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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, August 02, 2010
Your Mourning Pictures
Posted by Maureen

Two weeks ago I wrote about mourning traditions and clothing and asked for e pictures of women wearing mourning clothes. This week, I'm featuring the two I received as well as one from my work collection of images.

davison headstone2 (3).jpg

Toni Mann sent in this very interesting photo.  It's a 20th century snapshot. It blurs when I enlarge it, but I think the women in the far background are wearing clothing from the early 1900s. The woman to the left of the headstone wears late 1890s mourning clothes. Perhaps her husband is buried there. Toni thinks it was taken in the Chicago area. Anyone recognize the headstone? 

edit1907 Hulse family reunion Greenville TX (2).jpg

Charman Davis emailed this photo of the Hulse Family August 1907 reunion. The woman on the left lost her husband the previous month.  Everyone wears light-colored summer clothes except for the widow.

funeraledit.jpg

I bought this photo several years ago. It dates from the late 1890s and depicts a woman in mourning standing by a burial. It's a new grave, based on the fresh flowers piled on it. It's intriguing that a widow would hire a photographer to take her picture in this setting.

You'll find advice for creating, sharing and saving your family's photographs in the Family Photo Essentials CD, from the editors of Family Tree Magazine and Memory Makers magazine.


1890s photos | 1930s photos | mourning photos
Monday, August 02, 2010 4:25:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, July 26, 2010
Prize Catch
Posted by Maureen

No doubt about it, I've looked at a lot of family photos. Every so often there's an image that not only depicts an ancestor, but also documents a bit of local history. Take this photo, for instance:

Otis Shepardson family  cougar edit.jpg

Pamela Fisher sent me this photo owned by her cousin Lorrie Glover. The women thinks the man on the right (with the dog) is their great-grandfather Otis Shepardson.

  Otis Shepardson family  cougargrandfather.jpg

Not everyone in the family agrees.  Shepardson was born in 1880 in Home Valley (Cowlitz County), Wash. 

This picture is mounted to a gray piece of card stock. It can be difficult to date a group photo where no one is wearing very fashionable clothes. Men's clothing is particularly challenging because the fashion changes are subtle. The style of men's hats suggests that it was taken circa 1900.  If that's true then it could be Otis.

There is one woman in the picture. She wears a frontier-style bonnet that protects her face from the sun. Perhaps one of the boys is her son. 

Otis Shepardson family  cougar bonnet.jpg

Also in the photo is a man in the background who looks like he just stepped off his horse. He wears a cowboy hat and a kerchief around his neck.

Otis Shepardson family  cougarman.jpg

This photo just begs the viewer to fill in the details and answer these questions.
  • Who shot the mountain lion?
  • Why are the men gathered around? (It could be the day the lion was placed there.)
I think I know why a taxidermied mountain lion is on display in the town. It's quite possible that this animal threatened the town. Once it was shot, the town mounted it on tree stump (notice the wooden post to keep its head up). Whoever shot it must have been the town hero.

My husband's ancestral hometown of Peru, Vt., once had a bear on display in the town center. I have photographic proof in an early 20th century postcard.

Peru2.jpg

You'll find help identifying the mystery photos in your family albums in Maureen A. Taylor's book Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs.


1900-1910 photos | group photos | unusual photos
Monday, July 26, 2010 6:37:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, July 19, 2010
Mourning Clothes
Posted by Maureen

Ten years ago, I analyzed a photo sent to me from a woman in New Zealand. In the New Zealand Mystery, I discussed the family information, but also described her clothing and how it indicated she was in mourning.
 Goldsmith.jpg

Queen Victoria set the standard for both wedding attire and for mourning. After the death of Prince Albert in 1861, she wore black mourning clothes for the rest of her life. In the Victorian era, men would wear a black armband when someone died, but women wore full black crape (the 19th century spelling for crepe) dresses for a year and a day. Then they wore just crape-trimmed black dresses for another 21 months. (Tortora and Eubank, Survey of Historic Costume, 348). 

