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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# 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]
    # Sunday, March 15, 2015
    Adding up the Clues to Identify an Old Mystery Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about the importance of knowing the lineage of your photos. The key details of provenance can keep you from making a photo identification mistake.



    Kimble DaCosta knows a lot about the photos she inherited. Her ancestor Ella Seamands identified most of the images in a chest that Kimble inherited, but there were a few that she didn't name. 

    In this picture, both the woman and the man look uncomfortable in front of the camera. Their discomfort could be due to the reason they posed for the picture or because sitting for a photograph was an unusual event in their lives.

    When identifying the photographic method used to create a 19th-century print, examine clues such as cardstock and the hue of the print. Trained photographic conservators use a microscope at 30X magnification will reveal in detail what an original print looks like at the fiber level. They also look at the surface character of the photo by viewing it flat at eye level.

    The purplish hue of this print suggests it could be either a gelatin or collodion printing-out paper, first available in 1885 and in use until 1920. 

    The clothing clues in this image date it to the late 1890s, when flat, pie plate-shaped hats with high trim were common. All the lace trim on this woman's hat suggests it was meant to be worn in summer. 

    This young woman wears fingerless gloves and carries an umbrella and a fan. While the gloves and hat are likely part of her wardrobe, I wonder if the photographer has supplied the umbrella and fan. She looks awkward holding them. 

    Let's say this picture was taken about 1897, and the man and woman are close to 20 years of age. This is a hypothesis that could help Kimble find the right people in her family tree. They would've been born in the late 1870s, with a little wiggle room on either side of the date.   

    I'm hoping this information leads to an identification. Next week I'll look at two of her other images.


    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 | hats
    Sunday, March 15, 2015 2:34:45 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, March 08, 2015
    Tips to Trace the Lineage of Your Photos
    Posted by Maureen



    Tracing the line of descent of your family is more than putting names and dates on your family tree.

    You can use those same genealogical techniques to trace the history of ownership—the provenance—of your pictures.  

    Knowing how a group of pictures came to be in your collection can prevent an identification mistake. You might assume that those cute photos came from your paternal grandfather's family, when in fact, they were once owned by your paternal grandmother's family. 

    Different collections of photos often get lumped together by well-meaning relatives. Studying clues such as photographer's imprints with locations or facial resemblances can help you sort out who's who. And if a relative gives you a box of pictures, ask how the photos came into that person's possession. 

    Kimble DaCosta has 300 pictures an uncle sent her. She'd only met him twice, but he'd heard she was interested in genealogy, so he sent her a chest that once belonged to her great-grandmother Ella Francis (Seamands) Friend (1863-1936).

    DaCosta knows a lot about who owned those pictures: Ella was the daughter of John Seamands (1834-1888) and Evalina Brown (1842-1911). She married Hanson Lincoln Friend (1860-1937). Ella had identified most of the pictures, but a few mysteries remained.

    When Ella died, the chest became the possession of Kimble's grandmother, Mabel Clair (Friend) Martin (1892-1871), who was married to Harry S. Martin (1892-1971). Both Ella and Mabel placed photographs and letters in the chest. Most of the photos were from the Friend and Seamands families, but some were from her Harry S. Martin's family as well.

    With so many identified images, Kimble already knows what family characteristics match different branches. Now that she knows the names of the families represented in the collection, the next step is to date and identify the last remaining images. Above is one of her mystery images that I'll write about next week.


    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


  • summer | women
    Sunday, March 08, 2015 8:26:02 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 02, 2015
    Photo Jewelry
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I showed you a picture of a piece of photo jewelry owned by Teri Luna and discussed a few clues. 


    Teri saw the column and wrote back with a few more details.

    This particular pin is 1 3/4 inches high and 1 3/8 inches wide.  In the photo it looks larger than that.  These small pins could be worn at the neckline or pinned to the bodice. 

    I suggested that this man could be either the father of John Waddell Brown or the father of his wife, Agnes Dunlop Drinnan Brown if either man was born circa 1810.

    Teri doesn't know too much about either man. Both were deceased at the time Agnes and John married in 1892. John's father, John Brown was a carting contractor but Teri lacks both birth and death information for him.  It's a classic case of genealogical research problems relating to a common name. His wife was Janet Waddell.

    Agnes' father, John Dunlop had a civic occupation as the Registrar of Births. He was born circa 1818 in Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland.  His wife was Catherine Fulton Dunlop.

    Both mother's were alive at the time their children married. The mystery remains. Who's depicted in the photo and who wore the pin? Janet or Catherine?

    Teri's determined to figure out this mystery. She's going through microfiche of town records looking for clues. She might want to consult FindMyPast.com too.  I found several possible matches for her ancestors including census records for the Dunlops.  Find My Past offers a free 14-day trial subscription.

    She's happy to know more about the pin and said, "We will treasure it forever."



    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

  • 1850s photos | photo jewelry | Web sites
    Monday, March 02, 2015 5:23:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, February 22, 2015
    Identifying Old Photos in Lockets and Brooches
    Posted by Maureen

    Teri Luna's grandmother Catherine Walker Brown Robson owned two pieces of photo jewelry. 

    Her locket contained two photos, one of Catherine and the other of her sister Jean. When Teri removed them, two other images fell out that had been stored behind the other pictures. One was Catherine's husband, William, when he was young, and the other was her brother George Andrew Drinnan in his WWI military uniform.

    The other photo jewelry, a pin or brooch, presents a mystery. Teri's not sure who's in this portrait: 



    Catherine was born in Dalziel, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1894, and immigrated to Canada with her mother, Agnes Dunlop Drinnan Brown. Teri is hoping that this picture shows Catherine's father, John Waddell Brown.  Brown was born about 1855 in Fintry, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

    People wore pins like this in both the United States and Scotland. But the pin dates to earlier than Teri thinks. Pins of similar design date from the 1850s to the early 1860s.

    Based on the man's tie and lapels, I'd date this photo to the early 1860s.  His under-the-chin beard connected to sideburns also was common during that period. In the United States, this type of beard was called a Greeley after newspaperman Horace Greeley.

    Because Brown's great-grandfather wasn't born until 1855, this man isn't him. This man is middle aged, with gray throughout his facial hair.  

    So who could he be? He could be Agnes Dunlop Drinnan Brown's father, or the father of her husband, John Waddell Brown. I'd need more information on their birth places and years to double-check the data against the photo evidence.

    If this image was taken in, say, 1863, and the man was in his 50s (let's estimate 53), then this man was born about 1810. This suggested birth year might help identify him in the family tree.

    The best resource for researching photo jewelry, such as lockets, charms, pins and brooches, is Tokens of Affection and Regard (2005) by Larry J. West and Patricia Abbott. Teri's family is lucky to have this gorgeous pin.


    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 jewelry
    Sunday, February 22, 2015 7:29:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]