Family Photographs at Christmas

Family Photographs at Christmas



woman 1913 photograph


Studio photograph dated Christmas 1913


Photographs – specifically photographic portraits – have often helped people to keep in contact, when they are apart. By the early twentieth century it was becoming common to send a personal photograph of oneself to distant friends and family members at Christmas time.




photograph ww2 raf cadet


Postcard photograph dated Christmas 1940


During the two world wars, servicemen and women were often separated from their relatives at Christmas and New Year – a difficult time for many families. If they could, they might post home a recent photograph of themselves looking smart in their service uniform, proudly demonstrating their important wartime role and also confirming that they were alive and well and thinking of their absent parents, siblings and sweethearts.




ww2 solider sudan


Postcard from the Sudan, Christmas 1941


Many wartime Christmas cards were postcards as this was the most popular photographic format of the #WW2 era. Special pre-printed Christmas cards were produced by the British army and could be personalised with a photograph of the sender, again posing in uniform.




family 1923 group photograph


Family group photograph sent to Australia and dated Christmas 1923


A photograph might also be sent at Christmas in times of peace, connecting families across continents. In the days before everybody owned a personal or household camera, a whole family might visit their local photographer and pose in the studio for a group portrait to send to relatives overseas at Christmas.




photograph woman grandma 1940s hat


80-year old lady, dated Christmas 1949


The ancestor above was proud to have her milestone 80th birthday recorded in a formal studio portrait in 1949, for which she wore a smart blouse and jacket and her favourite feathered hat. Later the same year, she sent out copies of the photograph to her relatives, along with seasonal greetings.

Christmas photographs tend to be meticulously dated, so we know exactly when they were taken, making them particularly special and useful family records.