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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, September 12, 2011
Friendship, Love and Truth in the Family Album
Posted by Maureen

Pam Rolland is working her way through family albums in the possession of her aunt. She reports that she's been able to date and identify many of the pictures in them, but still has a few mysteries.  

This is one of them. It was in an album with members of the Roberts family.

rolland.jpg

That particular branch of the family moved from North Carolina to Virginia then to Missouri, Arkansas and finally to Oregon.

Look closely at the man's accessory.  The clasp holding it on is three interconnecting rings.



That is a symbol of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a group I've written about in previous columns.  You can see these rings in Fraternal Membership Clues and in Fraternal Insignia. They stand for Friendship, Love and Truth.

The Odd Fellows are a fraternal organization that believes in charitable pursuits. You can read more about the history of the group and their mission on Wikipedia.

Photos of men in fraternal symbolism can be difficult to decipher. There is no comprehensive guide to these symbols.  Unless the accessories are easy to identify, tracking down what your ancestor is wearing requires extensive research into their lives. 
  • Obituaries often reveal membership in these "secret" groups. 
  • In the 19th century, a majority of men belonged to a fraternal organization. They were professional networks and offered support for members in need.
  • City directories are a great resource when trying to determine which groups had chapters in the area in which your ancestor lived. There is usually a list of local organizations in directories.
  • Many of these nineteenth century groups still exist so a quick Google search can provide you with contact information. 
Complicating Rolland's search for this man's identity is the number of places the family lived. In order to narrow down the possibilities she'll have to identify where this man might have lived in the 1880s (based on his attire and the card stock) and who in the family tree might be the right age to be him.


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | beards | organizations | unusual clothing
    Monday, September 12, 2011 3:03:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, June 14, 2011
    Contest Winner Revisited
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about Juliann Hansen's photo of men dressed like Native Americans. It's definitely a mystery. No real breakthroughs this week.

    Genealogy Insider Diane Haddad found another collection of Cincinnati Butcher Supply Company material at the University of California at Davis. A small group of material was donated by the Schmidt family in 2001. Alas...the photos in the collection date from the 1920s to 1950s, too late to be related to the men in the original image.
     
    contest winneredit.jpg

    Juliann's cousin Peggy is also curious about this photo. She owns a copy of an 1890 portrait of the men who worked at the Cincinnati Butcher Supply.

    cbs01 002.jpg

    I studied the two photos and didn't see any faces that jumped out at me as being the same men. A Nov. 17, 1939, article in the Cincinnati Times contained this image with a caption identifying a few of the men. The problem is, the caption was wrong. The middle boy is definitely Oscar Schmidt, Juliann's grandfather.

    So right now there are no answers. I'm back to considering fraternal organizations. The degree of undress in the first image suggests that women weren't present. Too scandalous for their delicate temperaments <smile>.



    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | men | organizations | props in photos
    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 8:46:37 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, March 15, 2010
    London Report Part 2
    Posted by Maureen

    On the last day of the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! family history show in London, I spent time in the military pavilion. The booths in the event are grouped by type of vendor. That means all the Irish vendors are in one area, Scottish in another, and all the general larger vendors are in the center of the hall.

    This year the military booths were all upstairs on the balcony. There were specific experts there to look at military memorabilia—badges, uniforms, and swords for instance. This is an interesting concept.  I'd love to see more military groups involved at US genealogy conferences.

    First stop was the Royal British Legion which had a display of poppies. This group has a travel group, Poppy Travel. They coordinate tours of military sites. Folks show them pictures taken during a war and they can put together a tour based on the locations in the images. I had a nice chat with Frank Baldwin of Poppy Travel standing next to the man constructed out of poppies.



    Next, I spent time in The War Graves Photographic Project speaking with Project coordinator Steve Rogers (below). If you have an ancestor who died in an overseas conflict and was buried there, this is a website worth a second glance. They are photographing all the non-US military graves. The website explains:
    The aim of The War Graves Photographic Project is to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, MoD grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day and make these available within a searchable database. 
    It's an ambitious project with the goal of documenting 1.75 million graves!



    The Royal Air Force Museum also had a booth. I collected information that may solve a friend's research dilemma.

    The Western Front Association booth drew my attention because of a large poster of the Missing Men of the Somme. It's a collection of pictures of men missing in action from World War I.



