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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Belieu Babies
Posted by Maureen

Within moments of posting last week's column on the pictures of Catherine Denison Belieu and her babies, I received an e-mail from Midge Frazel, Denison family historian. Turns out there's nothing simple about those Belieu kids. Did Catherine have 11, 12 or 13 children? It's still being debated.

I wrote that the family traveled to Oregon by boat, but another family historian commented that the family could have traveled overland. She's right, but this family took the water route. You can read Midge's note about how the family got to Oregon by clicking Comments below last week's piece. 

So which babies are depicted in these portraits? Catherine's clothing is a simple dress with a small collar accented by a pin. This helps date the picture to a short time frame, the mid-1860s to at least 1869. After 1869, women's collars changed. Of course there's no guarantee Catherine stopped wearing her older clothing into the early 1870s.

Catherine and her husband, John Asbury Belieu, had several children in the late 1860s and early 1870s.
  • Sarah Naomi Alice, born Dec. 4, 1864; died June 13, 1867.

  • Jesse Leander, born Oct. 11, 1866.

  • M. Elizabeth Evalin, born Feb. 3, 1869. This Eva is supposed to be Carole Hayden's great-grandmother, but some genealogists claim this child died in 1872.  There's a mistake in here somewhere.

  • James Asbury Elmer, born Jan. 2, 1871
It's likely the two babies in the photos are two of these children, but it's difficult to assign names. I think that at least one of them is Sarah, who died in 1867. It was a common practice to pose for a picture with a first child.

The two images show different children. I've come to that conclusion by comparing the shapes of their heads—they're slightly different. Both children wear dresses, but you can't jump to the conclusion they're girls. The mother could be reusing a garment from her first baby.

Regardless of who's who, these two images are treasures for the Denison/Belieu family. Now here's a challenge to other descendants. Do you own pictures of Catherine with her other children? Send them in and let's really try to settle the question of which baby is which.


1860s photos | children | women
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 2:09:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, April 07, 2008
Family Travels and Family Photos
Posted by Maureen

Every family has significant events documented in photographs. For immigrant families, that usually meant taking a group picture before a loved one left home. The immigrant also often sent pictures home to show he'd arrived in one piece and was happy.

In some families, photographs don't actually document the travels, they become the icon for the retelling of a family story. Carole Hayden owns two images of women with a baby. She found them in a box of newspaper clippings saved by her great-great-grandmother, Catherine Lavinia Denison (born in 1848). 

When Catherine was a mere 2 years old, her parents took her to Oregon. In those days, that meant boarding a ship and sailing around the tip of South America. Approximately 6,000 other people also made that trip. If you've got an ancestor who decided to settle in Oregon in 1850, you can check his or her name against this online list of pioneers. It's not comprehensive and the Denison family doesn't appear there, but you might get lucky.

Now Catherine's descendant wants to know the significance of these two tintype images. Do they show the same woman?

040708Belieu1.jpg     040708Belieu2.jpg    

Definitely! These images depict the same mother, but is the baby the same?  That depends how many children Catherine Denison had with her husband Asbury Belieu. They married in 1863, and judging from her clothing, these two pictures were taken in the year or two after their marriage. Family history research would provide information on when their children were born and the sex of the babies. The babies in both images appear to be female.

I need to do a little more research before I can answer the rest of Carole's questions. Back next week with more!

By the way, thank you to everyone who added comments about last week's column. You'll have to look at the column and the comments to see my response :)


1860s photos | cased images | children | women
Monday, April 07, 2008 11:22:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Internet Tag: Happy Baby Photo
Posted by Maureen

I love the blogosphere! 

This week the sharp-eyed Kathryn M. Doyle of the California Genealogical Society sent me a posting she spotted on the Genealogue blog about a baby photo. Chris (the Genealogue) threw out a comment that he'd love to see what I'd say about this smiling, barely dressed tyke.

The photo shows a toddler in a droopy diaper. I can't copy the photo here, but you can see the original posting on the Swapatorium: A Journey Through Junkland blog. It's an odd picture. The child's stocking are dark; and the diaper, light-colored. He's probably around 2 years old.

But it's not his lack of attire that grabs the viewer. This kid's an optimist. His diaper is falling down and he's got to be uncomfortable, but he's happy. It's great to see a 19th-century picture of someone with a full grin—doesn't happen very often.

