Free Updates

Let us tell you when new posts are added!

Email:

Navigation

Categories
May, 2015 (4)
April, 2015 (4)
March, 2015 (5)
February, 2015 (4)
January, 2015 (4)
December, 2014 (4)
November, 2014 (5)
October, 2014 (4)
September, 2014 (5)
August, 2014 (4)
July, 2014 (4)
June, 2014 (5)
May, 2014 (4)
April, 2014 (4)
March, 2014 (5)
February, 2014 (4)
January, 2014 (4)
December, 2013 (5)
November, 2013 (4)
October, 2013 (4)
September, 2013 (5)
August, 2013 (4)
July, 2013 (4)
June, 2013 (5)
May, 2013 (4)
April, 2013 (5)
March, 2013 (4)
February, 2013 (4)
January, 2013 (4)
December, 2012 (5)
November, 2012 (4)
October, 2012 (5)
September, 2012 (4)
August, 2012 (5)
July, 2012 (5)
June, 2012 (4)
May, 2012 (4)
April, 2012 (5)
March, 2012 (4)
February, 2012 (4)
January, 2012 (5)
December, 2011 (5)
November, 2011 (4)
October, 2011 (5)
September, 2011 (4)
August, 2011 (5)
July, 2011 (5)
June, 2011 (6)
May, 2011 (7)
April, 2011 (4)
March, 2011 (5)
February, 2011 (3)
January, 2011 (5)
December, 2010 (4)
November, 2010 (5)
October, 2010 (4)
September, 2010 (4)
August, 2010 (5)
July, 2010 (4)
June, 2010 (5)
May, 2010 (4)
April, 2010 (4)
March, 2010 (5)
February, 2010 (4)
January, 2010 (4)
December, 2009 (3)
November, 2009 (5)
October, 2009 (4)
September, 2009 (4)
August, 2009 (5)
July, 2009 (4)
June, 2009 (5)
May, 2009 (4)
April, 2009 (5)
March, 2009 (6)
February, 2009 (5)
January, 2009 (5)
December, 2008 (4)
November, 2008 (4)
October, 2008 (6)
September, 2008 (5)
August, 2008 (5)
July, 2008 (4)
June, 2008 (6)
May, 2008 (5)
April, 2008 (5)
March, 2008 (4)
February, 2008 (4)
January, 2008 (5)
December, 2007 (4)
November, 2007 (4)
October, 2007 (6)
September, 2007 (4)
August, 2007 (4)
July, 2007 (5)
June, 2007 (4)
May, 2007 (3)
April, 2007 (2)
March, 2007 (1)

Search

Archives

<May 2015>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
262728293012
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31123456

by Maureen A. Taylor

More Links










# Monday, May 25, 2015
A Memorial Day Tribute
Posted by Maureen

Today we equate Memorial Day with the start of summer, but it's important to recognize it as a somber occasion as well.

A few years ago I wrote about the roots of the holiday in Decoration Day  1868.

First Decoration Day.jpg

This stereograph from the Library of Congress shows the first Decoration Day, held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868.

Create A Memorial Day Tribute
One of my favorite parts of the Fold3.com website in their Honor Wall. It's a simple concept with a powerful impact. Upload a photo of an ancestor who served then add a biography of the person, records that mention them, stories about them and personal details. You've created an online memorial for your men or women in uniform. Click the green button at the bottom of the screen to link the profile you've created to Ancestry.com.

Before starting a new memorial search the site to make sure someone hasn't already created one for your ancestor.  Search by name or narrow by war/conflict first.

Search for Photos
My family has been lucky. A number of our ancestors served in the military from the Civil War to today, but they all came home safely. I have images of the men in my family that served from World War II to the present, but lack pictures from earlier conflicts. Here's a few strategies I use to try to find those missing pics.
  • Know where my ancestor was living at the time he (or she) served. This allows me to check local and state archives for documents and records.

  • Find proof of service. Whether it's a book that lists Civil War soldiers or a pension record, knowing the name of the regiment in which they served is helpful.

  • Search. Service details provide specific detail that allow you to search on Google for images taken of that regiment/unit, search auction catalogs online or find re-enactment groups. Amazing items turn up at auction including an album of every member of a Maine regiment.  (Still wonder who bought THAT!)  Members of re-enactment groups often research the men that served in the group they are recreating. This can lead to new information and perhaps a photo.  

  • If at first you don't succeed try again...  About once a year I run all the names of the people I'm looking for through databases like Ancestry.com, do another Google search and try local historical societies again. Why?  New material turns up everyday so it's worth a second look.

I'm still hoping to find a picture of the red haired ancestor described in a pension record who served in the Civil War. 


Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • Civil War | Military photos
    Monday, May 25, 2015 4:42:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 17, 2015
    The Wright Brothers and Old Photos
    Posted by Maureen



    In the early part of the 20th century, three members of the Wright family were among the most famous individuals in the country (if not the world).  Orville and Wilbur's patented flying machine demonstrations on both sides of the Atlantic brought thousands of people to fields to watch them fly.

    Their schoolteacher sister Katherine flew more than any woman of her generation. The three of them stand together in this 1910 photo from the  Library of Congress. If you want to see the Wrights' original patent drawings, they're avilable online through the Google patents search. Their aerial demonstrations mesmerized the public and made our ancestors believe in the future. 

    David McCullough's new book, The Wright Brothers, presents the brothers as ordinary men with extraordinary focus, determination and passion. Many men of their generation tried to perfect manned flight, but Orville and Wilbur Wright were first to actually do it.

    Their exploits even influenced a fashion trend. When Mrs. Hart O. Berg accompanied Wilbur Wright on a flight in 1908, she tied her scarf around her dress at the ankles to keep it in place.  It's possible that the French fashion designer Paul Poiret saw Mrs. Berg and Katherine Wright tie down their skirts. He created a short-lived style known as the Hobble skirt.



    It was difficult to walk in these narrow skirts. This postcard calls it a speed-limit skirt because women could take only baby steps. If you see a photo of an ancestor wearing a skirt of this design, you'll have a narrow time frame for an image of 1910 to 1913.

    Our ancestors had fashion icons that influenced everyday dress. Both Orville and Wilbur Wright dressed neatly for their flights. Wilbur always wore a high-necked collar with a tie, a jacket and a cap. While full-crowned caps were available before the Wrights took flight, they increased in popularity throughout the second decade of the century and beyond. The style of the brim and crown changed in later decades.

    Watch for these fashion trends in your family photos from the circa 1910 period. If your ancestor passed on stories of seeing the Wright brothers in flight, please let me know.


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1910s photos | Airplanes | unusual clothing | women | Wright Brothers
    Sunday, May 17, 2015 2:53:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 11, 2015
    A Click Away: Eight Years of Photo Identification Clues
    Posted by Maureen

    Every week I sit down to write a new blog post about picture mysteries.  On this blog that archive goes back eight years. That's a lot of photo clues and picture facts!  It's easy to use this blog as a free resource.  Here's how.

    • Below that is a list of categories. It's a list of blog posts by month and year in reverse order from the most recent all the way back to March 2007.  The number in parentheses refers to the number of blog posts in that month. Click any of the months to see all the posts for that period.
    • Scroll down past the dates and you'll find a list of subject headings used with each post.  Click any of those to go to all the columns that cover that topic such as 1840s to World War II.
    • Use the search box at the bottom of the sidebar to find more specific articles. I always include the name of the person who submitted the photo and the name of their ancestor.  Online family reunions are possible. Why not search for your surname using the search box to see if there are any hits?  A distant cousin may have submitted a photo mystery. 
    • You can also Google it!  Search "Photo Detective blog [and the surname you're looking for].   

    Over the years I've covered common photo identification clues, popular ID mistakes and written about how even the tiniest details can reveal family history. Take a look at past columns and let me know which one is your favorite.

    Thank you for reading!



    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • photo news | photo-research tips
    Monday, May 11, 2015 4:22:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Old Photo Mysteries and Genetics
    Posted by Maureen

    At the recent New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) I met Pat McHugh.  She told me about a very interesting image in her family collection.  The name of the couple is currently unknown.



    Their clothing and the studio setting suggests it was taken in the late 1860s. The pair was likely born in at least the early years of that century.  It's not their attire or the setting that makes this image stand out.

    Take a good look at the woman in this carte de visite

    Have you spotted anything unusual about her hand?



    She has six fingers on her right hand. The extra digit is on the outside of her hand, so according to the Wikipedia page on polydactyly, her condition is known as postaxial polydactyly. The incidence is only .6 per one thousand births for female Caucasian births, and it's considered an autosomal recessive trait. 

    This woman wasn't alone. There are many famous individuals who were born with an extra digit and a good number of fictional characters as well. Anne Boelyn's extra finger may be a myth.

    I'm hoping that armed with a date, Pat can determine who they are on her family tree. Unfortunately, the additional digit is unlikely to be mentioned in any documents. There don't appear to be any stories passed down in the family about this woman either. 

    This one image is a reminder to study all the details in a picture very carefully for unusual identification clues.  What's the most unusual thing you've found in a family photo?


