Your Family Photographs

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Within the Museum of Family History’s “vault” lies a couple of hundred studio photographs, mostly taken in towns and cities in pre-World War I Europe; only a portion of these are on display. Many of these photos (mounted on cardboard) contain what could be important genealogical information to you, especially if you are trying to date a family photograph taken in a professional photographic studio.

What information can be found on such a photo? The name of the photographic studio often appears as an imprint under the photograph; usually a lithographic design covers most of the photo backing. Many of these designs contain attractive graphics, including medals or awards the studio supposedly won at some exposition or competition, or perhaps a medal of merit or excellence that was awarded by a European monarch. Perhaps there even will be an indication that the photographer is the "official" photographer or a particular monarch.

After World War I, however, the mood in Europe changed—especially in Eastern Europe—in such a way that those attractive lithographic designs mostly disappeared. After 1914-5, these attractive designs were generally replaced with a simple stamp imprint with the name of the studio and the studio's address.

The Museum of Family History’s collection of fronts and backs of such studio photographs is nothing when compared to the collection of over 3500 photos that can be found at This Polish and German language website documents the activities of photographers and their studios in the years 1850-1914.

On this site, you can search for a particular photographer and studio by the surname of the photographer. If successful, you will be given a list of studios that once existed for a particular photographer. Then you can see if one of the listing pertains to the photographer and studio that you’re looking for.

There were many hundreds of photographic studios that existed during the pre-World War I years in Europe, and this website certainly don’t have every one represented. However, they do have a lot. Whereas the Museum of Family History only holds images of studio photographs of Jewish individuals and family groups, this site makes no such distinction.

Here is a “for instance”:


You have a beautiful heirloom, a family photograph of cousins from Czernowitz from before World War I (mostly likely in the very early 1900s), which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. You can see the imprint on the bottom of the front of the photo mount that the studio name/photographer is T. Bahrynowicz. You can also see that the studio was in Czernowitz.

On the back of the photo (the reverse side) you can also see in larger letters "T. Bahrynowicz," as well as the address of the studio Hauptstrasse 36. If you don't speak German, you can use Google Translate to translate the rest of the incidental information on the backing. But you don't really know the date the photo was taken. You'd say though that because the lithographic design is "fancy," the photo was taken sometime before World War I, but when? 1914? 1904? 1894?

Be sure to read through the Museum’s exhibition “Photographic Studios of Eastern Europe” which will also assist you in your research. The exhibition can be found at . This will help you a bit in narrowing down the timeline.

You then will go to the aforementioned website and click on the link at the top of the page “Fotograf.” You then click on the link “B” for Bahrynowicz. This could be a page that you'd bookmark for future use.

When you do, you will see two listings for a T. Bahrynowicz. His full name is said to be Teodozy Bahrynowicz. It seems that he had two studios, one for Czernowitz and the other in Lemberg/Lvov.

Since your photo was most likely taken in Czernowitz, click on the Czernowitz link, where it says “Details >>”. There you will see a table that will tell you (if available):

  • the photographer’s name (Teodozy Bahrynowicz)

  • the city where the studio is located (Czernowitz)

  • the street where the studio is located (Hauptstrasse 36, opposite the Hotel Moldova)

  • where any of his studio branches, if any, are located (Lviv: Jagielonska Street 24)

  • between what years he operated the studio (1881-1915)

  • the lithographer who supplied the studio with the photo mount, i.e. the piece of cardboard onto which the photo was glued and mounted--the lithographer’s name is often printed on the back of the photo, but is often too small to read. (Bernhard Wachtl, Vienna)

  • any awards which the photographer had won in the past (Silver Medal of Merit 1886)

  • notes, i.e. other information printed within the design, e.g. “negatives preserved,” “magnifications after each picture to life size artistically done,” etc. ("Magnification of each image to a man's greatness in artistic execution; Bahrynowicz died. w 1915.)

  • you will see thumbnails of the front and back (sometimes just one of the two), which you can click on and see enlarged. (Here, just the back of the photo mount.)

The lithographic design on this website may or may not be the same that is on your photograph. If you visit that displays many studio photos once taken in Czernowitz studios, you will find a half dozen variations of the lithographic design. The actual design may help you narrow down the year too if you happen to see the same design on a photo on the fotorevers site that is dated. However, one cannot guarantee that a photo mount with a specific lithographic design that was purchased from the lithographer in 1900, wasn't used until 1912. You just have to gather all the information you can gather and make the best judgment possible.

Again, be sure to read through the Museum’s exhibition “Photographic Studios of Eastern Europe” which will also assist you in your research. The exhibition can be found at .

There is also more to explore on the website, and you should do so at your leisure. Enjoy!

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