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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# 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, March 03, 2013
    WDYTYA London and a Launch
    Posted by Maureen

    What a busy week! Last week at this time, I was walking through Shakespeare's birthplace recovering from two action-packed days of looking at photos at Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London.  I have some pictures to share.

    As soon as I came home a new project launched: The Last Muster series of books that focus on images of Revolutionary War era folks is becoming a documentary. Genealogy Insider Diane Haddad shared the news. 

    If you're curious about what it's about, watch the trailer in Diane's post and read Judy Russell's blog post at The Legal Genealogist.

    Back to London.

    Guess who I saw when I was there?  Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine podcasts AND Janet Horvoka of Family Chart Masters, aka the Chart Chick. It was cold in London, thus my fleece jacket and scarf.

     WDYTYA1.jpg

    English genealogists love a certain American product too. Couldn't miss this booth:

    WDYTYA2.jpg

    Love to Learn, an English company specializing in online education, gave us a nice place to work with photographs. James Morley of What's That Picture.com and I met with folks on Friday and Saturday. The lines were long again this year. People waited up to two hours to show us their photos.

    WDYTYA4.jpg

    WDYTYA3.jpg

    We saw some amazing pictures, such as the pair of painted daguerreotypes held by these women.

    WDYTYA5.jpg

    This year I decided to count the number of pictures we saw. The total for the two days was over 500!


    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

  • cased images | Photos from abroad | Revolutionary War | unusual clothing | women
    Sunday, March 03, 2013 6:40:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, June 11, 2012
    Jean-ealogy: Ancestors in Blue Jeans
    Posted by Diane

    When I was working on my book Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album, I spent a lot of time looking for all sorts of clothing examples.

    As one of the photo shows, I found this picture of a man wearing what looks like blue jeans. Today jeans are an American export, possibly our most popular clothing style overseas.


    The ancestor of the jeans we wear today dates back to 1873. Levi Strauss, an 1840s German immigrant, immigrant is responsible for our blue jean obsession. He sold canvas pants reinforced with copper rivets, which were strong enough to withstand the rigors of mining. You can learn more about the history of these pants online.

    During the Civil War, there was a cotton twill called jean cloth. The man in this late-1860s image wears an overcoat and trousers that look like they are the predecessors of the canvas jeans. 

    In his right hand, the man holds what I think is a divining rod for looking for water.

    Got a picture of an ancestral family member in blue jeans? I'll feature it here in a timeline of the pants in family photos. Email me your picture with a brief description.


    1860s photos | Civil War | hats | men | occupational | props in photos | unusual clothing
    Monday, June 11, 2012 6:23:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 03, 2012
    Westward Bound! Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree
    Posted by Maureen

    This week I'm off to the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree and a meeting of the California Genealogical Society. I hope to see you there! Please stop by my booth at the Jamboree to say hello.

    All this California travel makes me think about western American style clothing worn in family photos—in particular Stetson hats, jeans and frontier bonnets. Do you have a photo of someone dressed for the West?  I'd love to see it. You can email me.

    I love the story of the Stetson hat. It's an example of American ingenuity. John B. Stetson, son of a Philadelphia hat manufacturer, took a trip West to recover from consumption. He showed his companions how to make felted fabric and created a hat from that material.

    In 1865, Stetson founded his hat company. He called his hat the "Boss of the Plains." It wasn't a new design: Similar style hats were worn by Army units, and wide-brimmed hats were also popular on plantations because they offered shade.

    It was Stetson's marketing efforts that made his hat a success. He wore his hat everywhere and each hat bore a gold leaf Stetson on the inside to mark it as authentic.

    stetson.jpg

    Wearers could use them to retrieve water for washing or drinking, earning them the nickname, "10 gallon hat."

    You'll find more information on Stetsons and other types of western hats in my book Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900.


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

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

  • 1880s photos | men | unusual clothing
    Sunday, June 03, 2012 5:39:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Wednesday, March 28, 2012
    Graduation Caps
    Posted by Diane

    It's the last week for hats. It's also your last chance this month to save 10% on Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900. Use HAT10 as the coupon code when ordering from ShopFamilyTree.com

    I've blogged about a lady in a fancy hat, a young man in a felt hat and two men wearing work hats. You're probably wondering what's next.

