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# Sunday, July 10, 2016
Old Glory in an Old Photo: Details Revealed
Posted by Maureen

A big thank you to June Thomazin for sending me an article, "Mardi Gras Ball" from the Washington Times of February 11, 1917. The article lists the names of the women in the tableau imitating Henry Mosler's painting, The Birth of the Flag. 

In the last article, I mentioned the seated woman's light colored shoe as being from circa 1917. Seeing the date of the article made me smile.

As the "Star Spangled Banner" played, the women re-enacted this scene for the third annual Mardi Gras ball of the Washington Camp, No. 305, Sons of Confederate Veterans. According to the newspaper, the four women were Mrs. Andrew H. Plant, Mrs. Maud[e] Howell Smith, Mrs. George S. Covington and Mrs. Paul L. Joachim. 

But who were these women?


 
Only Maud Howell Smith used her own name, the rest went by their husband's names, as was common. If you've ever researched female ancestors who did the same, then you know finding their first names can be a challenge.

Hours later after searching GenealogyBank.com, FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com as well as Google, I have answers. Whew!

Mrs. George S. Covington was the former Janet Dorsey (1862-1941)

Mrs. Andrew H. Plant was a problem due to a misprint. In fact, her husband's name was Alfred. Double-check those newspaper articles before accepting the details as fact. Their daughter Olive, crowned the queen of the carnival, solved that case. Mrs. Plant was the former Mary Elizabeth Bond (1863-1942), born in Connecticut.

Mrs. Paul Joachim was the youngest of the four, born in Georgia in 1887. Her first name was Elmina.

Maud Howell Smith (1876-1966) was a remarkable woman. She rejected using her husband Eli's name at a time when husbands defined women's lives. Her name frequently appeared in the society pages for Washington, D.C.

In her later years, she acted in amateur theater. The Sunday Star (Washington, D.C.) of Jan. 4, 1953, interviewed her in an article, "Theater's Grand Old Lady Has a New Role." She had wanted to pursue a professional career as an actress, but her parents objected. Instead, she supported local theater groups and later lived her dream of being on the stage in amateur productions.

She drove an ambulance during World War I. She claimed in the article to have known every President since Benjamin Harrison. In 1953, she served on the Eisenhower Inaugural Committee. 

Her advice in the interview is timeless: "It's all very well to talk about what you've done in the past, but as a rule if you do too much of this, it means you aren't doing enough today."

Who's Who
 


Let's start by putting the women in order by their ages in 1917, then comparing that information to the collage/picture.

Elmina Joachim, 30

Maud Howell Smith, 41

Mary Elizabeth Plant, 54

Janet Dorsey Covington, 55

I have no other pictures of these women for comparison yet except for Maud[e]. I'm still looking. 


Maude Howell Smith as Columbia, 1919.

The two women on the left of the picture (and to the left in the collage) are the oldest so they are likely Janet Covington and Mary E. Plant.

The youngest woman (far right ) in both the collage and the picture must be Elmina Joachim. 

The woman in the center could be Maud Howell Smith.

The intersection of history, family history and photography all came together in this picture.  Lovely!


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 | holiday | women | World War I
    Sunday, July 10, 2016 7:05:28 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, July 03, 2016
    Old Glory in an Old Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    It seemed appropriate to write a column about the 4th of July and the American flag. It's a patriotic holiday with flags hanging in front of houses and bunting-wrapped porches.



    In the collections of the Library of Congress is this beautiful photograph of a tableau of four women sewing an American flag. They aren't really—it's just a pose.

    This image, called Birth of the American Flag, was taken by Harris & Ewing in an unknown year. They were well-known newspaper photographers. The Library of Congress has all but 400 of the 50,000 (!) images they took. The cataloging page lists a broad "created/published" time frame for this image of anywhere between 1905 and 1945. It's hard to know exactly when these women posed for this image if they used an older flag. Determining a tentative date comes down to the details--a shoe, beading and of course the stars on the flag.

