Clued-In: Interpreting Real Photo Postcards from the Diaspora

Clued-In: Interpreting Real Photo Postcards from the Diaspora

As our ancestors moved throughout the world, they preserved their legacy with photographs sent or delivered to relatives in many other countries. Older studio portraits gave the impression of stability and permanence while newly introduced postcards often showed fleeting slices of life, perhaps en route from one place to another or from our ancestors’ own home base.

Sunday, May 19th, the Jewish Geneological Society of Colorado presents Clued-In: Interpreting Real Photo Postcards from the Diaspora with Ava Sherlock Cohn at the Denver Academy of Torah (DAT), 6825 E Alameda Ave, Denver. The program will run from 9:30 am to noon.

This talk, another in the “Clued-In” series from Sherlock Cohn, explores how Real Photo Postcards (RPPCs) were used by our relatives in such diverse places as Israel, South America, Russia, Romania, America, England, France and many other countries. We’ll learn what RPPCs are, how to date them, how to determine the place they were sent from, and what clues to look for that give us a greater understanding of the “new” technological invention that transformed how our families communicated, both in their formal and informal portraits.

Attendees should bring with them one or two of their old photos for possible analysis. Please, no military photos as these normally require more extensive research than the program time allows. Ava does more extensive analysis via email. The cost for this is determined by the complexity of the photograph, the number of clues in the photo, and what particular questions need to be answered by a full analysis.

Ava “Sherlock” Cohn

Who is Sherlock Cohn?

Ava Cohn, aka Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist, is an internationally-known professional genealogist who specializes in the dating, identification, and interpretation of family photographs and portraits. Working with professional genealogists as well as those interested in learning more about their family history, she uses a multidisciplinary approach that combines knowledge of immigrant and European cultures and traditions along with research-based fashion, family histories and vital records to tell the background stories within our heirloom photographs. Ava has a degree from Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, with studies in decorative arts, art history, and costume history at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.

She is a popular speaker and writer whose articles have appeared in numerous genealogy publications. On her article in the Fall 2010 issue of Avotaynu, The International Journal of Jewish Genealogy, publisher Gary Mokotoff wrote, “I had always been cool to the idea that this aspect of family history research had much significance, but after reading the article, I became a convert.” Editor Sallyann Amdur-Sack Pikus, called it “a stunning tour-de-force.”

Ava maintains an extensive library of primary and secondary-source fashion, furniture, military uniform and history references. Her personal family history locales include Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Romania and the Austrian Empire.

You can reach Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist, at

This program is free for members and $10 for nonmembers. Nonmembers can buy a ticket using a credit card at (preferred), send a check to JGSCO, or pay at the door.

About Staff

They call me "NewsHound IV," because I'm a clever Finnegan, sniffing out stories all over the Boulder area. I love Jewish holidays because the food is GREAT, especially the brisket. Well all the food. I was a rescue pup and glad to be on the scent!

Check Also



A new poem from Lisa Tramback

EXCHANGE Lifelong Learning presents Alan Arkin, The Man Behind the Scenes

EXCHANGE Lifelong Learning presents Alan Arkin, The Man Behind the Scenes

Join the Boulder JCC’s Summer Lecture Series on July 22 with Ron Bostwick, discussing Alan Arkin’s career and memorable roles; register online, the lecture is $12.