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<November 2014>

by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, August 04, 2013
Foreign Photos in the Family Album
Posted by Maureen

This week I'm at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Conference. It's a huge event with folks attending from all over the globe. I love the international atmosphere and especially like looking at photographs taken around the world.

Photos taken in foreign lands can be particularly challenging. Instead of showing you this week's photo immediately, I'm first going to break it down into clues. The image is one I purchase for my personal photo collection.


The style of this woman's hair and the square-necked bodice and the fit of the dress identify a time frame of the early 20th century. Women who followed the current Parisian fashions and who lived in urban areas generally adopted western style dress. Even fashion-conscious women in rural areas might follow trends while others adopted the local cultural dress.


Her hat rests on a chair. This additional detail narrows the time frame. Hats about 1910 featured wide brims and tall crowns with lots of trim.


Men didn't always wear western dress. The style of this man's coat and even his mustache suggest a photo taken abroad (or one showing an immigrant in the United States). The insignia on his lapels are military.


I could use a little help with the imprint. The photographer's information on a photo usually includes a name and address. Is there anyone who can read the Cyrillic on this image? 


Here's the whole photo. The couple to the right are very fashionable folks for the second decade of the 20th century. The man on the far left and the young man in front draw attention because of their different clothing.  Photo studio props and backdrops vary around the world, but they usually include some basic similarities: a chair, something on the floor (in this case it's hay) and a painted backdrop.


At their feet are the hats worn by members of this party. Two straw hats with wide bands and one military cap. That likely belongs to the man on the far left (see enlargement above). 

Photos taken in foreign lands need careful study of every detail. You'll find more help in my book Family Photo Detective.

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 | hats | Military photos | women | World War I
    Sunday, August 04, 2013 7:07:06 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
    Monday, August 05, 2013 10:42:49 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    At left is the place name, "Brest-Litovsk," situated in what is now Belarus, but very close to the Polish border. To the right, the top word is "Photographer," and I think his name, below that, is something like, "Zablude."
    Monday, August 05, 2013 8:29:51 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    The writing looks like a fancy/script version of Greek. Literally, the top right would read "Photographs". The remaining words are too ornate for me to decipher.
    Interesting photo, though. The woman looks so much like Rosie O'Donnell!
    Christine M.
    Monday, August 05, 2013 8:59:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    It has occurred to me how similar, phonetically, "Zablude" is to "Zapruder," that other notorious photographer.
    Friday, August 09, 2013 12:23:33 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    Agree with first comment, Brest-Litovsk now is named Brest, it is situated near the border between Belorus and Poland, in the beginning of 20th century both were parts of Russian Empire.
    To the right the top word is "Photographer", his family name below is "Zablud". The last letter in all these words (looking like "Ъ" ) has not been used in Russian language since 1918. Is pronounced like [E] when it is in the middle of the word, and is not pronounced at the end of the word.
    As I found out the first letter of the photographer's given name is "M" ( so he is M. Zablud).

    The man to the right is very fashionable, I have photo of my relative from Odessa (now Ukraine) taken in 1912 looking like this. At that time there was a lot of well-educated people in Russian Empire who travelled and could also study in universities abroad (mostly in Europe), so the man's suit is not very unusual.
    The guy to the left seems to wear military coat, though I can't see the lapels clearly. I think he could be a student of some military college, because of his age. But we should also consider the fact that the uniform of university students looked pretty much the same. The boy sitting on the floor looks like student of gymnasia ( middle and high school). School students wore clothes like this. The second dark cap on the floor can be his.

    Alla Kubatskaya
    Comments are closed.