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1860s photos | unusual photos
    Sunday, May 03, 2015 10:55:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [3]
    # Sunday, April 26, 2015
    Wavy Hair in Old Photos: Spot the Right Decade
    Posted by Maureen

    The next time you curl your hair, think about the success of 19th-century hairdresser Marcel Grateau. In 1872, he turned hair tongs upside down when styling a stage star's hair, and created a trend that remained popular for more than 50 years!



    Last week I discussed Jim DeVogt's funeral card for a woman named Jane Early. He'd like to know if this photo shows Jane Early. 

    Right away her hairstyle stood out. It's the Marcel Wave. In this circa 1878-1880 image, this fashionable young woman not only shows off the latest hair fashion, but also a very trendy collar.

    Religious motif jewelry also was worn in the 1870s. Her choice of accessories could be fashion or faith.

    Jane (Darcy) Early, born in Ireland in 1828, died in Wabasha County, Minn., in 1891. Is this Jane? The big question is, how old do you think this woman is? If this photo was taken in 1878, Jane would be 50. I think this woman looks too young, but everyone ages at different rates.

    Provenance could be key. This photo is from Jim's aunt, who inherited it from her mother, who had been married to Hugh Darcy. There are multiple marriages between the Darcy and Early families. The aunt thought that the photo album in which this image appeared had once belonged to the Early family, but the last member of that family died in 1906.

    I'd love to see your pictures featuring the Marcel Wave. Send in your pictures of women from the 1870s through the 1930s wearing the Wave through the ages using this blog's How to Submit guidelines.

    You can learn more about using hair to date your old family photos from my book Hairstyles 1840-1900


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1870s photos | 1880s photos | 1930s photos | hairstyles
    Sunday, April 26, 2015 9:24:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, April 21, 2015
    Photo Clues in 19th-Century Funeral Cards
    Posted by Maureen



    Funeral cards are nothing new. In the 1860s, mourning cards were popular after the assassination of President Lincoln, but not to announce the death of an average person. By the 1880s, though, it was fashionable to print cards to memorialize relatives.

    This funeral card dates from 1891 and is printed on the type of cardstock also used for cabinet card photographs.  While this card features just life and death dates for Mrs. Jane Early (and a poem), it's not unusual to see cards with floral arrangements or photographs of the deceased taken while still alive.

    Dark cardstock was popular in the 1880s and doesn't necessarily declare an image to be a memorial card. White or cream card stock was also used. The presence of a death date on the item is what confirms it to be a funeral card.

    These card were handed out at funerals or sent to friends and relatives to announce a death. The use of this style and format peaked during the cabinet card era of 1880 to 1900.

    Thank you to Jim TeVogt for emailing this card!


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1890s photos | Abraham Lincoln | mourning photos
    Tuesday, April 21, 2015 4:58:38 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, April 13, 2015
    Labeling Old Photos: A Good Deed
    Posted by Maureen


    Along the bottom edge of this photo someone wrote: "Noland...Ohio."  One of the problems is that on the back Melanie Ohm's mother and aunt wrote that this image depicts Martha Ann Noland Hammond (1843-1870), George Hammond and Mary Hammond as well as a statement: "This would be the Noland family background." Melanie recognized their handwriting.  It's a good idea to include your name and date when labeling images so that future generations will know who wrote them.

    Melanie suspects her aunt was guessing. If this photo dates from circa 1860, then it could be an image of her Noland ancestors who had three siblings.

    Unfortunately it's not from the 1860s.  Here are three fashion clues that help pinpoint a time frame.  The size and format of the photo are not typical for the 1860s either.
     

    The neck scarves worn by the women date from the late 1870s to the early 1880s.  The man's tie is also typical for that period. 

    That places the photo around ten years after the death of Martha Ann. It's obvious that Melanie's aunt believed that this photo represented the Noland family.  There must have been something about the image that led her to that conclusion.

    I can't wait to hear from Melanie to see if this new date identifies the folks in this family portrait. The 1880 census might offer clues to their identity. It's searchable on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.



    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1880s photos | men | women
    Monday, April 13, 2015 3:15:48 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, April 06, 2015
    Finding Gold in Old Family Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Family photos can depict a single individual or a large group. While we think of them in terms of our family history, large group portraits might be important to other families as well. Take this photo of a group in Shaws Flats, Calif.



    Shaws Flats was a Gold Rush town in the 1850s that has a reputation for being one of the richest gold areas. Sarah G. Dunster's family settled there sometime in the mid- to late-19th century and they stayed until the mid-20th century. Her last relative in Shaws Flats died in 1985. 

    She's trying to figure out who's in this image and when it was taken. her grandmother Julia stands on a log holding a child.



    Sarah wonders if this image was taken in the 1870s or later. The clothing clues in this image definitely rule out the 1870s. Here's a close-up of the women in the group.



