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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, February 13, 2012
Photographs on Who Do You Think You Are?
Posted by Maureen

Every so often, the cameras for Who Do You Think You Are pan across a family photo. Last week, there were two images of Marisa Tomei's ancestors. Instead of being in a family album, they were on a tombstone in Italy.  

How unusual was the practice of putting photographs on tombstones?

Not very. In fact, the first US patent for including photographs on headstones dates from March 11, 1851. It was issued to Solon Jenkins, Jr. of West Cambridge, Mass., for "Securing Daguerreotypes on Monumental Stones" (U.S. Patent No. 7,974). You can view the whole patent file on Google through the Patent database.

If your ancestral headstone once had a daguerreotype it's likely no longer there. Unfortunately, most were pried out of the stones. 

Jay Ruby's book Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America (MIT Press, 1995) includes a chapter on memorial photography as it pertains to pictures on gravestones.

If anyone knows of a photographic headstone shown on Findagrave.com, please post the link in the comments below. I'd love to see it.

You can watch the entire Tomei episode online to catch another glimpse of the 20th century photographic headstones. I just wish the series would linger on the pictures for more than a few seconds. As a reader of this column, you know that a picture can contain a lot of family history information!

Next week, I leave for London for the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! event. If you're going to be there, stop by the photo gallery on the second floor and say hi. This will be my fourth year there. I'll report on any interesting photo items upon my return. Cheerio!


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • unusual photos | unusual surfaces | Videos
    Monday, February 13, 2012 6:24:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [11]
    # Monday, February 06, 2012
    Digital Photo Preservation Pointers
    Posted by Maureen

    I hope that everyone had fun exploring the sites I mentioned last week!  These sites are a way to share photos and stories, but are not a way to preserve your family photos.  

    If you want to preserve your photos try these tips.
    • Scan at 600 dpi as color images. I prefer the TIF format because it's uncompressed. Don't forget to scan the back, if there is information there such as a caption or photographer's name and address. Scan at 100 percent scale at a minimum.

    • I don't like to use the digital auto-correct feature on my scanner.  I prefer to "fix" any photo issues with a photo editing program. One of my favorites is Picnik.com. It's similar than Photoshop and free.  Unfortunately, you  can't upload TIF files, only JPGs, so you'll have to create a jpeg copy of your scanned image.

    • Back up your digital files on a portable hard drive and/or print significant photos.

    • Preserve your family stories by recording them or writing them down.

    Thank you to Sally Jacobs, the Practical Archivist for pointing out this survey on what online sites do with your digital files.

    I had a great time in Washington, D.C. and found several additional images for my Last Muster project.  The highlight of the trip was visiting the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. I was the only researcher in the department and boy did I take advantage of that to ask questions <smile>. You can view the majority of the collection online


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • preserving photos
    Monday, February 06, 2012 1:37:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [3]
    # Monday, January 30, 2012
    Posting Photos Online
    Posted by Maureen

    This week genealogists from all over are gathering in Salt Lake City to talk technology at RootsTech. Unfortunately, I won't be there this year, although I might check out some of the virtual offerings.

    I'm trying to finish research on a second volume of my Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation.

    There are a lot of great websites out there that enable folks to share pictures and stories. Before I list them, here are some basic tips before you post your pictures in the global world of the web.

    • Don't upload images larger than 72 dpi. That resolution is perfect for the web, but anyone trying to copy your image won't end up with a very good print.

    • Make sure you own the photo (or have written permission to post). I wouldn't want my cousins posting family photographs online that I own and you probably wouldn't your cousins to do so either.

    • Don't post images of living people. Genealogists generally recommend not posting information on living individuals and that rule applies to photos as well.  

    Now let's get to the fun part. Websites!  I have my personal favorites. Oh— did I mention that most of these sites are FREE?

    • History Pin.  Take a tour of the world or your neighborhood in the photos on this site.  There are "sets" of images that focus on themes.  This website just won an award for the best mobile app. Try it and see.

    • 1000Memories.  Need an online place to share your photos, stories and family videos, then check out this site.  I was stunned to see the possibilities. 

    • Dear Photograph. This is a really cool idea. Take a photograph of a place today then upload it and a historical photo of the same place. The juxtaposition of the two images is a lot of fun.

    • Ancient Faces and Dead Fred.  These two reunion websites can help you reconnect with "missing" family photographs.

    Let's not forget that you can upload images to genealogical sites such as Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com.

    I'm trying to beat the winter blahs and maybe you are, too. On my personal website, I'm having a Silly Old Snapshot Contest.  Upload an image, get folks to vote on it and you might end up winning a prize package. The contest ends on February 25. 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Photo fun | photo news | unusual photos | Web sites
    Monday, January 30, 2012 2:46:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]
    # Monday, January 23, 2012
    Which Mother is It?
    Posted by Maureen

    Susannah_Wideman.jpg

    This lovely image depicts either someone's mother or stepmother. The question is, which one? It's a north-of-the-border mystery.

    Chris Rye inherited this photo from his grandfather, who in turn inherited it from his mother. The back of this tintype reads "Enos Mother." Enos Storm is Rye's great-great-great grandfather. 