    Counting the Stars



    If you own a flag, count the stars to obtain a time frame for it.  You can learn more about the history of our flag courtesy of this PBS documentary. A quick reference guide to when stars were added to our flag due to the addition of states is on USFlag.org. I've counted and double counted the stars in this picture, and I think it's a 48-star flag. How many do you count? 

    If that's the case, and the women are posing with a contemporary flag,  then this image could date anywhere between July 4, 1912, and Jan. 3, 1959. That gives us a starting place.

    The Shoe


    The woman kneeling to the left of the flag has exposed her shoe.  It's a calfskin shoe with a criss-cross upper and a Louis heel. Women wore shoes of this design with this heel from about 1908 to the 1930s, but I've found similar-style shoes dating from circa 1917 in Shoes: The Complete Sourcebook (Thames and Hudson, 2005) by John Peacock.

    The Beaded Dress
    While all the other women wear Colonial-style costume, the woman with the calfskin shoe wears a beaded dress with a wide collar. It's not a colonial design, it's from the 20th century.



    Dresses with diaphanous sleeves and lots of beading also could date from the WWI period. The collar is an interesting addition to this style of dress.

    I'm still looking for a few more details but it appears this picture dates from around World War I.

    There's one more interesting feature of this photo. All the women posed with their eyes closed.




    The Pose
    A sharp eyed reader, Teresa Shippey, found the source of this tableau. While I searched newspapers in a literal way for the "Birth of the American Flag," I didn't find what I was looking for.  I also did a Google Images search using the exact picture. No luck. Then again, not all images online are indexed in Google Images. Turns out I was being too specific in my searching.

    Teresa she used a general phrase "women sewing flag" in Google.  Teresa found the women based their pose on a painting by Henry Mosler titled, "The Birth of the Flag." 

    Why are they posed exactly the same way as the painting? She wondered (and I do too) if the women in the photo were models for Mosler's painting. Another possibility is that they were recreating the painting. Posing as famous paintings and sculptures was a pastime before radio and television so it's also possible that's what they are doing.

    The problem with the modeling theory is that the women in the photo seemed to have posed with a 48 star flag, not the 46 star flag used in 1911. It's hard to tell exactly the number of stars in the picture because part of the star field is folded over.  I'll continue to look for matches.

    How many stars can you count in the flag? Post your thoughts below.

    Happy 4th of July!  



    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


  • 4th of July | patriotic | World War I
    Sunday, July 03, 2016 10:54:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
    # Monday, May 23, 2016
    Memorial Day Tribute in 1918
    Posted by Maureen



    A quick search for Memorial Day photos on the Library of Congress website turned up this image. According to the cataloging record, the original was a glass negative, and on the envelope was a note suggesting this was taken by the National Photo Company on Memorial Day 1918.  It's a posed press photo of what seems to be a significant event.

    The letters on the women's sashes caught my attention. Downloading a high-resolution version of the photo from the Library of Congress website revealed the letters L, U, S, I, T:



    My mind immediately thought about the significance of the day and year of this image.
    • Memorial Day, a holiday that honors service men and women who died in the Armed Forces. Today it's the last Monday in May.  Originally called Decoration Day, after the Civil War this day was set aside to decorate graves with flowers. In 1918, Memorial Day was May 30, a Thursday.
    • In 1918, the world was battling in the First World War.
    • What event helped to turn the tide of American opinion against Germany, eventually pushing the United States into the war? The sinking of the RMS Lusitania, May 7, 1915. The women's sashes likely spell the ship's name.

    Searching for keywords relating to Memorial Day and Luisitania with the year 1918 on subscription newspaper website GenealogyBank gave me the answer. Bingo! This mostly unidentified photo now has a story.

    On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed and sunk the RMS Luisitania, an ocean liner returning to Europe with close to 2,000 passengers and crew on board. Bestselling author Erik Larson featured the tragedy and the events surrounding the sinking in his 2015 book, Dead Wake. Here's a panoramic photo of the ship at anchor in New York harbor in September 1907 for its maiden voyage. It shows the scale of this vessel compared to everything else on the waterfront that day. You'll find more images of the ship on Wikipedia.