The wicker chair and animal-fur rug date the picture to as early as the 1890s. Anyone want to help me out by researching the photographer, Bigelow of St. Joseph, Mo.? 

Why pose him just in a diaper?  There are two reasons: First, the mother is showing off her healthy kid. Second, believe it or not, it was the style in the late-19th century to pose in your undies. I've got one I'll share sometime, a middle-age woman in a chemise.

Send me pictures of your smiling ancestors and I'll post them in my new SmugMug album. It's fun to see what's in other people's photo collections. SmugMug's security settings let me watermark your images and prevent right-click copying.


1890s photos | children
Tuesday, April 01, 2008 9:10:09 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, March 24, 2008
Baby Photos
Posted by Maureen

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve decided to run another picture of a woman and baby—but this time only part of the woman appears in the picture.

I’ve taken to categorizing images like this as “hidden mothers.” There's no way to say for certain the arm extending into the carriage to brace this child belongs to its mother, but it’s either a cautious mother, a nursemaid or a photographer’s assistant. I vote for the mother.

Before I start dissecting this picture—do you have any images with partial women in them? I’d love to see them and feature them next week. Send them to me.

 

So who’s this darling tot? Gwen Prichard doesn’t know. A genealogical Good Samaritan gave her the album it was in after finding it in an antique trunk in California. Several of the people are identified members of the Godfrey and Locke families who, according to the photographer’s imprint, posed for pictures in Jonesburg, Mo. 

The woman who purchased the trunk wanted family members to have the photo album so she contacted Jonesburg Historical Society who in turn suggested she write to Gwen. It’s one of those odd serendipitous genealogical connections.

Gwen thinks the album belonged to Olive Cornelia (Locke) Smith (born in 1861) based on the identified images. Now she’s trying to figure out who else is represented. This is one of the mystery pictures. There are four photos on a page—this baby, an older child, a man and a woman. They may be the baby’s parents, but before jumping to conclusions let’s date this picture.

  •  While the baby picture doesn’t have a photographer’s imprint the other three were taken in Moberly, Missouri.
  • The light green card stock of this small (4” x 2 ½”) photo was typical in the mid to late 1870s.
  • The toddler wears a white dress with colored sash and a necklace. This child’s attire is also typical for the early to mid-1870s.

These last two details date the picture, but it’s the baby carriage that draws our attention. The first carriage that could be pushed was invented in 1848. Before this, baby carriages were drawn by ponies and other small animals. Newer carriages, like this one, enabled mothers, nursemaids and nannies to stroll with their children. This fringed model looks similar to the horse-drawn surrey carriages used by families in the 1870s. The top would protect the child from the sun. Babies faced front to be admired by passersby.

This particular carriage is well padded with an animal fur lining and a checkerboard knitted blanket. A scalloped edged embroidered cloth decorates the inside. The woman has her hand underneath this cloth supporting the baby allowing us to see the beautiful stitching. You can see other examples of early carriages on the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

While this is a picture puzzle, the date brings Gwen one step closer to figuring out who it might be. This baby (probably a girl because her thin hair in parted in the middle) was born in the mid-1870s.

Anyone interested in helping me narrow the time frame? Check patent records to see if you can match up the design of this carriage. I’ll give you a hint: The leading baby carriage designer in this time frame was Adolph Meinecke. Don't forget you can respond in the Comments field below.


1870s photos | children
Monday, March 24, 2008 3:04:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Polaroid Preservation
Posted by Diane

Two weeks ago I wrote about how Polaroid stopped manufacturing film. In the Comments section to that article, Nancy Owen asked, "Over the years, I've taken a lot of Polaroid pictures. Many of them are not holding up. The edges of the paper on the back are coming unglued. What can I do to preserve my photographs?"

Ahh, Nancy, Polaroid pictures are a bit troublesome. If you've taken these instant pictures and haven't looked at them in a while, it's time to take a peek. These images have a tendency to fade, crack and become unglued. 

The best solution is to scan them, then fix the damage using photo editing software.

