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<2017 June>

by Maureen A. Taylor

More Links

# Sunday, 15 January 2017
On the Web: Breathtaking Panoramic Photos of Ancestors' Towns
Posted by Maureen

The next time you need a break, don't book a plane ticket. First take a trip into the past in a panoramic photo. The Library of Congress has quite a collection.

A panoramic photo can be a single image or a set of pictures aligned together that offer an expansive view of a place. For instance, this lovely view of Paris.

It's so detailed, you feel like you're there. 

Panoramic photographers sought the highest building with the best view. The puzzle in these pictures is often trying to determine exactly where they stood. Maps and other images offer helpful clues.

For a number of years I've researched a local Rhode Island photographer, Francis Hacker. Imagine my surprise to discover that he shot a series of five images of the Washington D.C. Mall from the Smithsonian Castle. Now I want to know exactly how he came to be the photographer of this lovely set. You can view it here.

The 1879 image captures a Washington, D.C., much different from the one we know today. Many of the familiar monuments haven't been built yet. Look closely at the center of this picture.  Recognize the landmark?

You guessed it: That tower is the Washington Monument under construction.

Search for panoramic images of your ancestor's hometown (or your own) at the Library of Congress website by entering the name of the city or town and panorama in the search box on the home page. Choose Photos, Prints, Drawings from the dropdown menu.

On the search results page, look to the left for filters that let you narrow your results by date and location. Tell me what you find.

Panoramic pictures exist from the 1840s and theyre still popular today. All you have to do is select the panoramic feature on your camera (or in the camera app in your mobile device).  Hacker and his contemporaries would be amazed.

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

  • 1870s photos | panoramic photos
    Sunday, 15 January 2017 21:43:50 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, 16 November 2014
    A Yard-Long Old Photo Brick Wall
    Posted by Maureen

    Cathy Jordan found three panoramic photographs in her father's old trunk. These oversize photos can cause eye strain and headaches as you try to find your relative in them!

    Thankfully, Cathy's been able to locate her father in two of them, but the third one baffles her. It's a group portrait of students at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. Her father lived in Conway, but didn't attend Hendrix.

    She photographed it in sections to make it easier for me to see it and share it with you.

    There are lots of clues in this long picture.
    • She contacted the Hendrix College archives. Staff told her that the building is College Hall. They looked in college newspapers and yearbooks for more information. The school's 1918 Troubador yearbook contains a photo that shows the same 18 band members. The archivist felt that this photo was taken around 1917-1918. At that time, College Hall was called Martin Hall.

    • The clothing clues and hairstyles agree with the 1917-1918 time frame.

    • One of the mysteries is why this is an all-male group.  Women attended the school at that time.

    These military style haircuts were very popular. Just about every young man in the picture has the same cut.

    In 1917, Hendrix was both a secondary school and a college. In the first image, you'll notice some boys who look younger than college freshmen.

    Hendrix did its part for the WWI war effort, building a Student Army Training Center during that 1917-1918 period.  At the same time, more than half the student population contracted the Spanish flu. Two died of it. 

    No one knows why this picture was taken.  There were no significant events at the school. The band played for football games and other school functions, but the all-male nature of the group rules out a school-wide event.

    Cathy doesn't know why her father owned the picture. He graduated from Little Rock Senior High in 1924. She has his report cards from the Arkansas Normal School, a teacher's college also located in Conway. Maybe this is a joint event between Hendrix and the Arkansas Normal School?  

    Today the Arkansas Normal School is the University of Central Arkansas. I'd follow-up with the university archivist and see if they have a copy of this picture.

    These yard-long pictures were very popular in the late teens and early 1920s. Identifying them is one problem but so is storing them. When I was a photo curator, we placed them in a large folder made from acid- and lignin- free cardstock in an oversize archival box. 

    Do you find vintage panoramic photos as fascinating as I do? Last summer I wrote about a panoramic photograph of the Pershing Family Reunion.

    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 | panoramic photos
    Sunday, 16 November 2014 18:35:19 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Sunday, 03 August 2014
    Family Reunions
    Posted by Maureen

    It's that time again: The every-other-year gathering of the Miller clan in Vermont. It grew from a gathering of siblings on a family farm in New York state to a cluster of cousins more than 60 years later. My husband's family is dedicated to keeping this tradition alive.

    Summer is the usual time for family reunions. In my husband's family we pose for photos in groups of families descended from the original siblings (all now deceased). Sitting or standing for family photographs is a time-honored part of a reunion experience.

    The photo below, from the collection of the Library of Congress, shows the Pershing family posing in 1923. It's a huge group of people, captured in a large panoramic image—these were quite popular in the early part of the 20th century. Today, panoramic images are usually found rolled up in a photo collection.

    For a better look at the original image, try this link. If you own one of these and no one has marked an X over the head of your grandmother or grandfather, it may take hours to figure out who's who.

    A short cut to start determining identities is to look at the center of the front row. That's usually where the oldest members of the family sit.

    While our reunion features photo albums of every gathering, there's a lot more we could do at the event. The Chart Chick, Janet Hovorka has Five Fabulous Family Reunion Ideas on her blog.

    As I head off for our reunion I have a few questions for you:
    • Have you ever attended or participated in a reunion?
    • What's the largest number of relatives in attendance? We usually have around 50 people with folks flying in from as far away as Australia! 
    • What type of family history activities take place at your family gatherings? The Pershings had an Infantry band on hand to entertain attendees:

    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

  • family reunion | panoramic photos
    Sunday, 03 August 2014 16:46:43 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]