    Some of the women in the first photo sit within a large wreath.  It was one of two of the wreaths made for the Memorial Day ceremony. The story appeared in papers across country including the Riverside Daily Press (Riverside, Calif.), May 30, 1918:
    Down on the peaceful Potomac two gigantic rose wreaths were set adrift, markers for the graves of the Lusitania dead. Daughters of the American Revolution launched the first: the crew of a British warrior the second.
    In the photo appear both the members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the crew of the British warrior. They posed for the picture before they set the wreaths in the water.

    Identifying the details and the story behind this picture required studying the clues: sashes and the history of the period.  The answer was in the news.

    How did your ancestors celebrate Memorial Day? Read local historical newspapers to learn more about the special events in which they participated. Using the details mentioned in those articles, go through your family photos looking for matches.
     


    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 | Luisitania | women | World War I
    Monday, May 23, 2016 4:55:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 09, 2016
    Piecing Together Old Photo Albums: A Challenge
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week, I collected images from individuals who'd found photos in their registration goody bags at the National Genealogical Society conference in Fort Lauderdale. As the images flooded in to my exhibit hall booth, it quickly became apparent that this was an enormous photo identification challenge. 

    Would it be possible to match up some of these images and recreate some of the original albums? Maybe. 

    Bins and boxes of miscellaneous snapshots that were left behind when someone died or discarded are in almost every antique shop and photo sale. I've watched sellers at photo shows pull apart old albums to sell the images individually. They don't know that albums tell a story and that by taking them apart they are discarding the context of the tale.

    I'd love to have a photo album owned by an ancestor, and I bet you would too.

    For two days, volunteers helped me organize those turned-in images. At last count there were 75 bags of recreated matches ranging from just two images to one envelope that contained approximately 20 images of a New Jersey family.

    Here's how we did it. If you inherit a large box of miscellaneous pictures, these tips might help you put them in order.


    unidentified image, circa 1920.

    • Watch for writing: There was handwriting on some of these images. By matching up the script, it was possible to group pictures captioned by the same person
    • Album corners: One person designed beautiful black photo corners, the remnants of them were still on the images.  They became another group.
    • Caption clues: A person with a flair for poetry wrote on the back of many images, creating a rhyme about the people depicted. You guessed it.  This was a matching clue.
    • Dogs, cars and people: We watched for similarly dressed individuals, thinking that photographers often take more than one picture on a given day. Yes!  That was case, now the challenge is to recreate the order of those images.  

    There were pets in some of the photos and they also served as an identification clue.  So did automobiles.

    • Background: One family posed relatives in front of a grape arbor for about 30 years. It was their own private photo studio. Another family posed in front of a brick house. After studying other clues, it was apparent that this posing in front of architectural elements was part of their family photo technique. Both groups of images represented the same family at different times. Bingo!
    • Photo format: Early 20th century images came in a wide range of sizes, but it was easy to group pictures by the same decorative border, the quality of the sepia tone or those mid-20th century black-and-white snapshots with deckled edges.
    • Photo developing number: After examining all of the above, we turned over the images and started matching developing numbers (those stamped numbers) on the back, cross-checking by image size and people. This resulted in many more matches.

    It's clear that many of the images people gave me were random photos, not part of any of the existing matches. There is still a lot of work to be done on the piles. I'm hoping for a few more picture connections.

    There are still photos out there. If you received one and don't want to keep it, perhaps you'd consider sending it to me.  Email me for instructions.

    I'll be back next week with the third installment of the German mystery.



    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


  • Vehicles in photos | women | World War I
    Monday, May 09, 2016 4:07:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  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]
    # 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, November 22, 2015
    Thanksgiving Shopping in Old Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    1919, Library of Congress

    This little girl is delighted with her Thanksgiving turkey but I'm not sure how I would have felt about carrying home a turkey complete with feet and head. Shudder!  A lot has changed in our Thanksgiving prep.

