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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, 19 February 2017
3 Clues to Identify the Ancestors in Old Wedding Photos
Posted by Maureen




Dr. William Davis dated this photo in his collection to sometime between 1860 and 1890.  It once hung in his parents' house, but he can't remember which side of the family it represents. 
 
The photo documents the wedding of one of Dr. Davis' ancestors, but which one? 

If you find yourself wondering the same thing about an old wedding photograph, keep reading. Pictures that depict a bride and groom often contain specific clues to help you figure out more about the image and the individuals.

Wedding photos also can hold the key to missing family information including where the wedding took place, the couple's religion, and their ethnicity. I have several questions about this image.

Study the clothing
Two young women in my family are currently planning weddings.  One stated she'd like to wear her mother's gown. The other one said the same thing, but in her case, her mother's gown also was worn by two earlier generations of women, beginning in 1890. Each bride updated the look of the dress, but kept the original bodice. 

This is a cautionary tale: Not all brides wore a brand-new dress and veil.  Dresses could be re-made and veils were often inherited.

Study all the clothing worn in the picture to make sure that all the facts add up. By the time Dr. Davis wrote to me, he'd already determined that this picture could have been taken in the 1880s. He's right. 

The dress with its center pleats in the skirt, the fitted bodice and the bustle all suggest the 1880s.  The man's close-fitting jacket with narrow collar are from the same period.

I love the bride's mantilla-style veil and the pearls around her ruff collared neck and her wrist. Lovely!  Look closely, you can see her simple shoes.

Their matching white gloves suggest that this was a formal wedding.

Notice that the veil is white, but the dress is a different color.  It could be dark ivory, or one of the popular colors in the 1880s—a rust tone or a reddish shade. Many different colors were worn for weddings in that decade. Sometimes newspaper announcements for weddings of prominent community members mentioned details of the bride's gown. 

Look at your family tree
Davis thinks this photo could be William Issac Carrigan and Sarah Ann Hutton, who married Sept. 4, 1884, in Carrollton, Greene County, Ill. He could be right. It all depends on who else in the family married in the early 1880s.

According to the census, Carrigan and Hutton both were born in Illinois.

They posed in an elaborate studio, one with real furniture and a gorgeous painted backdrop. This couple's attire suggests they have some means. Does this fit what Davis knows about Carrigan and Hutton?

I'm hoping Davis has other wedding suspects on his short list of people married in the 1880s.  While it's possible this picture shows William and Sarah, I'd like to know more about their families' status in society before saying yes. 



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

  • Save
    1880s photos | wedding
    Sunday, 19 February 2017 20:50:58 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [10]
    Friday, 24 February 2017 02:09:32 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Maureen, I love all of your comments about your methods for determining when pictures were taken. In many of these old wedding photos, the same for my family, the woman was standing and the man was sitting. Do you know why they posed that way?
    Shirley Crampton
    Monday, 06 March 2017 09:26:29 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Interesting guide. Unfortunately, my family hasn't saved any old wedding photos (or they do not exist at all). I heard that some term paper writing services help to track old family trees.
    Michael
    Wednesday, 29 March 2017 09:13:34 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    For the family history specialist, couple of things are as valuable as an old family photograph Expert assignment writers these photographs can fill in as a substantial connection to the past.
    Aaron William
    Wednesday, 29 March 2017 11:04:55 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
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    jackson kevin
    Tuesday, 04 April 2017 06:48:28 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
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    Eliza Molly
    Friday, 07 April 2017 07:35:53 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    For the family history pro, couple of things are as significant. My paper writer .As an old family photo these photos can fill in as a considerable association with the past.
    Angela
    Saturday, 08 April 2017 08:38:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    An explanation? Simple. It was someone's wedding photo and you threw it out. Wedding photos have been part of weddings since the Civil War when cameras first became popular. Need Assignment Help Sorry it creeped you out, but there's nothing sinister going on there.
    Walter Scott
    Tuesday, 11 April 2017 10:42:08 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    Wedding photographs additionally can hold the way to missing family data including where the wedding occurred, the couple's faith, Assignment Writing Help and their background. I have a few inquiries concerning this picture.
    John Martin
    Wednesday, 19 April 2017 07:56:13 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    Dr William Davis was a great cardiologist of his time, Student has learned many great things about his research and nowadays students get help from Professional Essay Writers to write for researchers of his time.
    Friday, 21 April 2017 05:58:24 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    Dr William Davis was a great cardiologist of his time, Student has learned many great things about his research and nowadays students get help from academic coursework help to write for researchers of his time.
    Alvina Ria
    Comments are closed.