    Enos' mother was Susannah (born in 1836), who died in childbirth in 1866 when Enos was born. The family lived in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.

    Susannah also had three daughters, born in 1859, 1861 and 1862. This woman is posed with a toddler on her lap. Notice the size of the toddler, as compared to the mother's diminutive size. She has large hands but a tiny body in contrast to her very hearty child.

    Enos' father remarried a woman named Mary (born about 1847) and she had a daughter in 1879.

    The clothing clues in this picture point to the 1860s.  The mother wears an everyday dress with cap sleeves and a small collar, and wears her hair pulled back. In the late 1870s, women's clothing featured more trim than this, and even everyday dresses had fitted bodices.

    The little girl's dress also dates from the 1860s. 

    This is an entrancing portrait. Susannah looks directly into the camera with a slight smile on her face, while her child sits still for the image. It's a family history treasure!

    This is one of the three daughters, but which one? She could be any one of them depending on a specific year.  The toddler is likely around 3 years of age, meaning the photo was taken in approximately, 1862, 1864 or 1865.  Any photos of the girls taken later on would be useful for comparison.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1860s photos | children | Tintypes | women
    Monday, January 23, 2012 4:30:55 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]
    # Monday, January 16, 2012
    Scottish Photographers
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week, I discussed Winston Cochrane's family photo taken in Dumfries, Scotland.



    Late in the week he emailed me to say he had new information.

    The image of Mary Jane Rae was taken at a photo studio in the Jubilee Buildings at the Queen's Photo Co. According to Richard Torrance's Scottish Studio Photographers to 1914 (Scottish Record Societies, 2011), Thomas A. Moryson operated the Queen's Photo Co. in the Jubilee Buildings from 1893 to 1900.  The building opened in 1887. 

    Now Winston thinks the photo was taken to commemorate an engagement. Mary married on Aug. 7, 1894.

    The clothing clues are the epitome of the late 1880s. Clothing from the early 1890s usually features fuller upper sleeves, so I have questions regarding this image being taken in the early 1890s.

    Not everyone kept up with the current fashion. When I look in my own closet, I see clothing I wore several seasons ago. Perhaps Mary didn't have the means to buy a new dress or this one was her favorite.

    I'm not sure of the source used to establish the work dates for Thomas Moryson. He bought his photo business from a James Rae, who might be a relative of Mary Jane's. It's possible that Rae also called his business the Queen's Photo Co. and that Moryson bought the name and the equipment.

    This photo remains a little bit of a mystery.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | 1890s photos | women
    Monday, January 16, 2012 4:36:09 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, January 09, 2012
    Mother or Daughter?
    Posted by Maureen

    cochraneAssumed Mother of Rae James Gedit (2).jpg

    Winston Cochrane sent in this lovely portrait of a young woman. Her hairstyle and dress date from the mid to late 1880s. He wanted to know if the item on the studio prop to our left is a hat. It is! It's a tiny topper that would rest on the top of her head. I love that's covered with spring flowers.
     
     cochrane hat.jpg

    On her left wrist is a ribbon bracelet.

    cochrane bracelet.jpg

    His big question was about her identity  Could this be Elizabeth (Gourlay) Rae (1840-1921) or her daughter Mary Jane (Rae) Bell (1869-1934)? The woman depicted here is probably only in her 20s, so it's likely the daughter. Mary Jane's brother James immigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1886. 

    It's the back of the image that made me think about who and where.

    CochraneBack of Photo edit (2).jpg

    This imprint reinforces my belief that being quick to judge can lead to mistakes. When I first glanced at it, the "N.B." stood out. Could it stand for New Brunswick? Many immigrants to the United States first stopped in Canada, but Dumfries, New Brunswick is a rural community even today and it's not near the coast. So what does the N.B. represent?

    I called Fred Farrell, the photo archivist at the New Brunswick Provincial Archives for a little clarification. He confirmed that it was unlikely taken in Dumfries, New Brunswick. Turns out that Scotland was often referred to as North Britain even into the 20th century.

    This photo was definitely taken in Scotland. 


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1880s photos | Immigrant Photos | women
    Monday, January 09, 2012 4:36:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [3]
    # Monday, January 02, 2012
    Photo Clean-up: 5 Easy Steps
    Posted by Maureen

    If you find yourself surrounded by boxes of family photos, then check out my article "Address Your Mess" in the February 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine. There are five easy steps to help you organize those shoeboxes.

    A few months ago, Family Tree Magazine ran a contest to find the most creative call for organizational help.  Congratulations to Judy Walck. She won $250 worth of archival photo storage and preservation supplies from Hollinger Metal Edge.