But what if your family didn't have the resources of the woman depicted above?  A wardrobe of mourning clothes probably wasn't economically feasible. Instead, clothes could be rented or borrowed for the funeral. According to the 1877 article by Henry R Hatherly, "Mourning Clothes as a Source of Infection" (Sanitary Record: A Journal of Public Health, Google Books), less-fortunate folks were spreading disease by wearing clothing worn by others—in particular, skin and parasitic diseases.

Not just Queen Victoria's subjects followed mourning customs. This week I looked at a tintype from Dresden. The dark clothing and the large hat with long, heavy fabric at the back suggests this 1880s woman is in mourning. The style of the hat is a bit unusual. I think the browband helps keep the hat on her head.

ThomasCollins.jpg

If you have any 19th-century photos of family wearing crape, I'd love to see them. You can e-mail them to me.

Need help researching, preserving and displaying your family photos? Visit ShopFamilyTree.com for how-to books and CDs.


1850s photos | 1880s photos | mourning photos | unusual photos | women
Monday, July 19, 2010 3:47:35 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 12, 2010
Follow-up to Stitching Together An Identification
Posted by Maureen

Two weeks ago in Stitching Together An Identification,  I wrote about Candace Fountoulakis and her search to identify the women in two photos. At the time she thought they were related.

Soon after I posted the column she wrote to update me on her search. Now she doesn't think there is a connection. Her research didn't turn up a link.

She knows the single woman is "Aunt Mary Jane Hill," but now thinks that the couple could be either from the Newburn or the Mathews family.

Candace hopes that either the other researcher working on the family history will discover a new clue or that her mother holds the key in her box of old photos.

She's done all the right things—compared pictures, researched the photographic evidence, consulted family and delved into family history. My fingers are crossed that all her efforts result in another identified picture!

Of course, there is another possibility—they aren't relatives at all. <smile>
Family collections are often a collection of family and friends. 

You'll find guidance for identifying the mystery photos in your family albums in Maureen A. Taylor's book Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs.


women
Monday, July 12, 2010 5:10:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 05, 2010
Uncovering Your Revolutionary War Ancestor
Posted by Diane

bakeman.jpg

This carte de visite of Daniel Frederick Bakeman commemorates his status as the last living Revolutionary War soldier in 1868. Bakeman died the following year. This image was widely available in the 19th century and Bakeman is generally accepted as the last living Revolutionary War soldier, but there is one problem: Other lesser-known men outlived him and were photographed. One such man was John Kitts of Baltimore, who died in September 1870.

Photographs of other members of the Revolutionary War generation exist in public, private and family collections. While I've collected 70 images of men, women and children who lived during the war, I know that additional images are still undiscovered. I'm hoping that by studying your family photograph collections that you'll find images that meet the following criteria: 
  • Men who lived during the war and who were alive after 1839 when photography was introduced in the United States would be at least 80 years of age. These individuals could be patriots, soldiers, loyalists or non-participants in the war.
  • Women may be wives or widows. Locating pictures of these women means looking at pictures taken anywhere from the advent of photography to the early 1900s. The last Revolutionary War widow died in 1906, according to this New York Times article.
Please contact me if you think you've located a picture of a Revolutionary War ancestor.

If you're interested in seeing my first collection of images, they appear in my new book, The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation (Kent State University Press, $45)

Taylor cover (2).jpg

Revolutionary War research resources from Family Tree Magazine and ShopFamilyTree.com:


1840s photos | 1850s photos | 1860s photos | cased images | men
Monday, July 05, 2010 8:46:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 28, 2010
Stitching Together an Identification
Posted by Maureen

Last June, I wrote about a photo owned by Candace Fountoulakis that was surrounded by a cross-stitch pattern. At the time I published the photo, Candace thought the couple was from either her Watts or Boohler side of the family, but now she's not sure. This photo changed her mind:
 
MaryJaneHill edit.jpg

This photo was in her mother's collection and is captioned: "Aunt Mary Jane Hill." The young woman wears a beautiful dress with dark trim on the bodice. Her small waist is highlighted by a belt. She leans on a chair for support. This pose and the dress style were common in the 1866-1868 period. The line line border was also common on card photographs in the late 1860s.