    This booth also had an online database of World War I cemeteries.



    I spent the rest of my trip visiting friends who took me to Windsor Castle and the area around Stonehenge. They've been recently bitten by the genealogy bug (gasp!). It's turning into a one-name study of their last name—Chun. Turns out there were only 40-something people with that surname in the 1881 British census. If you're researching anyone with the Chun surname, e-mail me.

    What a trip! I looked at lots of picture, gave a lecture, finally got to see Windsor Castle and learned a lot of new things.  I also bought new images to use in my lectures and articles. <smile> 

    I'll be back next week with a picture submitted by one of you.

    Genealogy events | Military photos | organizations | photo news
    Monday, March 15, 2010 12:41:12 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, July 21, 2008
    Spotlight on Family Health History--The Photo Side
    Posted by Maureen

    There was a very interesting story about Pio Pico, California's last governor under Mexico, in the July 19 Los Angeles Times. "What made Pio Pico so, well, ugly?" focuses not on the political happenings of his administration, but on how a daguerreotype of him helped identify a medical condition. It's fascinating!

    A neurologist compared a daguerreotype of Pico taken in 1852 with a painting of him from 1847 and another photograph from 1858. This doctor believes Pico had a condition called acromegaly, a pituitary tumor that caused his face to become mishapen. The pictorial evidence showed when he first became afflicted and when the pituitary tumor stopped growing. It's a great family photo tale.

    I've received several photographs from readers of individuals with obvious medical conditions or dental problems. I'm busy tracking down the clues in those images—he evidence in those photos may be pertinent to the owners' own health history.

    If you have a medically related photograph, e-mail it to me. I'd love to see it. 

    The Mütter Museum was founded by the College of Physicans of Philadelphia to help educate physicians. While their digital database currently contains images only of doctors, according to their Web site, the picture collection "contains images from the history of medicine, including portraits, buildings, groups, and historical subjects." A photo book, Mutter Museum Historic Medical Photographs (Blast Books, $50) is available. Be prepared: Some of the images are disturbing.


    men | organizations
    Monday, July 21, 2008 4:59:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 19, 2008
    Fraternal Insignia
    Posted by Maureen

    Linda Matthews was just one of the people who answered my call for pictures of ancestors in fraternal uniforms. She inherited this wonderful photo of her cousin Carl Lager.

    051908lager.jpg

    Carl was born April 23, 1854, in Sweden, and died Feb. 15, 1935, in Henry County, Ill.  According to a short biography of him in the three-volume History of Swedes in Illinois (published in 1908 and available on Google Book Search), he was a Mason, a Knight Templar, an Odd Fellow, a Knight of Pythias and a Mystic Shriner.

    He also was a Major in the Patriarchs Miiltant, the uniformed branch of the Odd Fellows. Matthews wondered about his uniform in this photo and suggested it's Patriarchs Militant attire.



    She's right. The three interlocking rings is the symbol for the Odd Fellows while the symbol on his hat identifies the specific group within the organization.
     
    051908head.jpg

    You'll find photos of the insignia on his hat online .

    men | organizations
    Monday, May 19, 2008 4:56:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, August 21, 2007
    FGS Conference Roundup
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne Indiana and saw lots of folks who told me they regularly read this blog. Thank you!!  The content of this space is determined (in part) by the photos and comments you post to the Photo Detective Forum. Keep the ideas coming!

    At my lecture on "Genealogical Clues in Family Photographs", many of the attendees said they posted family photos on DeadFred.com in the hope of reuniting with "lost" family members.  Dead Fred is probably the oldest photo reunion site on the Web.

    If you haven't taken a look at what's in that online archive, you might be overlooking a valuable resource. Thousands of people search for family photos every week.

    One of the new kids on the block is a site called WeRelate, a collaborative venture with the Allen County Public Library. WeRelate is a wiki, which means anyone can add content and edit pages. Think of it as a type of social networking site for genealogists.

    WeRelate lets users to upload gedcom files and  documents. I particularly like the feature that lets you upload and annotate images. You can find out if any members of your family are participating by going to the WeRelate Web site and searching for your family surnames.


    organizations | Web sites
    Tuesday, August 21, 2007 6:12:50 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]