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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, February 07, 2016
RootsTech 2016 Wrap-Up
Posted by Maureen

More than 26,000 people attended this year's RootsTech conference, the largest US genealogy conference, held in Salt LakeCity and produced by FamilySearch. Your eyes aren't deceiving you: 26,000. That's a lot of genealogists.

Three days of lectures, a full day of Innovator Summit presentations and an amazing exhibit hall. Thank you to everyone who stopped by my Photo Detective booth to say hello!

Pictures were everywhere. Many booths had photo props and selfie sticks so you could take pictures of yourself to post to social media or email to family and friends.  

RootsTech's focus on innovation means it's possible to see and try out all these new products. Many of semi-finalists for the Innovator Showdown incorporated photos into their products. Here are three of my favorites:
  • Scribbitt is an online journaling platform. Tell your family story in words and pictures. Share it on social media or privately with relatives.  Use contemporary photos to chronicle your life or write about ancestral pictures.
  • The History Project brings together all your stuff—artifacts, photos, stories, video and more to create interactive narratives. Tech Crunch, CNN and the New York Times all gave this idea positive reviews.
  • Twile came all the way from the U.K. to promote their site. Build a colorful family history timeline with unlimited photos, historical data and add your GEDCOM file (or build your tree on their site).  They were a finalist.
  • Tap Genes won first place in the competition. A simple idea with long range implications. Chart your family's medical history or your own personal medical issues. While there is definitely a genealogical component to this, it can also help to know medication lists for older relatives in an emergency. This is a company to watch.



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


  • timelines | Web sites
    Sunday, February 07, 2016 4:38:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, January 31, 2016
    World War I Uniforms for Little Boys
    Posted by Maureen

    A few months ago I featured a picture of a little boy in a German style military uniform and discussed how boys could dress like the servicemen in their family.

    Paul Daraghy sent in three photos of his father wearing a miniature World War I uniform complete with belt and insignia on the cap.



    Albert Daraghy poses in this 1919 school photo taken at the Grant Elementary School in Dumont, NJ. He holds a hand-colored red, white and blue shield, something he likely created in class. On the photo mat, an eagle holds the U.S. flag.

    These two patriotic symbols were commonly seen during World War I and for several years afterward.
     
     

    Here he stands on a roof top in full "uniform." This type of attire was sold through the Sears Catalog and other mail-order or department stores. Similar style uniforms sold in the fall 1919 Sears catalog cost $6.95. At a time when fathers, brothers and uncles were serving overseas, their sons and little brothers could play the part.
     


    In approximately 1917-18, Albert and his brother Charles posed in identical uniforms in Dumont, NJ.  A handwritten note on the back says, "two little soldiers."

    The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917 and remained involved until the end on November 11, 1918.


    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


  • children | Military photos | World War I
    Sunday, January 31, 2016 8:42:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, January 24, 2016
    Old Photos in Print: A Collection of Tips
    Posted by Maureen

    One of the first tips for finding images (photographs, engravings, and paintings) of your ancestors is to start at home and branch out from there.  Those images could be hiding in plain sight on everything from passports to licenses.

    You're probably wondering when you can expect to find pictures of  relatives on those records. For instance, a common question is, "when were pictures first included in school yearbooks?"

    Use this handy guide to when various types of family history documents began to include pictures.

    Newspapers and Books
    Long before pictures appeared in print, editors hired artists to turn  photographs into engravings. You can find examples in early family histories and local histories. Civil War newspapers and magazines featured engravings of famous folks and battlefield scenes many based on photographs. 

    Photomechanical engravings that looked more like the original photographs appeared in 1880, and actual photos appeared in papers around 1919.

    Yearbooks
    In the mid-19th century, class books at Ivy League colleges contained actual images, carte des visite and cabinet cards. It wasn't until around 1919 that mass-produced yearbooks with photographs were common. Check school archives and local historical societies for copies.

    Immigration Paperwork
    If your great-grandparents liked to travel outside the country, it's possible to find their pictures in a passport created after about 1918. For more information on passports see the National Archives website.

    If your immigrant ancestor applied for citizenship and received it after July 1, 1929, his or her naturalization papers will include a photo.

    Drivers' Licenses
    New York city issued the first paper drivers licenses to chauffeurs in 1910. You can view these licenses in "The Evolution of the New York Driver's License."

    There's more information on how to locate other ancestral picture sources in Searching for Family History Photos How to Get Them Now!


    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


  • 1850s photos | 1880s photos | 1910s photos | Civil War | Immigrant Photos | newspapers | school photos
    Sunday, January 24, 2016 6:06:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, January 18, 2016
    Research Family Photographers in Old Newspapers
    Posted by Maureen

    The name and address of a photo studio usually found on a card photograph contains clues to help you learn more about when and where a picture was taken. That information can narrow a time frame for a family photograph.

