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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, June 03, 2012
Westward Bound! Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree
Posted by Maureen

This week I'm off to the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree and a meeting of the California Genealogical Society. I hope to see you there! Please stop by my booth at the Jamboree to say hello.

All this California travel makes me think about western American style clothing worn in family photos—in particular Stetson hats, jeans and frontier bonnets. Do you have a photo of someone dressed for the West?  I'd love to see it. You can email me.

I love the story of the Stetson hat. It's an example of American ingenuity. John B. Stetson, son of a Philadelphia hat manufacturer, took a trip West to recover from consumption. He showed his companions how to make felted fabric and created a hat from that material.

In 1865, Stetson founded his hat company. He called his hat the "Boss of the Plains." It wasn't a new design: Similar style hats were worn by Army units, and wide-brimmed hats were also popular on plantations because they offered shade.

It was Stetson's marketing efforts that made his hat a success. He wore his hat everywhere and each hat bore a gold leaf Stetson on the inside to mark it as authentic.

stetson.jpg

Wearers could use them to retrieve water for washing or drinking, earning them the nickname, "10 gallon hat."

You'll find more information on Stetsons and other types of western hats in my book Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900.


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 | men | unusual clothing
    Sunday, June 03, 2012 5:39:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 28, 2012
    Call for Photos! Maureen's New Book
    Posted by Maureen

    I'm working on an updated and revised version of Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs. To reflect all the new content, it has a new name, The Family Photo Detective:

    When I was at the NGS Conference in Cincinnati, Genealogy Insider Diane Haddad, Managing Editor Allison Dolan and I sat down to brainstorm ideas for the new book. We thought it would be exciting to include photographs from readers of this space.

    So...do you have a mystery photo you'd always wanted to know more about? You can email it to us or post it to the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page. There are more details on the Genealogy Insider.

    I'm looking for a photo to feature in my Photo Detective column for Family Tree Magazine, and maybe in the book. I'll select one photo to win a copy of the book (due out in 2013).

    Can't wait to see what you've got in those family boxes of photos or tucked away in photo albums!

    Please send in your submissions by June 4th.



    Monday, May 28, 2012 10:19:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 21, 2012
    NGS Photo Spotlight
    Posted by Maureen

    The owner of last week's photo, Larae Schraeder, sent me some additional information on her family. I love the connection between family history and photography! That's no surprise to all the readers of this space.

    Jeffersedit.jpg

    Last week, I showed details giving evidence that this picture was taken by an itinerant photographer. One correction to that post. The photo was found in Schraeder's great-grandparents' collection of images. It depicts Caleb and Eliza C. (Jeffers) Coon/Kuhn.  

    If you're wondering about the alternate spelling of the Coon/Kuhn name, Caleb's Civil War pension file contains information on his formal name change.

    What's the most unusual detail you've found in a Civil War pension file?  Add it to the Comments section below. I discovered that my great-grandfather had red hair. No one in the family since has had red hair.

    JeffersKuhn.jpg

    Caleb was born in Washington County, Ohio, in 1846. He died in 1927 in Vernon, Mo. His wife, Eliza, was born in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1847, and she died in Vernon in 1929.  

    Caleb's family moved to Gallia County and their farm adjoined Eliza's family farm. Caleb didn't farm; he worked in coal mining.


    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

  • 1890s photos | Civil War | group photos
    Monday, May 21, 2012 1:52:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, May 14, 2012
    What I Saw at the National Genealogical Society Conference
    Posted by Maureen

    Thank you to everyone who stopped by my booth at the National Genealogical Society Conference last week! I looked at a lot of photos and many people promised to send in submissions for this column.

    Larae Schraeder showed me two photos. Here's one of them (I'm still working on the other):

    Jeffersedit.jpg

    It's a portrait of the Jeffers Family of Missouri. There is so much to like about this picture.

    It was taken circa 1890, based on the women's peaked shoulder seams.

    Jefferssleeves.jpg

    This was the style for a few years from 1889 to 1892.

    The whole family dressed up for this group portrait, likely taken by an itinerant photographer. Look closely at these two details:
     
    • You can see the temporary wall set up and the edge of the backdrop.
    Jeffersbackdrop.jpg
    • In the second closeup, you can see that the backdrop stands on legs and the grass beneath the family's feet.

      Jeffersgrass.jpg
    The family took their excursion to the photographer very seriously by dressing up for the portrait and posing with solemn expressions.