Several people wrote to me privately saying how much they liked using their Polaroid cameras. According to an article in Sunday's Boston Globe, Fuji still makes instant film. You can see a selection of their products on the Fuji Web site. And yes, it works in Polaroid cameras!


photo news | preserving photos
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 3:44:53 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 10, 2008
Multi-generational Portraits
Posted by Maureen

There's something special about seeing a grandmother and grandchild posed together in a photograph. This little tyke is the spitting image of her grandma.

031008.jpg

Emma Dempster-Greenbaum owns this picture. It's labeled "Grandmother & Sarah Ann."  The photographer was J.C. Cone and Sons of Farmington.

Emma dated this photo based on family information. At 11 months old, Sarah Ann Jackson immigrated to the United States with her parents in November, 1886.

The clothing details support this time frame. Sarah wears a typical baby dress while her grandmother's conservative pleated skirt and fitted bodice are from the 1880s. Her dress lacks the bustle typically worn by younger women. Her eye-catching hat accessorizes her outfit—it's tied with a wide ribbon at the chin, and the high crown features what looks like leaves and small berries. She holds a handkerchief, ready for a drooling baby.

The photographer also fits the time frame. Emma researched J.C. Cone and found he lived in Farmington, Ill. I double-checked and found Joseph C. Cone in both the 1900 census for Farmington and in a biographical encylopedia, Portrait Biographical Album of Fulton County, Illinois (1890).

There's a bit of bragging in his business name. Cone was 58 in 1900, and his son, 27. When he printed the photographic card bearing this photo, his son was still a teenager just learning his father's business.

It's the grandmother's presence that confuses the picture evidence. While Emma found an immigration record for Sarah Ann and her parents, she's unable to verify that grandmother Catherine Dempster came with them. Catherine was the baby's only living grandmother in the 1880s.

Emma wonders if this picture is a copy of one taken in England. That's possible, but it's also likely his is an original.

So, how old is Sarah Ann in this picture? She's still a baby, based on her short hair and long dress. The length of the dress indicates she's not walking yet—otherwise, the dress would be shorter to accomodate her steps. Since most children's first steps occurring around a year to 15 months of age, Sarah Ann is probably less than a year old here.

Unfortunately, this data doesn't help determine whether the photo was taken in Illinois shortly after arrival, or in England before she left.

I'll be back next week with a follow-up.


1880s photos | children | photographers imprints | women
Monday, March 10, 2008 9:56:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Polaroid News
Posted by Maureen

Another photographic giant is shutting down production on one of its products. In mid-February, Polaroid announced that after this year, it will no longer manufacture film for its cameras. You can listen to the National Public Radio interview live on the web.

Edwin H. Land established the company back in 1937. It offered photographers instant gratification: Take a picture, wait a few minutes and you could see your picture. Now digital has replaced the days of watching the print develop in front of your eyes. Follow the ups and downs of this trend-setting company on Wikipedia.

I guess my husband and I will retire all our Polaroid cameras. My first one was called the "Swinger" because it had a strap to hang from your wrist. It was a lot of fun to use.

Got a question about your Polaroid pictures, submit them to me at mtaylor@taylorandstrong.com or ask them in the comment field below.


photo news
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 3:52:24 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, February 25, 2008
Italian Military Picture Part 2
Posted by Maureen

Two weeks ago, I promised a second installment of the blog on the Italian soldier photo. Thank you for commenting on the first column. While I puzzled over the v. Fabio Massimo.83, two of you reminded me that v. stands for via, Italian for the road on which the photographer had his studio.

I'm amazed at the additional material in that postcard and where it led me this week. Gosh! Let's continue reading the evidence.

  • Next to SPQR is an image. Taking a chance, I researched Roman tourist sites. Turns out that columned structure is a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy.  It wasn't inaugurated until 1911, providing another beginning date for this picture.
  • Above the monument is a plume with an interwined EV, which represents the king—either Vittorio Emanuele II or his grandson Vittorio Emanuele III.
  • At the top of the card are portraits of Vittorio Emanuele III (1869-1947) and his wife, Elena (1873-1953), Princess Petrovich of Montenegro. He becamse king July 29, 1900, following the assassination of his father, Umberto. He reigned until he abdicated May 9, 1946. Next to the portraits is the flag of his House of Savoy—red with a white cross.
  • A quick search for secoli fedele made me shout, "I got it!" The phrase "Nei Secoli Fedele" means "always faithful." That phrase on the photo mat identifies the man pictured as a member of the Carabinieri. These men policed both military and civil matters. Follow the link to read more about them and see another picture. 
Remember the owner of the picture, Justin Piccirillo, thought this man was his relative, Costabile Piccirillo ( 1891-1974). This could be him. Judging by the other clues in the image this picture dates to about 1911, when he'd be 20.

