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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree March 2018 > ADVICE…


With our experts Chris Paton, Emma Jolly, Jayne Shrimpton, David Frost, Rebecca Probert, Mary Evans and Christine Wibberley




We welcome your family history queries, and try to answer as many as we can, but we do have a considerable backlog at the moment, so, if possible, we recommend in the first instance posting your query on or tweet us @familytreemaguk and we’ll aim to help you there


If those options don’t suit, please email and we’ll be as quick as possible

Early 20th century ancestors

Q I am especially interested in the oldest picture portraying a seated lady and gentleman, who I believe may have been photographed in the 1860s and may be ancestors from Lanteglos by Fowey in Cornwall. On the back of the postcard mount is a dividing line with ‘Communication’ written on the left-hand side and ‘Address Only’ on the right. As for the second photo, I assume the lady is the mother of the three girls, two of whom I believe to be twins. On the back the photographer’s details are printed down the centre, instead of a line. Thank you very much for your time.

Vi Saunders

A We have not seen reverse views of your photographs but you describe them as dividedback postcards – the most common photographic format of the early-mid 20th century. Following the authorisation of new-style postcards offering separate spaces for the address and a written message for postal communication in 1902, studio photographers began to use postcard stock for their portraits. Becoming well-established by 1906/1907, ‘real photo postcards’ (as these were often called) rapidly superseded traditional carte de visite and cabinet prints, enjoying their height of popularity between the 1910s and 1930s.

Millions were produced by studio and professional outdoor photographers, many amateur photographers also using postcard mounts for their snapshots until these died out after WW2. Sometimes real photo postcards were posted by the subject of the picture to friends and relatives, or they might simply be kept for the image, a modern form of photograph.

With a certain 20th-century date for both of your photographs, we must narrow their time frames from the appearance of their subjects.

Photo 1 This photo is thought to show ancestors from the late Edwardian or early First World War years
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About Family Tree

Where would today's family historian be without the wonders of the web? This issue we give you bespoke clues to help you mine that nugget of ancestral gold from among the billions of records available the major family history websites. But family history isn't just about researching facts. It's about recording and treasuring that family story. So to help you do just this, we also have a guide to building your own website for your genealogical discoveries - an online home for your family archive. Step up, and see where you can take your research next!