Photograph Identity Questions 4, 5 & 6 – Results

Thank you to the 21 people who responded to Photograph Identity Questions 4, 5 & 6. A couple of people did not answer all three questions, so each ended up with 20 answers as follows:

Face comparison 4,5 & 6 results

Face comparison 4,5 & 6 results

The no votes have it, to varying degrees, with 70% for photo pair 4, 60% for photo pair 5, and 90% for photo pair 6. From these results, pair 6 certainly seems to be different people, but it is hard to be so sure for pair 4 and pair 5.

In this series, I have now asked ‘Is this the same person?’ for 6 pairs of faces. Photo pair 1 was a control case where I knew the answer was ‘No’. Photo pairs 2 to 6 are all about comparing people in the group photo below with other photos in the same album.

group photo

Allport, Thomas B. (photographer, Uttoxeter). ca. 1860s-early 1870s. Group of 8 people. Faces extracted for comparison in photo pairs 2-6.

To recap all 6 results:

Photo pair Result Result% Strathclyde result
1 No 76% Human: Yes 69%; Picasa: Yes, threshold 65
2 Yes 94% Human: Yes 94%; Picasa: Yes, threshold 75
3 No 65%
4 No 70%
5 No 60% Human: Yes 82%; Picasa: Yes, threshold 65
6 No 90%

Three of the photo pairs were included in a project I undertook in 2010 for the Genealogical Studies postgraduate program at the University of Strathclyde. The methods were a little different as most respondents gave their answers offline and they were asked to give ‘instant’ answers rather than try to consciously analyse the photo pairs. In the Strathclyde study, 4 of the 5 control face pairs known to be the same person scored 70% or more ‘Yes’ votes, but only 1 of 4 the control face pairs known to be different people scored over 70% of ‘No’ votes. So I thought responses to face pairs of unknown identity with a substantial majority of ‘Yes’ votes, especially those over 80%, were likely the same people. I hoped for consistent results for the 3 pairs repeated in this series. Photo pair 2 delivered the same result, but photo pairs 1 and 5 did not.

Comments from respondents suggest that they spent time consciously analysing the photo pairs. If undecided did you vote ‘No’? Did you become less sure the longer you tried to analyse the photos? Are these potential reasons for the preponderance of ‘No’ votes? Could the 60-70% middle ground ‘No’ votes really indicate uncertainty? I welcome comments on these questions.

I admit that I hoped that pairs 2 – 6 would have decisive ‘Yes’ answers to support the conclusions summarised in Cartes de Visite album links to the Stanley family and Earls of Derby.

© Sue Adams 2014

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Cartes de Visite album links to the Stanley family and Earls of Derby

The Carte de Visite album passed down from Mary Fleming (nee Lamb) has been a wonderful example of an early photograph collection to work on.  This collection dates from the late 1850’s to the 1870’s, spanning the period of great popularity of the format for collections of celebrity pictures, exchanging with friends and acquaintances in place of the visiting card and family keepsakes.

I have established the connection between the Fleming and Stanley families.  In the 1868 London Post Office Directory’s Court section, Charles James Fox Stanley is listed at 9 & 10 Half Moon Street, the address of Flemings Hotel.

The four photos annotated with names Stanleys: Evelyn Emma, Margaret Alice, Douglas James George and Albert Hamilton are all consistent with being those members of the Stanley family, children of Charles James Fox Stanley, 3rd son of the 13th Earl of Derby.  I dated the photos based on costume, props and records of the photographer’s activities found in census, newspapers and trade directories, estimated the ages of the subjects and calculated which Stanley family members could be represented in the album. The Stanley family were resident at Loxley Hall, near Uttoxeter in 1871.  The group photo portraying eight people was taken by T B Allport of Uttoxeter.

Then I compared the faces, eliminating bias by presenting pairs of faces to a sample of genealogists, friends and family, and using Picasa to compare faces.  As I expected people performed better  than the computer software.  These techniques provided supporting evidence for the identity of some Stanley family members, but sadly disproved my hopes of finding one of the Earls of Derby in the album.