    This photo from the Ralph M. and Nettie Finley Jeffers collection is a family history treasure.


    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

  • 1890s photos | group photos | hairstyles | unusual photos
    Monday, May 14, 2012 3:45:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 07, 2012
    More Family Photos of Ancestral Children
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I showcased your photos of ancestral children and this week it's a second installment.

    Jerome.jpg

    This little guy is Sandra Jerome's grandfather, Ralph Frederick Jerome. He was born September 7, 1894 in Jordan, Scott County, Minnesota.   He's wearing attire approximate for boys less than 5--a skirt.  It's paired with a short jacket and a wide collared shirt. A cute hat sits on his head.  He doesn't seem old enough to be able to ride the photographer's tricycle prop.  It was likely taken circa 1899. 

    Jennie Youngedit.jpg

    Can you spot the school photos in your family album?  They usually look something like this.  This 1899 photo depicts 11 year old Jennie Young. She's Bonnie Bolster's great aunt. 

    schooledit.jpg
    The boy in the front row holds a sign--Coral School District no. 1 May 27, 1898.  The children wear a wide array of styles popular in that period. The flags in the background are likely for Memorial Day.
    schoolsign.jpg

    Thank you for sharing pictures of your ancestors as children!  I'm off to NGS in Cincinnati, Ohio. Please stop by my booth 712 and say hello.


    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

  • 1900-1910 photos | children | school photos
    Monday, May 07, 2012 5:58:04 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [6]
    # Monday, April 30, 2012
    Ancestor Mystery Photos: Unidentified Kids
    Posted by Maureen

    Thank you for all the pictures of your ancestors' cute kids!

    prichard21-A- Josie Powell  Nannie Wilsonedit.jpg
    These little girls are named Josie Powell and Nannie Wilson. Don't you love their identical outfits? They are in a photo album owned by Gwen Prichard. She's trying to establish a relationship between them. Perhaps their mothers were friends? The two girls are even the same height.

    Buchanan.jpg

    Candace Buchanan emailed this lovely trio dressed for winter. The boy in the middle wears attire from his family's cultural background. Buchanan bought the image at an auction and only knows that it was taken in Waynesburg, Pa. Is the dog real or a stuffed prop? It looks a bit unnatural to me.

    childtintypes.jpg

    This unhappy little fellow (look at that expression) posed with hat in hand in the 1860s. Bonnie Bybee-Bolster isn't sure if he from her Young or her Brown family line. The families lived in Baraboo/Delton, Wis.

    piercegirlwithshoesedit.jpg
    Another 1860s pose.  You can see the brace at this girl's feet. I love the fact that she holds a parasol. Rachel Pierce bought this image because of the little girl's shoes. Unfortunately, the photo is completely unidentified.

    cute kids1edit.jpg
    Shelley Baumeister isn't sure who the child is wearing an oversized collar in this photo. She thinks the child is a girl. I think she's right because of the center part in her hairstyle. This photo was passed down through Shelley's maternal line. This child posed in 1887 in Dubuque, Iowa.

    I'll be back next week with more photos of children. My inbox is full of gorgeous images.


    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

  • 1860s photos | 1880s photos | children
    Monday, April 30, 2012 3:16:20 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, April 23, 2012
    Identifying Old Photos of Children
    Posted by Diane

    Genealogists need a sense of humor. You never know what you're going to find. Loretta Gillespie, author of the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree, submitted this photo of two children. Last week I dated it to the mid to late 1880s.

    pierce2.jpg

    To try to solve this mystery, Loretta sent me a link to her Ancestry.com family tree. Her ancestor Isabelle Pierce Wright had 11 children. Loretta is hoping this tintype depicts the two youngest children, Charles Pearl Marion Wright (b. 1877) and Geneva "Neb" Wright (b. 1880). Loretta sees the "Wright ears and weak chin."

    This is a possible identification. Having other photos of the children taken later in their lives would help verify it.

    Loretta's great-grandfather (and Neb's nephew) William Gillespie wrote a poem about Neb:
    Aunt Neb was the youngest, about 16 years old. Her learning was slight, if not zero.
    She'd chew her tobacco and fight for her share,
    And woe to the hombre that got in her hair.
    She could swim like a seahorse and dive like bear,
    And frighten the fish as she came up for air!"
    Next week is all about cute kids. Thank you for submitting all those pictures! (And if you have one to submit, click the "How to Submit Your Photo" link on the left.)


    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 23, 2012 2:58:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # 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]