Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

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Answering Writer’s Question: How to Find Someone from a High School Photo

Posted by Writing PIs on August 1, 2010

We’ve been “out in the Internet” teaching classes, meeting writers, fielding questions about private eyes and portraying them in stories.  We’ve had some great questions, one of which we’re sharing today on Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes.  A writer has a situation in a story where the only piece of evidence is a photo from an old high school yearbook, with girl’s first name written on the back of the photo.  The name of the high school is known, as well as the year the photo was taken.  The question: How would the PI in her story go about finding this person?  Below are a few ideas we offered:

Conduct an online reverse search on the photo: There’s an online reverse photo search engine (tintype.com) where one can submit a photo image, then search for other instances of that photo on the Internet. If all a PI had to go on was a photo, this might be a first search. For example, instances of that high school photo might show up in someone’s webpage, blog, a family reunion site, one of the many high school reunion sites, etc.

Research that high school’s yearbooks: A PI could go to the library in the town where that high school is located. Many libraries keep yearbooks for their local schools going back many years, sometimes decades. A PI could retrieve that high school yearbook, get a list of classmates’ names, find those individuals and interview them about the person (his/her activities, associations, romantic liaisons, and family members).  The PI’s search can be augmented by the use of online proprietary databases to search for the person’s classmates’ current locations as well as his/her current location.

Check with high school alumni organizations: A PI can check if there’s a high school alumni association (often, a high school website will also have a link to its alumni association). Then the PI would contact alumni members who are listed as contacts for the year/s the person attended high school, and ask these contacts about the individual (again, his/her activities, friendships, romantic liaisons, family members). We once found a person this way who’d attended a certain high school back in the 1960s.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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