About The Author

David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Donations of large photo collections, particularly those from studio photographers, often come with only a smattering of images identified. What does your organization do to get unidentified photographs identified?

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4 Responses to Restoring Identity

  1. Mary Warner says:

    This is hit-or-miss for us. It helps to at least have a general location identified. We have a collection of unidentified photos from the Swan River area of Morrison County. If we know someone is looking for family information from that area, we’ll pull the photos and see if they can identify anyone.

    Periodically, we’ll do a display of unidentified photos at the museum and see if visitors can identify anyone.

    In addition, we have a page of our website devoted to unidentified photos from our collections.

    We’ve had little success with these methods, but every bit of information we get is helpful.


  2. Once in a great while we will scan a few and put them on display at one of the local banks or senior citizen apartment buildings. Like Mary, it is hit or miss. But we are realistic enough to know that we will never get all of them identified.


  3. Beth Hoover says:

    At acession time if by a family member we ask that they work with us for as much ID as possible. I personally use various lighting and angles in hopes of finding less visable notations, back or front.


  4. Cathy Walters says:

    With many families moved from areas to other states,would it not be wise that you would have a site here-asking nationwide,help us identify-these photo’s from these area’s? Ron Manzow,Plainview History Center Curator,has put pieces in News paper and has History Cornor in the Plainview,MN News paper.He may be able to give insight on this subject-he has helped me and many of his items he’s put in paper I’ve clipped,he puts in unidentified pitures and writes a story around photo and has in hopes to generate the info missing from photo.


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