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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, April 16, 2012
Sorting Out Children's Clothing
Posted by Maureen

It's been awhile since I've put out a call for photos from your collections. If you have a photo of a child wearing interesting clothing, please send it to me. I'd love to run a series on what kinds of clothing children wore, and when.

This week's photo came from Loretta Gillespie. She asks, "With men's clothing being more difficult to date and [this girl's] clothing being a little unconventional, how do I narrow down the time frame?" Great question.

Studying clothing clues is all about the details—collars, cuffs, sleeves, trim and accessories.  

pierce2.jpg

In this case, the clothing suggests that this tintype was taken in the mid-to-late 1880s. 

piercecloseup2.jpg

The horizontal bands with prominent buttons combined with horizontal contrasting fabric was a key feature of girl's clothing during the mid-1880s. Her dress was likely made at home. It's a printed cotton fabric.

The high collar with the slight ruffle and the cuffs also help date the photo.

Joan Severa's Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion (Kent State University Press, 1995) is wonderful resource for clothing styles.

I'll be back next week with another installment of this photo mystery. 


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

  • 1880s photos | children | men
    Monday, April 16, 2012 1:27:20 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
    # Monday, April 09, 2012
    A Double Mystery: Twins in the Family
    Posted by Maureen

    cookedit.jpg

    This cute-as-a-button toddler duo is a big family history problem for Laura Cook. Who are they?

    The cabinet card was once owned by her paternal grandmother—a trail of ownership that at least eliminates her mother's family from consideration.

    Laura asked her father if he could remember any twins in his family, and he didn't. However, in his confirmation Bible appeared a mention to his cousins Catherine and Dorothy Scheuerman.

    Laura asked me, "Could this photograph depict the Scheuerman girls, born in 1918?" Here's how the evidence stacks up.

    Dark-colored cabinet card mats—brown and green—were usually common in the 1880s, not in the early 20th century. In the circa-1920 period, photographs usually appear in an enclosure. 

    Props can also help date an image. In this case, the grass on the floor and the faux wall that the children are posed with could be from the 1880s as well.

    The style of the interlocking initials of this photographer's imprint also suggests a time frame. The presence of gold stamped letters on an image can place the picture in the late 1880s to early 1890s.

    cookedi2t.jpg

    Laura can use city directories and census records to research the business dates for the photographer, who according to this imprint, was based in Baltimore, Md. She also can type the name of the photographer and the city into Google to see if any hits pop up. An alternative would be to see if the Baltimore Public Library has a directory of photographers.

    The identically dressed pair are likely twins, but sometimes cousins would dress their similarly aged children alike and pose them for a picture. 

    There is a lot more research to be done. I'd start with the photographer's work dates and then focus on children born in the family at the time, likely during the 1880s. 
     


    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

  • 1880s photos | children
    Monday, April 09, 2012 7:02:06 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [3]
    # Monday, April 02, 2012
    Census Taking in Pictures
    Posted by Maureen

    My fingers are itching to start searching through the 1940 census. I've read that the National Archives website crashed due to the number of folks online doing the same thing.  I'll wait a bit and try again. 

    In the meantime, take a peek at some census-related images.

    censusposter.jpg

    This image from the Library of Congress is a poster advertising that it was a patriotic duty to provide information for the census.

    census2.jpg

    In another photo from the Library of Congress, two women operate a new census machine.  The "unit tabulator" on the left is being operated by Ann Oliver. On the right is Virginia Balinger, Assistant Supervisor of the Inquiry section. (Love those shoes!)

    According to the caption, in 1870 it took seven years to compile statistics from the census, but this machine invented by Herman Hollerith fed census cards at the rate of 400 per minute. This machine was going to compile those stats in 2-1/2 years.  Each written bit of information was translated into codes that were punched on cards then fed into this machine.

    Enjoy your searching!


    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

  • 1880s photos | 1940s photos | occupational | props in photos
    Monday, April 02, 2012 7:16:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Wednesday, March 28, 2012
    Graduation Caps
    Posted by Diane

    It's the last week for hats. It's also your last chance this month to save 10% on Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900. Use HAT10 as the coupon code when ordering from ShopFamilyTree.com

    I've blogged about a lady in a fancy hat, a young man in a felt hat and two men wearing work hats. You're probably wondering what's next.

    A graduation cap!

    graduation caps.jpg

    This image, from the collection of the Library of Congress, is from about 1860. I love the young man's blue bow tie and red tassel. He's smiling for the camera with a toothy grin. That's something you don't usually see in a 19th century picture.

    Notice the stripe down his pant's leg? He wears military style trousers. It's possible he's a cadet.

    ehow credits the contemporary mortarboard to 15th-century France and Italy. The term "mortarboard" comes from its shape—it looks like a piece of equipment that a bricklayer uses for mortar. Today's graduates wear tassels that reflect their school colors. Some students personalize their caps, too.

    I hope you've enjoyed this month's worth of hats. I'll be back with other caps, hats and bonnets this year.


    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

  • 1850s photos | 1860s photos | hats | men | unusual clothing
    Wednesday, March 28, 2012 12:59:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 19, 2012
    Hats Off to the Men
    Posted by Maureen

    First it was work hats, then fancy hats for ladies, but what about everyday hats for men?

    hat18702.jpg

    Go ahead. Take a guess: When do you think this young man posed for this image? 

    My mother has an expression, "what's old is new." It's all about how fashion repeats itself. This little tintype is a perfect example.

    Go into any hat shop and you'll find hats for men that resemble this soft felt one with the wide ribbon band. He's a young man wearing a jaunty everyday hat.

    hats1870s.jpg
    This image is likely from the late 1870s. There were all sorts of hats for men in the 1860s and 70s, but the paper mat for this tintype helps date the image.

