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<2017 June>

by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, 28 December 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, 28 December 2015 17:00:44 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 12 October 2015
Annie Oakley and Your Old Photos
Posted by Maureen

What does Annie Oakley have to do with your family photos? More than you think.

Larry Calhoun sent a group portrait he thinks was taken in western North Carolina. It could be members of the Calhoun or Benfield family.  I took one look and said, "Whoa, that woman on the left is showing her ankles."

Take a good look and you'll see what I mean. Yes, that's a short skirt and boots.

 It's an unexpected link between Annie and this mysterious family group. This young woman may have had an idol and I don't mean the Kardashians. Annie Oakley. She was America's darling and a media superstar long before America's Got Talent.

A Radical Woman
In an era when oversize bustles and tight corsets hampered women's movements, Annie stood out as a symbol of a different life. Her short dresses and demurely covered legs as well as her role as a sharpshooter appealed to many women.  By performing in public, she lived a nineteenth century man's life in women's clothing. She was considered talented and feminine.  For the most part, frontier women in the backwoods, mid-west and western United States labored in heavy skirts, but Annie had freedom to run on stage and exhibit her shooting skills.

Born in 1860 to a Quaker family, she lost her father as a child. Her mother lacked financial resources so Annie was sent to be a servant with another family. One that turned out to be abusive. At 15, her shooting skills brought her fame.

An Arresting Appearance

Annie made her own clothes. Instead of long skirts, she designed shorter styles and often wore them with tights to cover her legs.  It reflected lady-like modesty. She managed to be revolutionary without calling attention to that fact.

Calf length skirts could brand a woman as a rebel. Reformers seeking the vote like Amelia Bloomer adopted full pantaloons named for her. Health advocates sought to improve women's health through dress reforms to allow exercise. Shorter skirts worn with a type of pant gave women like Civil War doctor Mary Walker the ability to do their job unencumbered by yards of fabric. The same was true for mill workers who didn't want to risk death getting their skirts caught in the machinery. Yet this type of attire was radical and dangerous. A woman could be arrested for dressing "male."

Frontier Women in Your Family
Instead Annie earned the admiration of both men and women who called her "Little Sure Shot." Her exploits appeared in newspapers and her appearance likely encouraged young women to don her clothing style. She advocated that women should learn to shoot. She taught more than fifteen thousand to do so. There is no doubt that the diminutive five foot tall Annie (and other female frontier heroes) inspired women to pose for photographs holding guns and to participate in shooting matches. She lived until 1926, an era where most women wore skirts above the ankles.

Calhoun's "Annie"
The next time you see an old photo of a  woman standing with a rifle, think of Annie. This young woman doesn't have a rifle, but she's wearing and Annie styled skirt. There is no clue in this picture that this woman could shoot. It's clear that she's not a child. While young girls could wear calf-length skirts, once they were older teens a floor length skirt was required for modesty.

We can't know for sure if Annie inspired this young woman's attire, but it's unlikely that she never heard of her. Annie traveled the country with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

If you want to search for more photos of frontier women check out the digital collection in the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library.

I'll be back next week to tell you about the clues that date this picture and how Larry can begin to find out who's who.  In the meantime, sort through your family pictures and see if  you have a young "Annie" look-alike in your photo albums. You can send them to me by using the "How to Submit Your Photo" link.

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

  • unusual clothing | women | Annie Oakley
    Monday, 12 October 2015 22:14:22 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]