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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, June 16, 2008
Sisters or Mother and Daughter?
Posted by Maureen

A reader named Judy sent me a picture mystery that's a lot like choosing the answer to a multiple choice question—a, b or c. This makes my brain and eyes hurt. Here goes:

061608.jpg
  • On the back is written Great Grandma Frances Huffman.  Huffman was born in 1838.
  • In a different handwriting on the back someone wrote, Nira. There were two Niras in the family: Frances Huffman's mother, born about 1817, and a sister, born in 1859.
  • Frances Huffman had a daughter in 1856.
In case you're confused, both Huffman and her mother were giving birth to children in the 1850s. Huffman was 18 when her own daughter was born; her mother was 42 when she had Nira.

So who's in this picture? That's the quandry. The wide lace collar and beads suggest it was taken in the mid-to-late 1850s. The caption on the back suggests the woman is Huffman, but if it's really her and her about-2-year-old daughter, then it's an odd picture. 

In 1858, cased images such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and even tintypes were available, but paper prints weren't common. Note the gray cardboard used as backing and the circular shape to the portrait—I think this is a copy of an earlier image. The blurring of the portrait suggests the photographer shot the copy through the glass covering the original picture.

What about the additional caption mentioning Nira? Unless this is a picture of Huffman with her much younger sibling, that's probably a misidentification.

I'm not sure all the pieces of this puzzle are in place yet. I don't think the mother in this picture looks like she's in her 40s, but genetics and illness are just two factors affecting the aging process. Another picture of either Huffman or her mother wouldhelp  confirm the woman's identification.


1850s photos | children | women
Monday, June 16, 2008 10:33:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
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