    The 1918 Fannie Farmer cookbook came with instructions on how to prepare poultry.  My grandmother's likely bought birds like this and did everything from cutting off the heads to cleaning out the cavity.  As a child I watched my father's mother singe off any remaining feathers from chicken whether they were present or not. It was a long ingrained habit and likely a cooking skill she developed early. 

    In addition to the turkey in this picture are a lot of clothing clues for the period. Take a good look at the girl's legs.  She's wearing long leggings beneath her dress to keep her legs warm.  In the background the woman looking at the action wears a plush (perhaps fur jacket) and wool hat decorated with botanicals (berries and branches).  Her dress is a little long for 1919, but it fashion sense due to the cold weather.


    1919, Library of Congress

    This young boy holds a thin but enormous turkey.  He's worn jacket and pants suggest that he could be working at the market rather than buying something for his mother.

    Neither child wears gloves! Wonder if either child got ill from handling raw poultry. They are unnamed in these photographs so researching their lives isn't possible.

    As you get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, ask older relatives about their roles in meal preparation and their childhood traditions. Download the free Storycorps app to your phone and join in the #TheGreatListen2015. Documenting our contemporary family history starts with a story.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


    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 | children | holiday | thanksgiving | World War I | storycorps
    Sunday, November 22, 2015 6:11:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, November 16, 2015
    Twentieth-Century Mustache Mania
    Posted by Maureen

    From the White House to Hollywood, mustaches of the 20th century were iconic and considered manly. The underlying message was that strong men wore facial hair. Teddy Roosevelt to Clark Gable and beyond, the presence of a mustache conveyed a sense of strength in personality and actions. Each of these men were facial hair fashion icons for their generation.

    Teddy Roosevelt
    One can only imagine the shock on Vice President Teddy Roosevelt's face when a photographer in 1901 suggested he shave off his mustache before being inducted in office. As President from Sept. 14, 1901 (after McKinley's assassination), to March 1909, his iconic facial hair set the tone for his time in office. He was a forceful personality in life and in politics.


    Library of Congress


    This poster is a collage of images of T.R. from childhood to the Presidency—from the long sideburns of his years at Harvard to the brush- style mustache that became equated with being manly.

    Charlie Chaplin
    Charlie Chaplin used his small under-the-nose mustache as a comedic element in silent films.

     
    The Tramp
    , 1914

    This style of facial hair is still known as a "Charlie Chaplin."

    Errol Flynn
    Errol Flynn's portrayal of dashing adventurers of the 1930s and 1940s wasn't complete without his iconic pencil-thin mustache. The look is named for him.



    It took careful shaving underneath the nose and at the top of the lip to get this tiny mustache just right. 

    Clark Gable
    Clark Gable's notable performance as Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind is memorable and so was his facial hair.


    Clark Gable with the 8th Air Force in Britain, 1943


    Like Errol Flynn, his mustache was an integral part of the characters he played in the movies.

    So which mustache did the men in your family emulate? The full brush mustache of T.R., the "Charlie Chaplin," the "Errol Flynn," or the look popularized by Clark Gable?


    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 | 1910s photos | 1920s photos | 1930s photos | 1940s photos | World War I
    Monday, November 16, 2015 5:23:03 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, September 22, 2014
    Photos of Our Ancestors Goofing Around
    Posted by Maureen

    Amateur cameras made it possible for our ancestors to relax in front of the lens. Goofy pictures abound in photo albums after 1900. Take this one, for instance:



    Laura Kettner sent in this picture of two women with their backs to the camera. They've put their coats on backward for this image. Why? We have no idea but this isn't the first photographic costume joke I've seen. There seemed to be a trend of goofing around in snapshots in the early years of the 20th century. 

    At a recent conference someone showed me two pictures. The first was a group picture of family members. In the second, the men were in the women's clothing and the women were wearing the men's clothing.

    At another event, a picture showed men and women wearing each others hats.