    While city directories are a standard resource for leaning more about when a studio was in business at a particular address, don't overlook using newspapers as a source. A directory features names, addresses and sometimes advertisements, but an article can give you more details about their business.

    Here are a few reasons to look at the news.

    Historical Obituaries
    An obituary will mention details about a photo studio that you won't necessarily find in a directory such as why a studio opened to what happened after the owner died. You might find facts about when the photographer moved to the area in which your ancestor lived or if the studio traveled the countryside looking for customers. These little bits of information provide a span of dates that you can narrow further by looking at clothing clues and your family history information.

    Advertisements
    A specific word in the imprint can refer to a particular type or style of picture. For instance, gem referred to tiny tintypes about the size of your thumbnail, but later in the nineteenth century the word also referred to tiny paper photographs on card stock. Following a photographer in advertisements can give you a date for the first time that studio offered that service.  If you're curious about how much your ancestors paid for a picture look at the ads. In the Louisville Daily Courier for June 9, 1858 you'll find several ads for studios offering ambrotypes (a picture on glass) with prices ranging from a quarter to fifty cents.

    Articles
    News reports can take the form of a history of a particular business to profiles of the owners. When looking for information on the Manchester Brothers studio of Providence, RI using GenealogyBank.com, "Holiday Notices" in the Providence Evening Press for December 15, 1875 popped up in a search. This piece mentioned local shops  to visit for Christmas gifts including Manchester Brothers photographs and images on porcelain. 

    Newspaper Databases

    Digital newspaper archives exist in many forms from huge databases on Ancestry.com, GenealogyBank.com and Newspapers.com which all require a membership to the free database offered by the Library of Congress, Chronicling America.

    • Start with a specific search then broaden it if you don't find results. Narrow the time frame using advanced search features and quotation marks around keywords.

    Also look for statewide newspaper resources like the California Digital Newspaper database mentioned in last week's post on the King Family. Start by searching "digital newspaper archive" and the name of the town in which the photographer operated.
    • If you don't find a newspaper for the appropriate town, try contacting the local historical society or public library to see if they have newspapers in their holdings.

    Pay It Forward

    If you blog or participate in social media, publish your research online so that other genealogists can find it. There is no comprehensive publication for all photographers, so your research is really important.  It can spare another genealogist from starting their search from scratch.

    You'll find more tips on researching family photographs in The Family Photo Detective. 


    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


  • ambrotype | newspapers
    Monday, January 18, 2016 3:41:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, January 10, 2016
    King Family Photo Clues Found in a Newspaper
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week's blog post featured three King family photos in Mary Roddy's collection. They lived in Amador, California and Douglas, Alaska.

    The photos proved that two branches of the family stayed in touch despite the distance. Alice Devlin King and her maid of honor Mary Jane Fields were more than cousins. They were friends.

    Alice, her husband Nick, and their children including daughter Sadie moved to Douglas, Alaska seeking new opportunities.  The two photos depicted here suggest that mother and daughter came back to California for a visit. But when? 

    likely Sadie King, circa 1900


    Alice King, circa 1900


    Historical newspapers revealed when the family visited, how long they stayed and who came for a visit. The proof was in print.

    Small town newspapers featured a lot more than national and local news. They published news of the members of their community as well as visitors.  You guessed it!  The visiting family made the news not once, but twice.


    The Amador Ledger (April 20, 1900) published a short bit about Amador news section: "A grand farewell reception was tendered to Mrs. Nicholas King and family on Tuesday evening at Fallon's hall. They departed for their home in Alaska this morning." You can view the newspaper in it's entirety through the California Digital Newspaper Project.

    The Daily Alaska Dispatch (Juneau, Alaska) published a notice when the King family returned to Douglas. " Mrs. King, Miss Sadie King and the children returned from a six months visit in California, on the Cottage City last night." You can read this article if you're a subscriber to GenealogyBank.com

    Mary Roddy is a lucky genealogist. She has a narrow six month time frame for those two pictures. Mother and daughter posed for pictures to share with their relatives.  

    The circa date I placed near those two photos can now become a definite date of 1900. 

    Reading historical newspapers can reveal more about your family history than you might realize. In Mary's case, it dated two photos in her collection. Digital newspaper collections make it easy to locate unexpected family history discoveries.  Take a minute to search for your relatives in the news and let me know what you find. 




    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 | newspapers | unusual photos
    Sunday, January 10, 2016 10:39:17 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, January 04, 2016
    The King Family: Sorting Through The Clues in Three Old Photos
    Posted by Maureen


    Photographs can provide proof of close family relationships among cousins now long forgotten. Sorting through the clues in one family's collection and digging deeper into genealogical research sources solves one picture mystery for genealogist Mary Roddy. She knows a lot about her family history but one mystery picture had hoping it was her great grandfather.