    A graduation cap!

    graduation caps.jpg

    This image, from the collection of the Library of Congress, is from about 1860. I love the young man's blue bow tie and red tassel. He's smiling for the camera with a toothy grin. That's something you don't usually see in a 19th century picture.

    Notice the stripe down his pant's leg? He wears military style trousers. It's possible he's a cadet.

    ehow credits the contemporary mortarboard to 15th-century France and Italy. The term "mortarboard" comes from its shape—it looks like a piece of equipment that a bricklayer uses for mortar. Today's graduates wear tassels that reflect their school colors. Some students personalize their caps, too.

    I hope you've enjoyed this month's worth of hats. I'll be back with other caps, hats and bonnets this year.


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

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

  • 1850s photos | 1860s photos | hats | men | unusual clothing
    Wednesday, March 28, 2012 12:59:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 12, 2012
    Hats and Hair
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week the focus was work hats for men. This week it's all about the ladies.

    When I go photo shopping, I love to find more than one image of the same person.  I have two images of this woman—one in a hat and one without her hat and jacket.  They show the relationship between hairstyles and hat trends.  The shape and style of women's hats were influenced by the current hair and vice versa.


    woman in hat.jpg
    There is something intriguing about hats from the 1880s.  They can feature high crowns, small brims and lots of trim.  In this case it's a plush fabric decorated with feathers and botanical elements.  It's not unusual to see stuffed birds on them as well. Women raised these birds at home to sell them to the hat industry for stuffing.

    In the second image, the same woman has taken off her hat and sits for the photographer without her jacket as well.
    woman no hat.jpg

    She wears the same drop earrings and ruffled collar so it's likely she posed for both on the same day.  Her frizzy bangs stuck out from under her front brimmed hat.

    Both images were taken by Alman, a photographer with studios in New York and Newport. The affluent families of New York City built mansions in the city by the sea, in Rhode Island so it makes business sense for Alman to maintain his customers in both locations.

    If you want to learn more about hats or hairstyles from different periods check out my Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats, 1840-1900 or Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles, 1840-1900.  There is a special offer this month in ShopFamilyTree.com.  Enter HAT10 as a coupon code for 10 percent off the Bonnets and Hats title.

    It's also part of the ShopFamilyTree.com deal of the month: Spend $30 on these select products and receive a free Family Tree Problem Solver book download!


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

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

  • 1880s photos | hats | unusual clothing | women
    Monday, March 12, 2012 2:02:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, February 20, 2012
    Foreign vs. American Fashion
    Posted by Maureen

    My mind is focused on packing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London.  I'll be at this dynamic trade show for three days and I'll be presenting two lectures—one about online picture research and the other on writing your family memoir.  Can't wait!!

    While I'm in London looking at pictures I thought it would be a good time for a quiz. I've been to WDYTYA three years in a row looking at pictures.   It's been a learning experience.  The number one question folks ask me when I'm there is "what's the difference between American and English fashion?" 

    No, not all Americans dressed in Western style hats. 

    Photographic methods vary just a bit. Daguerreotypes weren't as common in England as America, but early paper photographs were available from 1839 on. The American invention, the tintype, also wasn't as popular in England. 

    Clothing is a little more difficult. The differences can be subtle or dramatic.  Everyday dress is about the same, but occupational dress has several distinctions.

    So...here are two pictures.  Vote in the comment section below and tell me which is a British man and which is American.  I'll weigh in when I return. 

    Photo one
    meninhat2.jpg

    Photo two

    maninhat.jpg

    (If you like these hats you should see the ones in my new Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900. It's available in the ShopFamilyTree store. Click the link below.)

    If you happen to be in London, stop by the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! photo gallery and say hello.

    Thank you for participating in my Silly Old Photo contest on my website. It's not too late to vote.  I've extended the deadline until the day I return.