    Laura's aunt identifies the woman on the right as her great-grandmother Mabel Rheaume (born 1891). She has the same hair as Mabel in other images. On the left could be her future sister-in-law Audrey Kettner. Unfortunately, no one has an image of them facing front taken at the same time.

    The clothing dates the image to early in the second decade of the 20th century, between 1910 and 1917.  You can find short and long coats of this style in Sears Catalogs (searchable on Ancestry.com).

    In that time frame, Mabel was engaged to a man who died in 1917. She later married Joseph Earl Kettner (born 1899). If the woman on the left is Kettner's sister, then Mabel knew her long before she married him.

    Do you have a humorous photo in your family collection?  Email it to me. I'll feature it here.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | candid photos | women | World War I
    Monday, September 22, 2014 4:33:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Sunday, June 29, 2014
    World War I Women
    Posted by Maureen

    June 28 is recognized as the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which triggered beginning of World War I a month later. The United States didn't formally enter the war until April 6, 1917.

    womens land army.jpg

    When men enlisted in the service and left their jobs, women stepped in to take their places.

    The Women's Land Army formed in 1917 so that women could fill the agricultural jobs vacated by men. This poster was for a training school that prepared women for work as farmerettes. It shows women wearing shawl- collared dresses with pants underneath.  On their legs and feet are leggings and footwear similar to what their menfolk wore in uniform.

    Women participated in the war by serving in the Red Cross overseas, by filling clerical positions, working in the fields and acting as recruiters. In family photo collections are black paper photo albums that document these women's lives. 

    I've seen images of women in the Red Cross but not these farmerettes.  If you have one, I'd love to see it—click here to email me. I did a Google Image search and found great photos of women and girls being farmers including this one of Girl Scouts harvesting crops.

    The Women's Land Army lasted until 1921 and was re-established during World War II.

    According to Wikipedia, women who participated lived primarily in the West and Northeast, and many were college educated, because their colleges and universities formed groups. Many of these women also supported the suffrage movement.

    The fashion effects of World War I were felt in the United States long before the Americans went to Europe and changed the way men and women dressed.
    • military-styled clothing became fashionable.
    • large oversize coats like those worn by soldiers were commonly seen.
    • sailor-style and shawl-collared dresses and shirts for women can date a photo to this time frame. 
    • By the end of the war, women began cutting their hair shorter causing angst among the male population. 

    This centennial of the start of World War I is a great time to research your WWI ancestors. See our WWI research guides for soldiers and women in the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine.
     


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | World War I
    Sunday, June 29, 2014 5:22:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, November 17, 2013
    Old Family Photos on Postcards
    Posted by Maureen

    Frieda Tata submitted this lovely photo of two women and a girl for some advice. She knows the young woman on the right is her grandmother Mae Davis (born 1888 in Brownwood, Mo.). 

    This is a photo postcard.
     
    threewomen.jpg

    One of the most common questions about family photos is, "My ancestor had their photograph taken and it's a postcard. What does that mean?"

    I love real-photo postcards (RPPC) because there are several ways to date them. 
    • Real photo postcards debuted about 1900. That immediately gives you a beginning time frame for the image.

    • While the photo here was taken in a studio, it is possible your ancestor took their postcard photo themselves. Kodak's No. 3A camera, introduced in 1903, let amateur photographers take images and have them printed on postcard stock.

    • Flip the card over. Does it have a divided back for the address and correspondence, or is there just space for the address? This little detail can further refine the time frame. On March 1, 1907, federal legislation finally let postcard senders write messages on the back of the cards they sent. 
    •  Take a good look at the stamp box. The designs of those boxes can help date your image as well. They identify the paper manufacturer. For instance, AZO is a popular manufacturer.  Compare your designs to those described on the Playle website.

    • If the postcard was mailed, look at the stamp design and the postmark for a specific date.

    Mae's birth year suggests that this photo was taken circa 1908. I'd love an image of the back to see what clues it holds.

