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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Summertime Farewell
Posted by Maureen

I don't know about you, but I'm having a difficult time saying good-bye to summer. This weekend I took a short field trip to historic Concord, Mass., and ended up in an antique shop. I couldn't resist the piles of unidentified photos. Picked up some of fantastic hairstyles and hats, but also these two beach scenes:

beachRugen.jpg
In case you guessed...this wasn't taken in the United States. According to the postcard publishing information on the back, it was taken in Rugen, Germany. This lovely multi-generational family went to the beach. I love the beach hut that shades the two older women and the little girl. Mom and Dad sat in the sand. Can you imagine dressing for the beach in a full suit and dress shoes? The image was taken by A. Haase, circa 1910. Haase may have traveled up and down the beach taking pictures of folks on vacation.

If you want to learn more about this seaside resort, there is a website, but it's in German.

The other image I bought is a snapshot. It's clear from the woman's pose and expression that she is having a good time at the shore. I have no idea where it was taken.

Beach002.jpg
It's a great shot of a young woman in a late 1920s bathing costume. She's the epitome of the late 20s, from the wrap on her head to her glasses and the belted waist.  The 1920s saw the evolution of women's swimsuits from blousy, long skirted suits to form-fitting tanks.

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.


1910s photos | 1920s photos | women
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 4:21:38 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, August 30, 2010
Hand-Me-Down Family
Posted by Maureen

Years ago, Truli Powell's mother received a box of photos from one of her husband's cousins. Now Truli is trying to date and identify the images. She's hoping that the cousin only gave them images from their specific line.

Powell Unknown 1 (2).JPG

In this "like mother, like daughter" tintype, the mother and the woman in the back (I'm assuming grandmother) wear nearly identical dress designs and hats. This 1890s scene depicts three generations on an outing. I love the park bench as a prop.

Powell Unknown 2.JPG

In the second tintype Truli sent, a young man in a suit and coat poses with a painted backdrop that features a house and a wall. The "rock" in the foreground is supposed to create the illusion that he's actually standing outdoors. Since backdrops usually reflect the area where someone lived, I wonder where this was taken.

Truli wants to know if this could be her great-great-grandfather Peter Floyd Powell (1832-1922). Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to the case. This photo depicts a young man probably in his early 20s. From the neatly greased hair to the polished shoes, this is a young man who's dressed very nicely for the late 1880s.

She sent another picture and I have to include it. Last week I focused on backdrops.
Powell Unknown 8 (2).jpg
Here, two young girls posed behind a backdrop with cutouts for their heads. Their hats and the car date the picture to the early 1910s.  One of the girls would be the right age to be the young girl on the bench in the first photo.

It's too bad that Truli's father's cousin didn't label the photos in some way, but hopefully the information in this column will help her put names with the faces.

Need help with your own mystery photos? Look for Maureen A. Taylor's book Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs.


1890s photos | 1910s photos | photo backgrounds | Tintypes | Vehicles in photos
Monday, August 30, 2010 4:07:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, August 23, 2010
Studio Backdrops
Posted by Maureen

At last weekend's FGS conference in Knoxville, I did a little shopping. Picked up a couple of interesting books and this lovely trio of photos. I just love the backdrops. This photographer spared no expense.

While in the 19th century most backdrops looked like the outdoors or living rooms, in the 20th century the backdrop often sets the scene into a historical context. 

In December 1903, the Wright Brothers lifted off the ground in the first flight. Mass transit by airplane was decades away, but that didn't keep folks from simulating flight. Here, a group of friends are posing in a painted backdrop that looks like an early aircraft, with the skyline at their feet.  Their clothing and the design of the airplane dates from circa 1912.  You can view early airplanes on the web at Early Historic Aircraft.
FGS001.jpg

In the next postcard, the same woman seated at top right in the first photo takes another picture in the same studio. This time, you can see the airplane set to her left while she sits on a fake racehorse. She wears the same suit and hat so it's possible it was taken on the same day.

FGS002.jpg

In the same batch of photos I found another image of her standing near a painted wall with "Pennsylvania Pullman" on it. George Pullman manufactured train cars, trolley buses and streetcars. You can read more about him on Wikipedia. I think this is a train car, but I'm still trying to find a reference to the words on the side.
FGS003.jpg

I may not know the name of this woman, but it appears that in the early early 1910s she liked to frequent photo studios with creative backdrops.

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.


1910s photos | photo backgrounds | props in photos | unusual photos | Vehicles in photos | women
Monday, August 23, 2010 5:17:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, August 16, 2010
It's Time for FGS!
Posted by Maureen

Oh boy...it's time for another national genealogy conference. This time it's sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  I can't wait!

This year I've partnered with Family Search to provide free photo consultations in the exhibit hall. I'm really looking forward to meeting all the folks (and seeing their photos) that signed up for a slot. Unfortunately, all the spaces are now filled on the Event Brite site.  My fingers are crossed that I'll be able to do this again.

If you're at the conference, wave and say hi.  I'll be in the Family Search booth space.

Back next week, with a photo mystery!


Genealogy events
Monday, August 16, 2010 6:47:04 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, August 09, 2010
Favorite Photo Mysteries
Posted by Maureen

I’m taking a short vacation, so instead of a new column I’m taking a look back at some of my favorite mysteries.


Back in January I published a photo of the Hobo 8, a group of young people (above) smiling for the camera. It’s a great photo that captures the fun they were having. The sign and the 80 after it remain a mystery. Any ideas?

 
The problem of the Texas Twosome continues to be a challenge. I’ve taken these photos on the road with me and shown them in locales from coast to coast in the hopes of a new clue. I’ve outlined researchers’ ideas in a series of blog posts, linked below. Please let me know if you have any new thoughts on the matter. 

Two Texas Mysteries
 
Texas Mystery Puzzle—No News

Texas Trouble: Readers Respond
 
Texas Twosome Revisited 


A fun picture of another group of friends was the image from Clues from Hats and Backgrounds. I love the fact that photos are in the background. Those images could help solve the identity of the people in the photo, if only they were clearer.

men | photo backgrounds | unusual clothing | women
Monday, August 09, 2010 2:33:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [5]
# 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]