    Don't forget the promotion for Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900 is only good through the end of March.  Enter HAT10 as a coupon code to receive 10% off that title.

    The book is part of another deal, too: Spend $30 on these products and receive a free book download of the Family Tree Problem Solver.

    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

  • 1870s photos | hats | men
    Monday, March 19, 2012 2:23:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 12, 2012
    Hats and Hair
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week the focus was work hats for men. This week it's all about the ladies.

    When I go photo shopping, I love to find more than one image of the same person.  I have two images of this woman—one in a hat and one without her hat and jacket.  They show the relationship between hairstyles and hat trends.  The shape and style of women's hats were influenced by the current hair and vice versa.


    woman in hat.jpg
    There is something intriguing about hats from the 1880s.  They can feature high crowns, small brims and lots of trim.  In this case it's a plush fabric decorated with feathers and botanical elements.  It's not unusual to see stuffed birds on them as well. Women raised these birds at home to sell them to the hat industry for stuffing.

    In the second image, the same woman has taken off her hat and sits for the photographer without her jacket as well.
    woman no hat.jpg

    She wears the same drop earrings and ruffled collar so it's likely she posed for both on the same day.  Her frizzy bangs stuck out from under her front brimmed hat.

    Both images were taken by Alman, a photographer with studios in New York and Newport. The affluent families of New York City built mansions in the city by the sea, in Rhode Island so it makes business sense for Alman to maintain his customers in both locations.

    If you want to learn more about hats or hairstyles from different periods check out my Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats, 1840-1900 or Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles, 1840-1900.  There is a special offer this month in ShopFamilyTree.com.  Enter HAT10 as a coupon code for 10 percent off the Bonnets and Hats title.

    It's also part of the ShopFamilyTree.com deal of the month: Spend $30 on these select products and receive a free Family Tree Problem Solver book download!


    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

  • 1880s photos | hats | unusual clothing | women
    Monday, March 12, 2012 2:02:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, March 05, 2012
    A Month's Worth of Hats
    Posted by Maureen

    It's almost spring! So let's celebrate with a look at different styles of hats.  Last fall, I finished my book Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats, 1840-1900 and it's available in the ShopFamilyTree.com store with 10% off this month if you use the coupon code HAT10 when you check out.

    Plus, it's part of the deal of the month: Spend more than $30 on these products and receive a free Family Tree Problem Solver book download.

    So let's kick off the month with some very interesting men's work hats from the Library of Congress:

    fw1.jpg

    This photo, dating from the late 1840s to early 1850s, is a daguerreotype, a shiny reflective image on a silver plate.

    These men posed in their work clothes—plain shirts, work pants and, of course, their hats. Can a hat reflects a man's personality?  I think so. One man wears his at a rakish angle.

    The tools in their hands are floor rammers and foundry tools, used for packing sand against molds.

    In the 19th century, there were a wide variety of hats, including those that reflected your political leanings. In the coming weeks I'll show you some dress hats for both men and women.


    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

  • 1840s photos | hats
    Monday, March 05, 2012 1:44:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Wednesday, February 29, 2012
    British vs. American: Readers Weigh In
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I posted two photos. One was an American and the other a British one.  

    meninhat2.jpg
    Photo 1


    maninhat.jpg
    Photo 2

    I asked all of you to vote on which one was which. There is no stumping this audience. The majority voted for photo 1 being the American man and photo 2 being the English gent. You're right!

    I looked at hundreds of photos in London last week. All this picture analysis confirmed by belief that while women's clothing in America vs. Britain are very similar, the same is not necessarily true for men's clothing.  In England you're more likely to see men wearing specific work clothes. 

    In photo 2, several folks mentioned the walking stick (also adapted by upper-class Americans), the cut of his pants and the fabric of his suit.  Looks like a tweed to me too. The background is also key. You're unlikely to see a backdrop like this in an American photo.

    The American in photo 1 wears untidy clothes, stands on an oilcloth floor covering and stands in front of a plain wall, with drapery and a post. Notice the wooden photo prop at his feet. This would be clasped around him to hold the man still.

    Great job!! Thank you for adding your comments. March is all about hats. See you next week.


    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

  • 1870s photos | hats | men | photo backgrounds | props in photos
    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1:34:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]
    # Monday, February 20, 2012
    Foreign vs. American Fashion
    Posted by Maureen

    My mind is focused on packing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London.  I'll be at this dynamic trade show for three days and I'll be presenting two lectures—one about online picture research and the other on writing your family memoir.  Can't wait!!

    While I'm in London looking at pictures I thought it would be a good time for a quiz. I've been to WDYTYA three years in a row looking at pictures.   It's been a learning experience.  The number one question folks ask me when I'm there is "what's the difference between American and English fashion?" 

    No, not all Americans dressed in Western style hats. 

    Photographic methods vary just a bit. Daguerreotypes weren't as common in England as America, but early paper photographs were available from 1839 on. The American invention, the tintype, also wasn't as popular in England. 

    Clothing is a little more difficult. The differences can be subtle or dramatic.  Everyday dress is about the same, but occupational dress has several distinctions.

    So...here are two pictures.  Vote in the comment section below and tell me which is a British man and which is American.  I'll weigh in when I return. 

    Photo one
    meninhat2.jpg

    Photo two

    maninhat.jpg

    (If you like these hats you should see the ones in my new Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900. It's available in the ShopFamilyTree store. Click the link below.)

    If you happen to be in London, stop by the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! photo gallery and say hello.

    Thank you for participating in my Silly Old Photo contest on my website. It's not too late to vote.  I've extended the deadline until the day I return.


    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

  • Immigrant Photos | men | unusual clothing
    Monday, February 20, 2012 2:03:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [32]
    # 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]