    Last week I wrote about women in World War I and featured photos of  Dora Rodriques. Thank you to Wendy Schnur for telling me more about the Holland-born actress who supposedly walked across the United States to promote recruitment.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | photo postcards | women | World War I
    Sunday, November 17, 2013 4:13:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, November 10, 2013
    Women in World War I
    Posted by Maureen

    What did your WWI-era female ancestors do in World War I? On Veterans Day, we typically honor the men and women who served in the military. But what about all the women who didn't serve, but supported the war effort?

    The theme of Who Do You Think You Are Live in London next year is World War I. Next year is the centennial of the start of the war in Europe (the United States got involved in 1917).

    During World War I, women:
    • worked in factories so men could enlist (and to support their families while the men were away)
    • volunteered for the Red Cross
    • worked as Army and Navy nurses
    • served the military in clerical positions
    • knit socks for the troops
    • participated in Victory Bond fundraising
    • marched in Preparedness Day parades to encourage U.S. involvement
    Women also acted as recruiters to encourage men to join the service.
    Young, attractive women often stood alongside male recruiters in uniform

    Dora Rodriguez was one of those recruiters. At the Library of Congress, there are three images of her in uniform taken by the National Photo Company. I'm sure the sight of a woman in pants and a uniform drew a lot of attention.

    dora rodriques 28170v.jpg

    dora 2 28171r.jpg

    dora 3 28172r.jpg

    Some who served overseas as nurses and Red Cross volunteers took cameras with them. Many women kept photo albums during the war.

    At the time of the 1910 census, most individuals with the surname of Rodrigues lived in Puerto Rico. A quick search of Ancestry didn't turn up any immediate hits for her. I suspect her birth name is something other than Dora.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | unusual clothing | women | World War I
    Sunday, November 10, 2013 5:27:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, August 25, 2013
    The Marsteller Old-Photo Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I outlined the mystery of the Ralph Marsteller photo.  This week I'm back with more details.
    StaffordFamily photo Ralph Reinhardt Marsteller_edited-1.jpg
    Let's start with some basics.

    What are they wearing?
    Clothing clues can be very helpful, BUT it's important to remember that there were lots of different styles every season and people didn't automatically wear the most current fashion. I look for details that help create a time frame. In this image, the most fashionably dressed woman is standing in the back on the far left.

    Staffordhat.jpg

    Fashion research suggests that this woman posed for this picture in 1918.  The lightweight fabric worn by everyone in the picture suggests a warm weather month. These little details could help pinpoint when Ralph Marsteller met his family or friends.

    In 1918, broad-brimmed hats with an upturned edge returned. You could buy a similar hat in the Sears Catalog for that year. Widespread collars were very popular on dresses in this period as well.

    stafford boy.jpg

    These lightweight suits for little boys appeared in mail-order catalogs circa 1914 and were still popular four years later. They were recommended for boys 2 to 6 years of age and cost approximately 70 cents. So this boy's attire places him in an age group.

    Who's Not in the Picture?
    Patti Stafford knows that Ralph's wife Eva isn't in the photo, and it doesn't look like their teenage son is here either—none of the children are the right age to be him. Nor is their daughter Arlene in this picture; these girls look too young.

    Who's Who?
    If this picture was taken about 1918, then Ralph's son Ralph could be the little boy in the military style suit. He'd be 5 years old.

    It's also possible that Ralph's sister is in the picture along with her husband and their children. More research into this angle could result in an identification.

    The older woman is not Ralph's mother. She was deceased by this time, but this woman could be an aunt who resembles some of the people in the photo.

    stafford older woman.jpg

    Ralph's mother Dianna Jane Rumfeld/Rumfield had sisters with small children at the time of this picture. This could be a gathering of the Rumfeld/Rumfields, rather than the Marstellers.

    Ralph's brother Henry is still living, so Patti's next step is to show him this photo to see if he can identify anyone in it.

    Research often turns up overlooked information. When Ralph's father William died, a Mr. Snyder was appointed guardian for him. While going through all the family paperwork looking for a connection, Patti found an interesting detail. Dianna Jane's marriage certificate states that her last name was Rumfeld/Rumfield. Her death certificate states that Dianna's mother was Louisa Snyder. This detail suggests that Snyder was a family member.