    Here's her photo and the poem that accompanied it.

    walck.JPG

    I have photos galore and more.
    Please help. Oh, please.
    they hang on every wall you see.
    What a quandary.
    Where to store the countless more
    in boxes and bags all over my floor?
    Yes, I need help and need it majorly.
    I've photos old and photos new.
    More come each day.
    Some aren't labelled who is who
    A pen I need.
    An eat-in kitchen is really great
    'cause my dining room table no longer seats eight.
    An heirloom Bible could use a box
    not of plastic.
    what to keep and what to cull
    I'm in archival hell.
    Eight generation to orderize.
    It's not Restasis bring tears to my eyes.
    Can you help me, please?
    I'm beggin on my knees.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • preserving photos
    Monday, January 02, 2012 5:22:16 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 26, 2011
    Resolutions for the New Year
    Posted by Maureen

    I've spent the last six months cleaning out every closet, file drawer and cabinet in my house.  After 17 years in the same house, there was a lot of stuff.  It feels good to start the new year with a fresh outlook.

    If you feel the need to take charge of the clutter in your house, start with your photo collection. Here are some things to consider when dealing with all that photo build-up.

    • Start small.  Don't take out all the boxes at once, try one shoebox at a time. 
    • You don't have to keep everything. It's o.k. to throw out images that don't include individuals.  This is also true for digital images. My husband is very organized.  Every time he uploads digital images he immediately starts deleting those less than perfect shots. 
    • Back up those digital files. It's a new year so start a new habit. Regularly back-up all your digital files. I use an online service so that I don't forget to do it.
    • Identify a photo at a time.  Pick an unlabelled photo and start working on the clues.  You'll find lots of tips in archives of this blog.  You can search by topic by using the search box at the end of the left hand column.  

    Use the comment section of this space to tell me about your photo-related resolutions.  I'd love to hear them.

    Happy New Year!


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • preserving photos
    Monday, December 26, 2011 9:42:22 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 19, 2011
    Holiday Photos from Your Family Albums
    Posted by Maureen

    Thank you to Kim Dawson, Carol Norwood and Fran Jensen for sending in holiday photos from their family albums. 

    dawson2.jpg

    Kim Dawson sent me this lovely photo of a family with their Christmas tree.  The child is Elsie Marion Quakenbush (born 1908). She's posed with her mother Ella Baird Quakenbush and her father, Alfred Garfield Quakenbush.  On the back it says "To Grandma with love from us all don't fail to see Elsie's baby doll it looks just like a baby."  I enlarged the picture to look at the doll.
    dawson3.jpg

    It is pretty life-like.  It looks like Elsie also received a book "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and a tea set.  Her parent's are proudly posed with a new Victrola so perhaps that was their Christmas present.  Elsie looks about  6 or 7.

    Kim thinks that Alfred's brother George Willis Quackenbush took the photo. He was a photographer in Oxford, New York.

    norwood2.jpg
    Carol Norwood submitted an image of her parent's Bill and Cita Jacobs. They are sitting under the tree at Cita's parents home in Hartford, Connecticut. The Jacobs were still newlyweds.  They were married three months prior to Christmas.

    Jensen.jpg

    Fran Jensen emailed me this charming studio shot of four children.  Her grandfather, John Roy Tolve Johansen is on the right. His sister Alma sits next to him. She's hugging a china faced doll. The other boy and girl are the Bough's who were the photographer's children. It was taken in Ringsted, Iowa.

    Here's one more picture.  This is one from my non-family collection.
    babies008.jpg
    I don't know the identify of these two boys, but on the back it says "Christmas 1898."  Don't you just love their modified Little Lord Fauntleroy suits.

    Happy Holidays!  If you want to see more Christmas trees, I have a short video on my Vimeo channel.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | candid photos | children | holiday | men | women
    Monday, December 19, 2011 2:32:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 12, 2011
    Painted Woods Update
    Posted by Maureen

    PaintedWoods2.jpg

    Richard Levine has taken on this mystery photo, which he originally thought was taken in Painted Woods, ND.  We've emailed back and forth about his progress and I thought it was time to update all of you about what he's been up to. This is the photo featured in two of the November columns of this blog; check out Part 2.

    After this installment appeared online, Richard wrote to say that he now thought the photo was a wedding. He thinks that it could be his grandmother Rose Confeld (b. 1885) and her husband Samuel Levine (b.1883). They were married Aug. 15, 1905, at Kistler's Hall in Minneapolis, Minn. The hall appears in city directories and in newspapers.  His next step was to try to locate a photo of it from the Minnesota Historical Society.

    He's also compiled a list of second and third cousins to mail them a letter and a copy of this picture. He's determined to figure out the significance of this photo!

    I suggested trying to find a Sanborn Insurance atlas of the area around Kistler's. These maps have construction details which would verify that the building was wood and also tell you something about the neighborhood.  This photo appears to have been taken in a rural area. 

    Richard found a picture of Kistler's from 1914.  It shows how rural the area was. He also located a hand-drawn map from the 1920s that identifies a four-story Kistler building on the same street as the Kistler's Hall. The hall is no longer at the junction of 6th Avenue N. and Lyndale Ave.; the area now has a freeway intersection.

    He retraced his steps and went back to his family history. Now he's investigating land his great-grandfather Joseph Confeld owned in Anoka County, Minn. 

    I'll be back with the next update. Every week Richard gets closer to solving this mystery.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | Jewish
    Monday, December 12, 2011 3:05:49 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]