Case solved!

PS: I asked a military specialist to take a look at the uniform. I'll report back soon on what he had to say.


1910s photos | men | Military photos | Photos from abroad
Monday, February 25, 2008 10:58:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, February 15, 2008
Fun and Simple Photo Editing
Posted by Maureen

I'm a fan of a relatively new website called Picnik.com. It may make you forget expensive photo editing programs even exist. Here's what to love.
  • It's online, Web-based software. All you do is access your pictures on your computer or use the ones you've uploaded to sites such as Flickr.com, Facebook.com, photobucket.com and webshots.com, and those in your Picasa Web albums. Pick a picture to edit and get started

  • It's free. There's a $24.99 upgrade for additional features, but most of the regular editing tools are free. If you want more fonts or creative tools, I recommend signing up for the full version.

  • Picnik's tools work with Macs, Windows and Linux operating systems.

  • It's fun. I played with a couple of pictures to see what could be done. I added shapes, captions and used the editing tools to improve the look of an old photo.

  • This Web-based program has a lot of power. You can sharpen blurry pictures, straighten crooked ones, correct redeye, fix exposure settings and a lot more. You can even resize pictures and select a format for saving (JPG, PNG, TIF, etc.).

  • Finally, once you're done, you can share the images by e-mailing them to family and friends or posting them to a list of Web sites, such as Flickr.
You've got to try this to believe it. While it won't replace the sophisticated programs like Adobe Photoshop, it goes a long way to do more than the basics.

I'd like you to sound off about your favorite photo editing program. For years I used Microsoft's Digital Image Pro, but now that's been discontinued. What do you use to "fix" your pictures? Click Comments and let me know.

Next week I'll be back with more information on our Italian soldier.


preserving photos | Web sites
Friday, February 15, 2008 4:00:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Overseas Military Uniforms
Posted by Maureen

Justin Piccirilli is an extremely patient genealogist. He first contacted me back in 2005 about these images, which he thinks depict his great uncle Costabile Piccirillo in a military uniform.

This is part one of a two-part photo identification problem that covers both military history and foreign family photos.

As you probably know from reading past columns, deciphering clues in a military image is a challenge. There were no standard uniforms in the 19th and early 20th century.

This gorgeous portrait shows a young man in a dress uniform. I know it’s a dress uniform because of the white gloves and shiny epaulets at the shoulders. Each metal piece of his uniform is freshly polished for this important portrait.

This full-body picture shows this man at attention with some simple props—a vase of flowers and a doily on a table.

 

Here, just the man’s head is visible in a picture postcard, framed with illustrated symbols of his native land. The photographer hand-colored the plume red and blue. The photo format gives a beginning time frame for the postcard—photo postcards first became available in 1900.


It’s an interesting card. Each symbol is there for a reason. Here’s part one of the breakdown:
  • Underneath the oval portrait are the letters SPQR, which stand for the Latin motto of Rome, Senātus Populusque Rōmānus ("The Senate and the People of  Rome").
  • Beneath the motto, the words Ricordo di Roma translate to  “Souvenir of Rome.” You also can see the sons of Rome, Romulus and Remus, nursing from their wolf mother.
  •  At the bottom is the photographer’s name, G. Tibaldi, with the words fotografia artistica. Under his name is V. Fabio Massimo.83. I think the 83 refers to 1883, perhaps the year he opened his studio, but I’m not familiar with this term. Anyone seen this before?

  •  Along the bottom edge are the words fotografo dei RR.CC and Vietata la Riproduzione. The latter is essentially a copyright statement.

  • Four vignettes around the oval depict famous Roman battles and scenes. 
This identification is a work in progress. I’ll fill you in on more details next time.

men | Military photos | Photos from abroad
Tuesday, February 12, 2008 6:55:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]