    Mary's great grandmother Mary Jane Fields (born 1854) along with her parents sailed around Cape Horn at the tip of South America in the late nineteenth century to eventually settle in Amador, California.  In 1875 she was maid of honor at her first cousin, Alice Devlin's marriage to Nicholas King there. Unfortunately, there are no known images of the wedding.

    The discovery of gold in Juneau, Alaska in 1880, attracted people to the fast growing community of Douglas, Alaska including the King family who moved there in 1888.  Despite the distance between Amador and Douglas, this picture is proof that Mary Jane and Alice stayed in touch. 

    This photo of Nick and Alice King taken for their 50th anniversary was in Mary Roddy's collection and in the collection of a direct descendant of the couple.

    With family in both Alaska and California, two other pictures in Mary's collection posed a mystery.

    Alice taken circa 1900.
    The dress bodice and sleeves suggest that date. But this photo generates a lot of questions:
    • What is Alice doing in California?
    • Could she be visiting relatives? 
    • Is there proof of that trip?
    • If this photo is Alice could the unknown photo (below) in Mary's collection be her great grandmother Mary Jane Fields?

     
    This photo was also taken circa 1900.

    The big problem with this picture depicting Mary Jane Fields is that by 1900, she'd be 46 years of age.  The woman in this picture is likely only in her late teens or early twenties.

    So who could it be?  Next week's clue solves the mystery.

    1900-1910 photos | 1920s photos
    Monday, January 04, 2016 3:10:02 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 28, 2015
    A Year's Worth of Photos: 2015
    Posted by Maureen

    This was another amazing year of photo columns.  Thank you for sharing your family pictures and for re-posting your favorite photo detective blog posts on social media. Can't wait to see what 2016 will bring!

    Here's a month by month overview of your favorites. Please click links to see the full stories.

    Imagine moving and leaving photographs behind. It happens more often than you'd think possible. January's first post featured a portrait of a man found in a house. He's still a mystery.

    February's post on photo jewelry explained how you can read the clues both in the photos and the settings to discover when a piece of jewelry containing a picture was made and/or worn.  Sometimes pictures were replaced in jewelry settings.

    Comparing faces whether you do it using software or just using your eyes can be tricky. Family resemblances can lead to misidentified pictures. Here's what you need to know to sort out the twenty plus points in a person's face. 

    In April a Gold Rush town picture yielded clues for one family. If you had family living in Shaw's Flats, California, you might spot a relative in this group picture.

    DNA is this year's most talked about genealogical topic but inherited traits can show up in pictures too.  A six-fingered ancestor in one family collection was full of identification clues. 

    June brought clues to help you spot a blue-eyed ancestor in a picture.  Try these tips with your photos.

    It took Michael Boyce to make the right connections to solve his family photo mystery. Here's how he did it.

    One of the most challenging clues in a picture are military uniforms. There were no standardized uniforms in the nineteenth century, but August's column lays out three techniques to sort through the evidence. 

    The clues in September's graveside photo fit together to tell a story of one family's funeral, just not the one the family was expecting. Read all about it.

    Our ancestors dressed like their favorite popular icons from politicians to performers. See how this one young woman dressed like Annie Oakley and see if you can spot these clues in your own collection.

    November focused on facial hair. Imagine writing today's Presidential candidates to influence their facial hair fashions. That's exactly what one little girl did. The true story of Abraham Lincoln's beard is noteworthy.

    Nineteenth century brides didn't usually wear white. They wore nice clothes and so did their grooms which means that wedding pictures are often overlooked in family collections. In Wedding Clues: 1855 Peter Whitmer and his bride Lucy Jane McDonald dressed to the nines for their nuptials.


    1840s photos | 1850s photos | 1860s photos | 1900-1910 photos | Abraham Lincoln | Annie Oakley | beards | daguerreotype | facial resemblances | Gold Rush | group photos | jewelry | men | Military photos | mourning photos | photo jewelry | photo-research tips | wedding | women
    Monday, December 28, 2015 5:00:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 21, 2015
    Santa Claus Through the Years
    Posted by Maureen

    The depiction of Santa has changed a lot over the years from a thin person with variously shaped beards to the icon we recognize today. He didn't always wear red. According to Holiday Symbols by Sue Ellen Thompson (2000)the modern depiction of him is a combination of the English Father Christmas, the German St. Nicholas and the Dutch Sinter Klaas.  Technology brought kids a new way to imagine Santa by giving them new fictional interpretations and ways to listen to him.  Here's an overview of this loved Christmas character.

    In 1843, Charles Dickens featured him as "the ghost of Christmas present" in a green robe with a wreath on his head in the original Christmas Carol.

