First, take a look at this photo.
One of the things I've learned is that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has really maddening captions and dates for their World War II photos. A lot of their online material was captioned by whatever source donated the photo originally.
The NARA caption is "Crew of the "Early Delivery" that supply the ground forces in New Guinea with equipment and foodstuffs." when I captioned this photo originally in 1999, the Internet wasn't as large as it is today, and it didn't have the research possibiiities.
Hence, later on I found "Early Delivery" on the Pacific Wrecks Database. "Early Delivery" was shot down on February 6, 1943 over Wau, New Guinea.
6/1/06 How Do You Know What You Know About a Photo?
A question I get all the time is how do you know what I know about a particular photo. Unlike many other sites, I strive to find out where, when, who, why and how a photo was taken. Almost all the photos on my site are missing all of that info, but a lot of them, and soon most of them, will have critical detail in more than one area.
Researching photos is very interesting to me. It's a piece of someone's history. I've seen men cry over getting a photo they thought never existed or never saw before. I've seen photos contridict the established history. Annotating them helps preserve them for the future.
As I said below, I work with several photo archives to research the photo. Once I decide it's something I want to annotate, I look at the caption in the National Archives or the Naval Historical Center or the anonymous donor archive and start from there. Often, too often, someone captioned the photo 60 years ago and their caption is wrong, either inaccurate in facts or time or place. That's where I go to work.
First, I look at the photo. If it's a plane, a ship or tank, I count the propellers, or the stacks, or the bogie wheels. If it's a person, I lok at the uniform. If it's a place, I look for distinctive landmarks.
I can often figure out a lot from those details. A search online will help narrow the time and place down, sometime sto the exact day.
Sometimes those details confuse even the experts, and the photo has to go to someone else who might of seen it before or might know someone who knows its history.
Or it might go to the veterans groups. The knowledge these men possess, even 60 years later, is extraordinary. They can tell you the names and hometowns of everyone in a particular photos as if it was taken yesterday. It's quite amazing.
In the enxt few entries, we'll look at some photos, before captioning and after, and see how the process of captioning changed over the past six years.