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

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

  • Immigrant Photos | men | unusual clothing
    Monday, February 20, 2012 2:03:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [32]
    # 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]
    # Monday, March 28, 2011
    Uniforms in the Family
    Posted by Maureen

    It's not too late to enter your ancestral bad hair photos in my blog contest. See details in last week's post. I can't wait until you see what folks sent in! 

    In the meantime, it's time for another photo mystery. This one is a 20th century challenge.

    Nancy Yates sent in a few pictures of her father, taken when he was about 15 years old, between 1930 to 1932. In the first one, he's standing alone wearing a uniform with plain sleeves.

    yates1.jpg

    In the second he's wearing a different uniform with hash marks on the sleeve indicating his rank of corporal. He's standing with his sister.
    Yates2.jpg

    yates3.jpg

    The mystery is the uniform. It doesn't look like a Boy Scout uniform. It's too bad I can't read the pin on his hat or the badge on his other sleeve. 

    Nancy knows her Dad once served in the Civilian Conservation Corp as an adult. Men had to be at least 17 years old to serve in the CCC.

    So what uniform is it? I'm not sure. There were several groups for teens in the 1930s. The 4-H Club, the Future Farmers of America and the Junior Birdmen of America are a few prominent groups, but this uniform doesn't represent any of those organizations. A great book on the period is William H. Young and Nancy K. Young's The 1930s (Greenwood Press, $25.00).

    One lead is a group sponsored by the American Legion. They formed the Air Cadets in 1933, to train young men as pilots in case of war.

    Do you have any ideas? I'm still looking.


    1930s photos | children | unusual clothing
    Monday, March 28, 2011 7:12:50 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [12]
    # Monday, January 31, 2011
    A Double Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    This week I'm researching a very interesting family photo of two men clowning for the camera. Sandy Forest showed me this image at an event over the weekend and I couldn't stop thinking about it. She's pretty sure about the identity of the man on the left, but the man on the right is a mystery. And why is he holding a spike and wearing an interesting hat? The clues really pile up for this photo, so consider this week's post the first installment of a multi-part series.

    sandyforest1.jpg
    These two men are probably celebrating something because they are pouring an alcoholic beverage into a glass. That's just another part of the mystery. What's the occasion?

    On the left is Felix Forest, a man famous in the family for his height. He stood 6 feet 4 inches. He was much taller than the average man in the late 19th century. The soft stovepipe hat on his head must have really made him stand out in any crowd.

    Felix was born in Bonaventure, Quebec, but in the early 1880s, he immigrated to the United States. He moved around a lot. He married in Manchester, N.H., in 1892, spent time in Lewiston, Maine, and then lived in Fall River, Mass., before moving back to Bonaventure.

    While I'm adding up the clues and trying to find facts I'll share my favorite part of the picture—the dog at the base of the column. It appears to be a tin cut-out of a little dog. Finding that dog in another photo could identify the photographer and the location.
    sandyforest3.jpg
    The men meant for this photo to be funny, and the dog is just one more comical addition. It makes me laugh out loud.

    Next week, we'll focus on baby pictures. Diane Haddad, the Genealogy Insider blogger, had a baby last weekend, so I thought she'd enjoy a Photo Detective post of ancestral baby pictures. Email me yours to mtaylor@taylorandstrong.com.


    Tintypes | unusual clothing | unusual photos
    Monday, January 31, 2011 5:07:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [4]
    # Monday, August 09, 2010
    Favorite Photo Mysteries
    Posted by Maureen

    I’m taking a short vacation, so instead of a new column I’m taking a look back at some of my favorite mysteries.


    Back in January I published a photo of the Hobo 8, a group of young people (above) smiling for the camera. It’s a great photo that captures the fun they were having. The sign and the 80 after it remain a mystery. Any ideas?

     
    The problem of the Texas Twosome continues to be a challenge. I’ve taken these photos on the road with me and shown them in locales from coast to coast in the hopes of a new clue. I’ve outlined researchers’ ideas in a series of blog posts, linked below. Please let me know if you have any new thoughts on the matter. 

