What can we tell from this photograph?
Looking at an old photograph is like looking through a window into the past. We look at the people and we wonder, 'Who are they?'
Unfortunately, photographs by themselves cannot answer this question. We have to use other sources to figure out as much as we can about the people in photographs and their lives.
For example, look at the photograph below and find out: who the people are; what their names are; where they live; what they do; and whether they are rich or poor. Do not guess. The evidence is in the sources.
- Can you find a cricket bat?
- How many hats are there in the photograph?
- Look carefully at the children. Count how many are boys and how many are girls.
- Do you think these were wealthy people? Give your reasons why you think that.
- How old do you think the children are in the photograph?
- In what ways are the children's clothes different to those worn today?
- Do you think all the children belong to this one family?
1. The photograph can tell us a lot about Victorian Britain - such as what the fashions at the time were, and the size of families. We can also get an idea about how wealthy these people were. Look at the photograph.
- Find James and his family on the census.
- What did James Lillywhite do for a living?
- What was the name of his wife?
- How many children did he have?
- Does this number match up with the photograph?
- Put names to the faces.
- This census was taken in 1891, work out what the childrens ages were in 1887 - how does this compare to what you thought in question 1?
- Why is there a cricket bat in the photograph?
- Did they have servants?
2. To find out more we can look at a census return. Source 2 is the actual census form which was filled in for James Lillywhite on census night 1891. Study the heading for each column carefully.
Which source would be more valuable for finding out about this family?