    Wikipedia "Santa Claus" accessed December 21, 2015

    By 1868 children no longer had to dream of sugar plums, their parents could buy them. The United States Confection Company used an illustration of a white-bearded Santa wearing a tasseled hat standing astride a reindeer led sleigh as an advertisement for a sweet treat. 

    Library of Congress

    The twentieth century solidified Santa's look as a full figured, white bearded fellow. The Christmas 1901 Puck magazine featured an angry looking Santa with children and a baby.  Toys and books were popular gifts.  Notice the Victrola held by the bespectacled boy.  The National Jukebox project of the Library of Congress allows us to listen to Gilbert Girard aka Santa Claus tell us about his toy shop (1918).




    L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz, wrote a new Christmas classic in 1902, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus which is available on the Internet Archive.  It was adapted for a film of the same name in 1985.

    The new century brought Santa to the movies too. You can find a list of him in early films on Wikipedia. Who can forget the first time they saw, Miracle of 34th street? 

    This holiday, have fun gazing at these old depictions of Santa, listening to his voice and sitting down with family to watch a classic film.

    Happy Holidays!


    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


  • 1840s photos | 1890s photos | 1900-1910 photos | Christmas | Santa Claus
    Monday, December 21, 2015 2:53:27 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 14, 2015
    Little Boys in Military Dress in Old Photos
    Posted by Maureen



    Patsy Ellinger's picture of 3-year-old Paul Robert Engemann and his older brother Karl Engemann, age 5, is a charming portrayal of two little boys playing dress up. It was taken circa 1902. Both boys wear miniature military uniforms, copying those likely worn by soldiers in Silesia, Prussia.  This is nothing new.

    During the U.S. Civil War, mothers could make their son's Zouave outfits like those worn on the battlefield.


    Godey's Lady's Book January 1862


    Dress-up was more than play-time activity. Children often wore costumes for community events. The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario,  currently has an exhibit Mirrors with Memory: Daguerreotypes in Canada. One of the images on display shows a group of boys dressed in historical costumes taken in 1855. You can see it here.

    To relive your childhood dress-up kits look no further than the Sears Catalog. You can browse your childhood holiday wish list using the catalogs on Ancestry.com.

    The photo of the Engemann boys captured them in one of their last moments in Prussia. Their widowed mother brought the two boys to the United States in 1903. Karl served as an American soldier and died in 1918 during World War I.

    If you have photos of your ancestors dressed-up as children, I'd love to feature them. Here's how you can submit them.


    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


  • 1850s photos | 1860s photos | 1910s photos | children | Military photos | World War I
    Monday, December 14, 2015 2:19:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, December 06, 2015
    Wedding Wear, 1855
    Posted by Maureen

    Lumber merchant Peter Whitmer (born 1828) and his bride Lucy Jane McDonald (born 1837) had the means to pose for two portraits when they wed in February 1855. In the first, the couple posed alone.

    Peter sits with top hat in one hand and his other gloved hand rests on the shoulder of his bride. Lucy looks contemplative, with her chin resting on one hand.



    In the second wedding portrait, they posed with best man Dr. Charles Parke and bridesmaid Margaret McDonald, Lucy's sister. In the same year, Parke was commissioned a surgeon for the Russian Army during the Crimean War. His diary of the California Gold Rush has been published as Dreams to Dust.

     


    Look closely at both portraits and you'll see the details in this well-dressed couple's wedding attire. Lucy wore a plaid dress with a wide lace collar and an open bonnet with silk interior that framed her face.

    Peter's wide, horizontally tied silk neckwear was very fashionable over an upturned collar. His long frock coat and patterned vest was suitable for a wedding or formal business dealings. His hair and that of his best man reflects the popular style, long and combed into an upward peak on the top of their heads.

    In 1855, most brides married in the home surrounded by family and friends. Clothing for the occasion was similar to everyday attire, but if the couple could afford it, outfits included a few extra touches such as a nicer fabric, silk trim or special lace. 

    While both of these portraits look like paper photographs, the originals would have been shiny reflective daguerreotypes. Candace LaPrade shared other pictures of Peter Whitmer for last week's column.

    Six of Lucy and Peter's seven children lived long lives.  In 1900, their children and grandchildren gathered for a portrait.
     


    The little girl sitting second from the right in the front row is Candace's grandmother. Peter and Lucy are in the center.



    Candace's grandmother wrote down all the names of the individuals in this group portrait and kept that paper in an envelope with the picture.

    Candace is one lucky genealogist! She has multiple pictures of some of her ancestors and information to go with them.


    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


  • 1850s photos | 1900-1910 photos | family reunion
    Sunday, December 06, 2015 8:50:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]