Use Crowdsourcing to Identify the People in Photographs

Jeff Phillips discovered a big pile of funky-smelling Eastman Kodak boxes containing dozens of projection trays filled with Kodachrome slides at a consignment antique shop near St. Louis. The 30 boxes contained about 1,100 slides. Only two of the slides were labeled. One said “Edna” and another was labeled as “Harry, 1958.” Those are clues but do not provide much to go on. Jeff decided to identify the people in the slides. Jeff then embarked on a crowdsourced search to identify the people in the photos by using social media. He received hundreds of suggestions from Facebook users.

Many of the comments did not help but a few provided great clues. And the end result? You need to read the story for yourself at Another version of the story may be found at

Those of us who own unidentified photographs can learn much from Jeff Phillips’ example of how to identify people.

In other news, many people still are not labeling photographs or slides.

My thanks to newsletter reader Donna Freymark for telling me about this great story.


What a wonderful story. I enjoyed the details of the pursuit. And it is wonderful to think that this couple will now be fondly remembered by people who never met them during their life, but have come to appreciate them after they have gone. (Kind of what genealogy is all about really.)


My mother’s basement got 6′ of water when a cinder block wall collapsed last summer during a flood. We lost my late father’s books, sermons, postcards and all of his family slides.


That Kodachrome was good stuff. Those slides look brand new, like they just came back from processing not faded or aged at all.


Editing photos in Picasa automatically engages their (i.e. Google’s) face-recognition software. Even if you can’t put a name to a person, you can at least find a group of photographs of the same person.


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