Even people we remember, our Grandparents and Great Grandparents, may have had very few photographs taken, so any that do exist should, needless to say, be treated and preserved with care.

    Photographs can tell so very much about our ancestors - not only how they physically looked but how they lived, as well as how they dressed. Their clothing may well give clues as to their occupations, rank or professions. A photograph may capture an event in their lives – perhaps a wedding or christening – and give clues as to the date of the event, either because someone noted the event, people or place or by the clues seen in the photograph.

    Never before has photography been as commonplace as it is now. Take pictures a-plenty for the next generation. Record who, what, where, when and why so that the next generation of researchers will have plenty of material to use to understand the times and circumstances in which we lived today.


    Links to pictures of buildings and locations can be seen on the national and county pages of the UK County Index

    FTF Places of Worship

    In the Autumn of 2007, the Places of Worship Project was launched. The aim of the PoW Project is to compile an online album of all the places where our ancestors may have been baptised, christened, married or buried in the British Isles.

    The intention is to provide copyright free photos of places of worship which you can use in your research. If a photo appears in The Places of Worship which relates to an event in your family history, then copies can be made for personal use. Currently, the album contains pictures from England, Wales and Scotland.

    If you click here you will be taken to the project's home page, where you will find a short description of how to navigate the project and the full listing of counties in England, Wales and Scotland. The county lists are organised according to the orginal parish names.

    Although there will only be one exterior shot of each building in the main pages, some photographers may have taken more pictures which might include the interior; they can be contacted through the site.


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