    Two Texas Mysteries
     
    Texas Mystery Puzzle—No News

    Texas Trouble: Readers Respond
     
    Texas Twosome Revisited 


    A fun picture of another group of friends was the image from Clues from Hats and Backgrounds. I love the fact that photos are in the background. Those images could help solve the identity of the people in the photo, if only they were clearer.

    men | photo backgrounds | unusual clothing | women
    Monday, August 09, 2010 2:33:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [5]
    # Monday, January 11, 2010
    Photo Identification in the News
    Posted by Maureen

    Readers of this column will be as fascinated as I was with these two articles on photo identification.

    In the January 2010 issue of Smithsonian Magazine is the story of an unidentified daguerreotype owned by Jack and Beverly Wilgus. In it a handsome young man stands facing the camera holding a long metal rod. One of his eyes is closed shut.  The collectors thought he held a harpoon until they posted their image on the social networking image site Flickr. It wasn't long before they heard from someone who said it wasn't a harpoon and was possibly Phineas Gage. Gage's life could have been featured on a reality TV trauma show.  In 1848, when 25, Gage's life changed. An accident on the job sent a 43 inch tamping iron through his skull. He lived to talk about it and was conscious when the doctor arrived on the scene. You can read about Gage's life and the story of this daguerreotype online.  In the photo he's holding the rod that's engraved as a souvenir of the event.

    Spring training is weeks away but for readers that are baseball fans, you'll get a jump start on the fun. A colleague sent me his 2004 issue of The Baseball Research Journal because it featured an article on identifying baseball images. I'm no sports fan, but I loved author George Michael's descriptions of how he sees the clues in photos of players sliding into base.  You can order copies of the Journal through the Society of American Baseball Research. 

    Both of these articles will end up in my files. 

    1840s photos | men | props in photos | unusual clothing
    Monday, January 11, 2010 3:41:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Tuesday, January 05, 2010
    Texas Twosome Revisited
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week's tease mentioned that I'd solved a persistent mystery. Ah ... I really thought I had the answer to the Texas mystery. Late last year I ran a three-installment story about these two men in their embroidered shirts. In the first piece, I showed you the pictures and mentioned some possible solutions. The following week I raised a couple of other issues. The third installment focused on readers' suggestions.

    092109img038 (3).jpg092109img041 (5).jpg

    A couple of weeks ago I was browsing through a book, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War by T. J. Stiles. One of the illustrations is a photo of the outlaw "Bloody Bill" Anderson, and he's wearing an embroidered guerrilla shirt from the Civil War. I immediately jumped up and thought, "Oh, gosh, that's it!" The two men in their shirts could be guerrillas fighting for the Confederacy.

    It seemed logical. The tintypes date from the Civil War, and Dr. Francis Montgomery was a Confederate officer for a short time before he was sent home ill with diabetes.

    But was this new theory true? I picked up the phone and called the Museum of the Confederacy. Curator Robert Hancock was able to explain a few things about embroidered guerrilla shirts. He'd never seen anything like these two shirts before and really doubted that these two were Confederate guerrillas. Oh, DRAT!

    He told me that guerrillas wore whatever they wanted to. Since they weren't sanctioned by the Confederacy, they weren't issued any uniforms. They worked outside the Confederate military establishment.

    While he wasn't familiar with these two shirts, he was able to tell me a fascinating fact: During the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s, some young men wore embroidered shirts. Hancock told me that this fashion statement was akin to the shirts of the 1960s. In the 19th century, young men rebelling against the white shirts and black frock coats their fathers wore would wear embellished shirts. There were even outlandish printed shirts in England. Some of these featured skulls and crossbones, snakes and other outrageous designs. I'd love to see one of these 19th-century shirts!

    There were other similar shirts to the one's worn here. Battle shirts for men and those worn by firemen could feature some designs. Hancock was quick to say that these two men are wearing very unusual floral pattern motifs that don't fit either category.

    The big problem with these shirts is that while the shirts and the pictures are identical in many ways, the embroidery is not. So who are these guys and why the shirts? Perhaps we'll never know.


    1860s photos | men | unusual clothing
    Tuesday, January 05, 2010 2:15:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]