Now Candace thinks this woman is the sister of the woman in the first image:

 

The image above was also taken in the 1860s, making it possible for the two women to be of the same generation.

Candace knows a lot about the Hill family. They were a pioneer family in Gallia County, Ohio, and intermarried with the Watts family.

Additional research needs to be done before confirming that these two women are sisters, including:
  • If this is Mary Jane's sister, it's important to verify the birth date and parentage of this woman. 

  • Who's the man in the photo? 

  • Are there any other pictures of him in the family?
Since both images were in Candace's family, it's clear that there is some connection to her.  All that's left is to put the pieces together.

Need help researching, preserving and displaying your family photos? Visit ShopFamilyTree.com for how-to books and CDs.


1860s photos | women
Monday, June 28, 2010 5:45:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 21, 2010
Spotting a Wedding Photo
Posted by Maureen

Irene Powell sent me this lovely wedding photo of her great-grandfather Joseph Kapler and his wife, Theresa. They were married in December, 1888.

Their clothing is perfect for the late 1880s. Theresa's dress features a fitted bodice and her sleeves have vertical puffs at the shoulder seam. Her skirt has knife pleats at the side. Joseph wears a fitted 1880s jacket, a shirt with an upturned collar, vest and tie. He has short hair and a trimmed mustache.

This photo is a perfect example of how a bride would often wear a very nice dress, rather than the Victorian ideal of a white ensemble. In this case, Theresa has accessorized her attire with wedding white in the bow at her neckline and a tiny headpiece. She doesn't carry a bouquet, but Joseph wears a large corsage pinned to his jacket. These tiny clues identify this as a wedding photo, even though neither one wears a wedding ring.

kapler  sonnkalb old 019.jpg

You might have wedding images in your collection and not recognize them. Watch for accessories that suggest a wedding—headpieces, corsages, flowers, bows and even sashes. Match up the family history information with a date for a photo, and you might be surprised that you have a wedding image or two. Getting married was a significant family milestone, and one that couples often commemorated with photos.  

I've never seen the item that stands between them. It appears to be a small table, but it has unusual filigree legs and a support under the drum. Can anyone identify it?

Need help researching, preserving and displaying your family photos? Visit ShopFamilyTree.com for how-to books and CDs.


1880s photos | wedding | women
Monday, June 21, 2010 4:48:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Jamboree Mystery Photo
Posted by Maureen

I'm back from the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. Over 1,700 folks attended the three-day event. I met many readers of this column. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello! 

As usual, I held individual photo consultations. This is one of my favorite part of going to conferences because I get to look at photos and chat face-to-face with their owners. I hear a lot of interesting family stories and see some amazing photos. This week, I'm sharing one of them with you:

Young Bob (2).jpg
Kris Robinson and her sister visited me at Jamboree to try to answer a question. They know the man in the middle of this picture is their father, Robert Robinson (born in 1917), but they wonder if one of the women could be his mother, whom the Robinson ladies never knew. This casual snapshot of three smiling people has a bit of a dark side.

Lola Cloos Robinson was born in 1894 in Illinois. Her father abandoned the family when she was young. By 16, she was on her own working as a domestic in Unity, Ill. Kris isn't sure how her grandparents met, but they appear with their two boys in the 1920 Mason City, Iowa, census. One died at 4 years of age. In 1927, the family moved to California; they lived in Los Angeles and Huntington Park from 1928 to 1932, when they disappear from the city directories. 

Robert Robinson never discussed his family history or mentioned any other relatives. He had an unhappy childhood. However, Kris' mother told her that her father Robert had come home from school one day to find his mother gone. Lola had been institutionalized at a local hospital for unknown reasons. Kris is trying to gain access to those records.

Kris and her sister have spent a lot of time discovering the details of this woman's life. Just recently, they learned that Lola had two aunts and two cousins living in Los Angeles in 1931 and that those individuals had children.

Could one of the women that linked arms with Robert be his mother? The clothing styles reflect the styles of the early 1930s especially the sailor collared shirt worn by the woman on the left; the women's calf length skirts; Robert's suit with the bold tie; and the sweater worn by the woman on the left. You can find similar outfits in Sears Catalogs of the period. This dates the photo to the early 1930s, when Robert was in his mid-teens.

