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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Tuesday, September 04, 2012
The Story Behind Unknown Faces in Photos
Posted by Maureen

Last week, I featured Julie Magerka's genealogical photo mystery. As you know, I believe that every photo tells a story.  By piecing together the clues present in a photo—photographer's imprint, props, faces, clothing and photographic format—you can let that photo talk.  Even if you can't identify who's in an image, those basic elements may eventually lead to new discoveries.


Julie's photo encouraged her to investigate her Romanian roots. While the photo seems like a simple group portrait, the story represented in the image is anything but ordinary.


Julie's grandmother's name appeared on her son Rudolph's birth record as Julia Magierka. The record was marked that the baby was "illegitimate." Julie's Dad always used the spelling of Magerka for his surname, without the i in the surname used by his mother.

Julia Magierka met John Turansky/Turiansky supposedly when he was a prisoner of war during World War I, and she was a translator. The couple married and had a daughter. John immigrated to Canada first, then about a year later, Julia and Rudolph's half-sister, Anne, followed.

Rudolph didn't immigrate to Canada for another decade. Family story-tellers used to have a lot of theories about the fact that Jullia left him alone. Perhaps he lived with the family depicted in this photo.

Julie is hoping that further research will reveal the names of the other people in this people. All she knows at this point is that there is definitely more to this photo story. 

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor, all available in

  • 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 | Immigrant Photos | photo-research tips | Photos from abroad
    Tuesday, September 04, 2012 3:14:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    Tuesday, September 04, 2012 7:55:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    OMG! This is SO much fun to see. I've sent the link to my family and they're getting a charge out of seeing the story "in print" too, on such a well-known blog. It's funny; our Romanian family story is so "ordinary" that it comes as a real surprise to realize it has some interesting elements. But, unfortunately, those elements are well and truly buried (so far) in deepest, darkest eastern Europe. My greatest hope is that someone, somewhere, might recognize the picture and be able to help us identify the ancestors. Some of them may have gone to Vienna after WWI after their village in Romania was destroyed during fierce fighting. It's the mystery, the unknown, the challenge that keep me plodding away at it. Thanks Maureen.
    Julie Magerka
    Comments are closed.