Thursday, February 2, 2017

NERGC Interview ~ Maureen Taylor

The 14th biennial New England Regional Genealogical Consortium will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts from April 26-29. Visit the website for all the conference information and register before February 28 to get the early bird discount!

Several New England Geneabloggers were invited to interview some of the speakers and I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective.

Following are the questions I posed and her answers:

Elizabeth Handler: Please share some of your background that has given you the experience of being able to analyze family photographs.
Maureen Taylor: I began my career in the Graphics Department of the Rhode Island Historical Society. The collection consisted of all sorts of non-print materials including photographs. Advanced study through workshops increased my knowledge of pictures. Genealogists would come to the library to research their family but never asked about any possible pictures of their ancestors. I worked to change that.

I’m always reading about old photos, attending conferences and talking to colleagues. Plus I seem to be addicted to collecting images as well. <LOL> There is no end to the fascinating details present in pictures. Everyday is a new experience. Every new picture brings a piece of history to light.

EH: You have written many books, including two books with photographs of Revolutionary War Solders: The Last Muster, volumes 1 and 2. Are you still receiving more photos of these 18th century individuals? Is a volume 3 in the works?
MT: When I began searching for these photos I thought there couldn’t be too many of them in the world. Was I wrong! Yes, I’m planning on a volume three. A big thank you to everyone that brings these images to my attention. So far I’ve found more than 200 pictures (photographs and engravings based on pictures).

EH: I love your books that include pages upon pages of old photos. Are most of the photos yours or have you had success with getting people to share photos with you (like I did in your Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats book)? [Note: I shared two photos with Maureen for this book. I recently blogged about them here and here.]
MT: I’ve been collecting images for about 20 years. Occasionally a collector will share images with me for a book when I don’t have a suitable picture in my collection. That happened with Bonnets and Hats. A collector I know shared several pictures of men in interesting hats! I have a file on wedding images and over the years many people have sent me pictures for that project. Now all I need is more time to put it together.

EH: How long do you spend working with a client on analyzing an old family photograph? Or is it completely different for every client?
MT: Clients that sign up for consults receive my expertise in a fifteen minute conversation. What’s not covered it that short block is the time I’ve spent getting ready for the call researching details and verifying the details in their family history. The amount of time I spend on each picture depends on the images.

EH: How many times have you attended NERGC?
MT: I think I’ve only missed one!

EH: What are you most looking forward to at NERGC 2017 (besides enjoying the company of hundreds of other genealogists)?
MT: I love reconnecting with all the people I’ve met over the years. There is a nice energy to regional conferences. It’s like a big family reunion! Can’t wait for it.

In addition to having a booth at the Exhibit Hall, Maureen will be teaching the following sessions at the conference:
Fashion Clues to Understanding Who Your Ancestors Really Were (Friday 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.)
Workshop: Photo Detecting 101: Photo Identification Tips and Techniques (Friday 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.)


  1. Great interview and I can't wait to see Maureen at the Friday sessions of NERGC.

    1. Thanks, Marian, and yes, Maureen is wonderful in person!