    The young woman on the left dates the picture. She's fashionably dressed for this town; the other women are in everyday dresses and the men are in work clothes. I can't help but wonder who she is and why she's so well-dressed. She's also the only woman not wearing a well-worn apron, and she even wears a restrictive corset to cinch her waist. Outfits like this, complete with a tie, were common in the mid-1890s. Given her appearance it's possible she worked in a store or an office.

    Since Sarah had relatives living in Shaws Flats in 1900, I'd look at the 1900 census to see if it's possible to identify other people in the image. I'd start with the children and add approximately five years to their estimated ages to see if they appear in the census. Of course, it's possible that some of these people moved out of the area between the time of the photo and the census, but the census is a good place to start.

    I'd also post this image on a Facebook page at a low resolution. If there isn't a page/group for Shaws Flats, then this would be a good image to start one. Sarah will be able to connect with other people whose families lived there and maybe collect some local history. She also could edit the image and post the individual faces on the page as an identification puzzle. 

    Love these group pictures that show the life of a community and how ordinary folks lived.  Here's one more closeup of men with work tools in hand.




    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1890s photos | Gold Rush | occupational | women
    Monday, April 06, 2015 5:13:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, March 29, 2015
    Facial Features as an Old Photo Identification Clue
    Posted by Maureen

    Who do you look like? I'm my father's child from the nose up and my mother's child from the nose down.

    Often, looking at family photographs will trigger a familiar response: "Ah, that's where I got that nose" or "those blue eyes." 

    Using facial features to identify family photographs is often a difficult assignment. It's all about adding up the evidence—clothing, photographer's imprint, format, etc.—and then comparing faces in photos.

    There are more than 20 points in a face worth comparing. Eyes, noses, mouths and ears, as well as the spacing between them, can be key clues. 

    Richard Rainsberger owns this picture of Amanda Lash Newhouse (1862-1945):



    The photographer, Rief, first opened his studio in Canton, Ohio, in 1902.  These types of photo mounts were quite common in the early 20th century. Amanda Lash Newhouse wears a lovely printed cotton blouse with a high neckline, a style popular in the first decade of the 20th century.

    Recently, a cousin gave Rainsberger this unidentified photo of a young woman:



    Amanda had one daughter, Zelma, born in 1884. Could this be her?
    Let's look at the faces more closely.

    Using Pixlr.com, I created a collage of their faces. What resemblances do you see?



    We inherit qualities from our mothers and our fathers (and our other ancestors). I see a similar smile and nose on these two women, but do all the facts add up?

    The unidentified woman likely posed for this picture in her late teens or early 20s. The yoked bodice and high collar suggest it was taken in the first decade of the 20th century, just like the photo of Amanda Newhouse.

    Newhouse's daughter was born in 1884. Add 20 years to that birth date and you get 1904, a likely date for the photo.

    There's no photographer mentioned on the unidentified image.

    I'm not sure how Richard and his cousin Rob are cousins. That last bit of information would help identify the provenance of the mystery picture. Who owned it before Rob and what other photographs was it passed down with? I can't wait to find out.

    This could be a picture of Zelma—which would make two genealogists very happy.

    Here are the two images side by side.





    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1900-1910 photos | women
    Sunday, March 29, 2015 3:19:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 23, 2015
    Using Women's Collars to Date Old Family Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    The last two images blog reader Kimble DaCosta sent me are from the same period, but show off two different collar styles: one from the mid- to late 1870s and the other from the late 1870s to early 1880s. Both photos are tintypes.

    You can read the first two installments of DaCosta's photo story: Adding Up the Clues to Identify an Old Mystery Photo and Tips to Trace the Lineage of Your Photos.

    Here are this week's two images:

     
    1876-1878



    1879-1882

    The collar clues help determine the time period.


    Every year brought many fashion choices. Women were inventive when adapting their current clothing to fit the trends. When dating clothing in old photos, it's important to watch for the details and to add up all the clothing clues. 

    In the first photo, the dress features a high neckline with a scarf tied around the neck. This was common during the late 1870s. The long bodice, called a polonaise, is paired with a shirred skirt.

    We can't see the skirt in the second image, but the woman wears a lovely ruffled tubular collar, common in the early 1880s. Her fitted bodice features a single line of center buttons. Her skirt would've had some trim as well.

    Another type of collar popular in the early 1880s was called a fichu. It was usually lace and extended to the shoulders.

    Both women in these photos are young, likely in their late teens or early 20s.  These ages and the date ranges for the photos give DaCosta a starting point to search her family tree for possible identities.


    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1870s photos | 1880s photos | women
    Monday, March 23, 2015 6:15:22 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]