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<October 2016>

by Maureen A. Taylor

More Links

# Monday, December 28, 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, December 28, 2015 5:00:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 02, 2015
Photo Jewelry
Posted by Maureen

Last week I showed you a picture of a piece of photo jewelry owned by Teri Luna and discussed a few clues. 

Teri saw the column and wrote back with a few more details.

This particular pin is 1 3/4 inches high and 1 3/8 inches wide.  In the photo it looks larger than that.  These small pins could be worn at the neckline or pinned to the bodice. 

I suggested that this man could be either the father of John Waddell Brown or the father of his wife, Agnes Dunlop Drinnan Brown if either man was born circa 1810.

Teri doesn't know too much about either man. Both were deceased at the time Agnes and John married in 1892. John's father, John Brown was a carting contractor but Teri lacks both birth and death information for him.  It's a classic case of genealogical research problems relating to a common name. His wife was Janet Waddell.

Agnes' father, John Dunlop had a civic occupation as the Registrar of Births. He was born circa 1818 in Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland.  His wife was Catherine Fulton Dunlop.

Both mother's were alive at the time their children married. The mystery remains. Who's depicted in the photo and who wore the pin? Janet or Catherine?

Teri's determined to figure out this mystery. She's going through microfiche of town records looking for clues. She might want to consult too.  I found several possible matches for her ancestors including census records for the Dunlops.  Find My Past offers a free 14-day trial subscription.

She's happy to know more about the pin and said, "We will treasure it forever."

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

  • 1850s photos | photo jewelry | Web sites
    Monday, March 02, 2015 5:23:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, February 22, 2015
    Identifying Old Photos in Lockets and Brooches
    Posted by Maureen

    Teri Luna's grandmother Catherine Walker Brown Robson owned two pieces of photo jewelry. 

    Her locket contained two photos, one of Catherine and the other of her sister Jean. When Teri removed them, two other images fell out that had been stored behind the other pictures. One was Catherine's husband, William, when he was young, and the other was her brother George Andrew Drinnan in his WWI military uniform.

    The other photo jewelry, a pin or brooch, presents a mystery. Teri's not sure who's in this portrait: 

    Catherine was born in Dalziel, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1894, and immigrated to Canada with her mother, Agnes Dunlop Drinnan Brown. Teri is hoping that this picture shows Catherine's father, John Waddell Brown.  Brown was born about 1855 in Fintry, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

    People wore pins like this in both the United States and Scotland. But the pin dates to earlier than Teri thinks. Pins of similar design date from the 1850s to the early 1860s.

    Based on the man's tie and lapels, I'd date this photo to the early 1860s.  His under-the-chin beard connected to sideburns also was common during that period. In the United States, this type of beard was called a Greeley after newspaperman Horace Greeley.

    Because Brown's great-grandfather wasn't born until 1855, this man isn't him. This man is middle aged, with gray throughout his facial hair.  

    So who could he be? He could be Agnes Dunlop Drinnan Brown's father, or the father of her husband, John Waddell Brown. I'd need more information on their birth places and years to double-check the data against the photo evidence.

    If this image was taken in, say, 1863, and the man was in his 50s (let's estimate 53), then this man was born about 1810. This suggested birth year might help identify him in the family tree.

    The best resource for researching photo jewelry, such as lockets, charms, pins and brooches, is Tokens of Affection and Regard (2005) by Larry J. West and Patricia Abbott. Teri's family is lucky to have this gorgeous pin.

    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

  • photo jewelry
    Sunday, February 22, 2015 7:29:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, September 20, 2010
    Wearing Family
    Posted by Maureen

    Pikecrop1 (2).jpg

    This is a fantastic family photo owned by Sharon Pike. It's actually a photo within a photo. In this card portrait, a stunning portrait of a well-dressed middle aged woman, Jane Rivers Meriwether (1829-1897) gazes directly into the camera. Let's look at some of the details.

    It appears she has naturally curly hair, but in this period the Marcel Wave was a popular hairstyle. It was invented by Francois Marcel in 1872, created using heated curling irons to form small waves. The style remained popular into the 1930s. You can read more about Marcel here.

    Collar and Dress
    In the late 1870s and early 1880s, wide collars were commonplace. However, they were usually white and made from fabric. This woman's collar looks like small threads woven and knotted, like macrame. She's used the collar to accent her dress, which is a lovely fitted bodice with small buttons and some fullness to the sleeve.

    All right, I admit it: I left the best detail for the end. Jane wears gorgeous drop earrings in what appears to be a floral pattern. Around her neck is a braided necklace made of either hair (yes, hair!) or silk. Both materials were common and popular. In the 19th century, women often wore jewelry made from the hair of their family and friends. Hair jewelry is a fascinating topic and the pieces are quite lovely. You can learn more about it and see examples in an online article from Victorian Magazine. These long braided ropes were often used as watch chains.

    The most prominent feature of this card photo is the piece of portrait jewelry at Jane's neckline. It's a large pin setting with a paper photograph of a middle-aged man. Photo jewelry came in all shapes and sizes. I'm particularly fond of it (although it often costs more than my pocketbook can bear <smile> ). The top experts on photographic jewelry are Larry J. West and Patricia Abbott. Their book, Tokens of Affection and Regard (published by the authors, out of print) took years to research and write.  It's a stunning volume filled with color plates of actual jewelry. You can view examples on the Smithsonian web exhibit based on their collection.

    Pike Pin.jpg

    The big question is "Who's the man on the pin?" Sharon wondered if it was Jane's father, who died in 1840, or could it be her husband, Ethelred Westcott, who died sometime between 1870 and 1895. He's a bit of a mystery man; Sharon doesn't have a specific death date.

    The dark color of her collar could mean the man in the photo deceased. Jane could have had this pin made from a small card photograph. The man's photo is difficult to see, but it could date from the early 1870s. His suit and tie are from that period. He has a full beard with lots of gray in it. I don't have a birth date for Westcott, but it could be him. Women often wore pins depicting children or a spouse.

    This photo of Jane Meriwether dates from the late 1870s or early 1880s. The light pink tone to the card and its gold trim makes me lean toward the late 1870s.

    You'll find advice for creating, sharing and saving your family's photographs in the Family Photo Essentials CD, from the editors of Family Tree Magazine and Memory Makers magazine.

    1870s photos | men | photo jewelry | women
    Monday, September 20, 2010 6:34:10 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]