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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Thursday, April 12, 2007
Ladies First
Posted by Maureen

Often details other than what's pictured in a photograph tell you a larger story. Helene Armstrong thinks the seated woman here is her great-grandmother Margaret E. Jordan Stephens. A caption on the back of this photo reads "Ally, Rose, Mar." The "Mar" probably stands for Margaret, but Armstrong has no idea who the other women are. She's trying to research all Margaret's children, but there may be as many as 13.


Since Armstrong knows Margaret's husband's name and where the family lived, I began my photo identification work in census records, looking for children named Rose and Ally. Armstrong had already searched the census for 1860 through 1900, but I wanted to double-check.

Though I found Margaret and her husband Joseph in the 1880 US census for Georgia, living with 10 children aged 1 to 25 years, no daughters were named Rose or Ally. Both Margaret and her husband listed their ages as 47, suggesting a birth year of about 1833. This information will come in handy when trying to verify the rest of the evidence in the photo.

Along with the caption on the back of the image was a distinctive box for a stamp. It was easy to match up this stamp box with one on Playle.com, a Web site with an alphabetical and pictorial listing of postcard manufacturers.


Armstrong's "real photo" postcard (a photo with a postcard back) was manufactured by CYKO, which used this particular stamp box design from 1904 into the 1920s. This provides an initial date range for the photo. You can read more about postcards in As We Were: American Photographic Postcards, 1905-1930 by Rosamond B. Vaule (Godine, $45).

Next time, we'll narrow the date and see what this photo's beautiful backdrop can tell us. It's coming your way April 26.

You can weigh in on photo identifications on the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Photo Detective Forum. Post your own mystery photo, too—it might be selected for free analysis in my next column!

photo postcards | women
Thursday, April 12, 2007 9:24:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]