This photo raises so many questions.
  • It's an amateur snapshot, probably part of a series of images. Who's the photographer?
  •  Where's the rest of the roll and who owns it?

  •  If Robert's mother was institutionalized when he was young, when was she released? This information would help determine if onf of the women in the picture could be her.
Young Bob edit(2).jpg
  • If one of the women is her, I vote for this woman. She's older than the teen on Robert's other arm. She's also wearing lipstick, which young teens in the period generally didn't wear.  
I hope Kris and her sister can solve the information riddle surrounding this woman's life. Perhaps someone will see this column and recognize Robert and the women in the photo. Anyone have the rest of the roll?

Go to ShopFamilyTree.com for the how-to books and CDs you need to research, preserve and display your family photos.


1930s photos | men | women
Tuesday, June 15, 2010 8:33:28 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Photo Detective—Online and On the Road
Posted by Maureen

I hope to see you this month in Boston; Burbank, Calif.; or Wellington, Kan. I'm always looking for photos to feature in this space and in the Photo Detective column of Family Tree Magazine, so I hope you'll stop by and say hello (and bring a mystery photo if you have one)!

June 9th  New England Historic Genealogical Society, 6 pm
This is the official kick-off for my new book, The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation (Kent State University Press). I've spent at least eight years gathering images and vignettes of veterans, their wives and some significant children who lived during the American Revolution and  lived into the age of photography.

June 11-13th  Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree
I'll be there in the Family Tree Magazine booth in the exhibit hall as well as giving two lectures—Hairsteria: Hair in Family Photos and Identifying and Dating Family Photographs.  I can't wait for Saturday's  live podcast hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine's podcast. Lisa invited me to talk about The Last Muster project.  

June 18th  Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies Conference
At this all day seminar I'll be covering identifying nineteenth and twentieth family photographs in two talks: Identifying and Dating Family Photographs and Kodak Moments and Technicolor Dreams. The rest of the day I'll be focusing on telling the family story and modern genealogical research techniques.

NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are" has made genealogy and family photos a popular topic outside of family history world. The website Glo.com called to chat about trends in the field. I got a chance to talk about a few of my favorite things, including safely displaying family photographs and those lovely pages on Footnote. You'll find more on my conversation with Glo.com in their article and online slideshow, It's a Family Affair.

I'll be back next week with a report from Jamboree! 

Visit ShopFamilyTree.com for books and CDs that'll help you research, preserve and display your family photos.


Photo fun | photo news
Tuesday, June 08, 2010 5:42:16 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, June 01, 2010
A Memorial Day Salute and a Web Reunion
Posted by Maureen

About a year ago I started creating short videos of photo cases I've worked on and began posting them on Vimeo.com. Last week I featured a photo from Valerie Moran. It's a lovely summer scene and the flags in it provided a valuable clue. Hope you enjoy it! A New York production company created the 3-D effect. 

After years of writing about other folks online reunions, I now have one to brag about concerning one of my husband's relatives: A Facebook friend, Meryn Cadell, sent me an e-mail last week. I've included the links in this quote.

"I was just browsing the website of the ACE hotel in New York, and came across a lovely postcard, sent from the Hotel Breslin in 1908 to a little boy in Newton, Mass. named Gilbert McNamara. I wondered who he might be, and did a little searching, coming across your lovely story about the table that belonged to your husband's grandmother as well as a Gilbert McNamara, quite likely the same one, as the year and location seem appropriate."

When I saw this email and the postcard, I couldn't believe it!  I immediately picked up the phone and called my mother-in-law. She confirmed that the Gilbert in the postcard was indeed the right person.  Now it's a family history mystery in three parts:
  • How did the postcard end up on the web?
  • What was Mother McNamara doing in New York in December 1909?
  • Who was watching Gil? 
Ah..the power of the web to connect folks and information.  Wow!  Thank you Meryn.


photo postcards
Tuesday, June 01, 2010 6:01:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [3]