    I'm hopeful that Henry can put names with the rest of faces, but for now it looks like Patti has a picture of her grandfather and his father taken in about 1918.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | group photos | men | snapshots | women | World War I
    Sunday, August 25, 2013 4:30:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, August 04, 2013
    Foreign Photos in the Family Album
    Posted by Maureen

    This week I'm at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Conference. It's a huge event with folks attending from all over the globe. I love the international atmosphere and especially like looking at photographs taken around the world.

    Photos taken in foreign lands can be particularly challenging. Instead of showing you this week's photo immediately, I'm first going to break it down into clues. The image is one I purchase for my personal photo collection.

    foreign1.jpg

    The style of this woman's hair and the square-necked bodice and the fit of the dress identify a time frame of the early 20th century. Women who followed the current Parisian fashions and who lived in urban areas generally adopted western style dress. Even fashion-conscious women in rural areas might follow trends while others adopted the local cultural dress.

    foreign4.jpg

    Her hat rests on a chair. This additional detail narrows the time frame. Hats about 1910 featured wide brims and tall crowns with lots of trim.

    foreign2.jpg

    Men didn't always wear western dress. The style of this man's coat and even his mustache suggest a photo taken abroad (or one showing an immigrant in the United States). The insignia on his lapels are military.

    foreign6.jpg

    I could use a little help with the imprint. The photographer's information on a photo usually includes a name and address. Is there anyone who can read the Cyrillic on this image? 

    foreign3.jpg

    Here's the whole photo. The couple to the right are very fashionable folks for the second decade of the 20th century. The man on the far left and the young man in front draw attention because of their different clothing.  Photo studio props and backdrops vary around the world, but they usually include some basic similarities: a chair, something on the floor (in this case it's hay) and a painted backdrop.

     foreign7.jpg

    At their feet are the hats worn by members of this party. Two straw hats with wide bands and one military cap. That likely belongs to the man on the far left (see enlargement above). 

    Photos taken in foreign lands need careful study of every detail. You'll find more help in my book Family Photo Detective.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | hats | Military photos | women | World War I
    Sunday, August 04, 2013 7:07:06 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
    # Monday, May 20, 2013
    The World War I Era in Color
    Posted by Maureen

    May is the month of gardens and Memorial Day, so I thought I'd take a peek into gardens of the past. On the Library of Congress website, I discovered this gorgeous color image that depicts an important moment in the history of 20th-century gardening.

    editworld war 1 garden.jpg

    While commercially successful color photography was still a few decades away, early 20th century photographers relied on artistic mediums to add color to their images. Even early daguerreotypists colored their photographs.

    During the WWI period, hand-colored glass slides made everyday scenes come to life. In this lantern slide, two boys (one wearing roller skates) and a man read the notices for a garden.

    editworld war 1 gardencloseup.jpg

    They stand in Bryant Park, at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in New York City, in August 1918.

    Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) photographed this scene for us to illustrate a lecture to women's gardening clubs. She was a famous female photographer who took portraits of well-known figures throughout her career. She was also a proponent of historic preservation.  Sam Watters featured lantern slides by Johnston in his book Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 (Acanthus Press, 2012).

    The garden in this photo was part of the National War Garden Commission of 1918. While Victory Gardens are usually associated with World War II, they were also popular during World War I. People planted gardens in public places and at home. There were even rooftop gardens.

    You can read more about these gardens and their history in Gena Philbert-Ortega's From The Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes.

    Charles Lathrop Pack established The National War Garden Commission in August 1917. The war effected food production and he thought American's could boost output by creating small gardens. It's estimated that there were more than 5 million of these gardens during the war.

    You can view other WWI-era color images on the Library of Congress website. Browse the Frances Benjamin Johnston collection to see other examples of her work.

    If you have a photo of an ancestral garden, please submit it to me and I'll post it here.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books 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
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1910s photos | World War I
    Monday, May 20, 2013 1:23:43 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]