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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, August 20, 2012
Genealogy Fashions: Is Your Ancestor's Hat Back in Style?
Posted by Maureen

Fashion is looking back not merely to the 1970s, but all the way to the 1920s and even 1880s, at least as far as hats are concerned.

Last Sunday's New York Times fashion supplement featured advertisements showing old-fashioned-looking hats by designers Louis Vuitton and Donna Karan. Even the Bloomingdale's ad featured a model in a vintage style hat.

I can't show you the Louis Vuitton ad, but I can show you hats that resemble the ones worn by the models in the New York Times ads. It was a fashion spread for handbags, but the head wear looked liked these workmen's hats from the 1850s. I'm serious! Vuitton added a grosgrain band above the brim, but the shape is very similar.



Donna Karan's ad is online. The hat on the woman in the video strongly resembles those worn in the 1880s. In fact, I featured a similar looking hat in Photo Contest Submissions: Shirley Jenks Jacobs submitted this photo of a woman in a rolled brimmed hat with trim and a high crown.

Shirley Jenks Jacobs2.jpg

One more blast from the past was the Bloomingdale's ad of a young model wearing a plush hat with a very wide brim and a plume of animal fur. It looked something like this image I own of a wedding from circa 1920.  Don't you love his hair? It helps date this image.

weddingedit.jpg

So which hat style will you wear this season? I'll be looking through the photos in my Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats, 1840-1900 for more matches.


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 | 1880s photos | 1920s photos | hairstyles | hats | ShopFamilyTree.com | unusual photos
    Monday, August 20, 2012 3:55:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, August 13, 2012
    Props in Old Family Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Don't you just love it when family history artifacts pop up in family photos? This is exactly what happened for genealogist Dorothy Jackson Reed.

    In 2007, she became the owner of a Book of Worship with the name Mary K. Fricke embossed in gold on the cover. According to the title page, this book was published by the Lutheran Publication Society in Philadelphia. It has a copyright of 1870, but a section of the book was revised in 1888.

    Mary K Fricke (Katherine Marie) edit.jpg

    Four years later, Dorothy's sister Miriam gave her a photograph of Mary K. Fricke taken by the London Studios in Baltimore. In the picture, Mary appears to be holding the Book of Worship.

    Mary K Fricke (Katherine Marie)bible2.jpg

    Mary was born in 1878 and lived until 1953. Fashion clues date this image to the mid-1890s:
    • The style of the wicker chair. Most photo studios featured wicker furniture at the end of the century.
    • Her large puffy dress sleeves. In the 1890s, women's sleeves are quite distinctive. 
    • The color of the cardstock. White was a popular color in that decade.

    If this picture was taken circa 1895, Mary would've been 17. She's dressed like a girl with long braids and a skirt above the ankles.

    Could this be a confirmation photo? It's quite possible since personalized Bibles were usually given to commemorate religious events. 



    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 | props in photos
    Monday, August 13, 2012 3:57:45 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Thursday, August 09, 2012
    And the Winner is...
    Posted by Maureen

    Several weeks ago we put out a call for images for inclusion in my new book, Family Photo Detective (available for preorder in ShopFamilyTree.com). Pictures poured into my inbox and the Family Tree Magazine inbox, and many were posted on the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page.

    Congratulations to Michael Hanrahan, who sent in the winning image and will receive a copy of the book!

    You'll have to wait for the book for the full story of his photograph, but I thought you'd like to see the picture:



    And a closer look:



    It's a really fun picture of a group of women at a party. Here's what Mike says about it: "These ladies include my great-grandmother, grandmother, and numerous great-aunts. I'm thinking the picture was taken around 1910 in Elmira, NY."

    I'll tell you more about this photo in the future.

    You can view the other entries in our slideshow on Flickr. I'll be featuring many of these images in future blog posts.


    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


  • Improve your genealogical skills and connect with other family historians from the convenience of home at Family Tree University's Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference, taking place Sept. 14-16. Early bird registration ends Friday, Aug. 10 at 11:59 p.m.—just enter code FTUVCEARLY at checkout to save $50!


    1900-1910 photos | group photos | unusual photos | women
    Thursday, August 09, 2012 1:44:18 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, August 06, 2012
    It's a Family Reunion
    Posted by Maureen

    Have you ever been to a family reunion? I'm writing this from my husband's reunion. It's an every-other-year event that's been held since the mid-20th century. There's a lot of debate about when the first one was held. 

    Here are two observations:

    • The coordinator is an energetic cousin who plans activities and dinners.  She's also become involved with creating a family website. What's interesting is that she doesn't consider herself a genealogist. I disagree: iPad in hand, she's busy interviewing family members about past generations to put the information online. Yup ... you guessed it, she's collecting photos, too. The site isn't live yet, but based on her enthusiasm, it will be soon. Can't wait to see what she's created!
    • Family history is everywhere. Whether it's a wedding that happened two weeks ago or figuring out when everyone first got together, there's a lot of history being collected.  It's also being made everyday.  Another cousin chronicles each reunion. She creates an album for every event with the photographs sent to her afterward. Each album is a time capsule.

    If you've been to a reunion (or are planning one) can you comment below and share with readers ideas for photo-related activities to incorporate? We take a family photo at each reunion and snap lots of pictures. What have you done at your reunion? 

    Reunions magazine has a great website. Click any tab and you'll find suggestions for planning a reunion, activities for young and old, and details on sharing the pictures later. The resort where our event is held has a Pinterest site so guests can share photos they've posted. Reunions magazine also has a Pinterest page with dozens of boards. There are family history related t-shirt ideas, invitations, illustrated family trees and more.

    I'm off to fill biodegradable water balloons for the traditional water balloon fight. Back next week with a family history 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

  • Want to improve your genealogical skills and connect with other family historians—all from the convenience of home? Check out Family Tree University's Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference, happening Sept. 14-16. Early bird registration ends Friday, Aug. 10 at 11:59 p.m.—enter code FTUVCEARLY at checkout to save $50!


    Photo-sharing sites | preserving photos | Reunions
    Monday, August 06, 2012 3:52:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, July 30, 2012
    Athletic Ancestors
    Posted by Maureen

    With the world's focus on the Olympics, it's time to think about the athletes in your family. There's a family story related to my husband's grandfather: It's said he was asked to play baseball with the Boston Red Sox, but his father forbade it. His father had other plans for the boy.

    Do you have relative who excelled at a sport?  You can post your pictures to Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page or email them to me. (See our photo submission guidelines.) Don't forget to send me their stories.

    The first London Olympics was held in 1908. You can view the athletes in black and white photos on the Library of Congress website; use "1908 Olympics" as a search term.

    1908 olympicsTR.jpg

    1908 olympicscrop.jpg

    On Sept. 5, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt hosted members of the US Olympic team at his Sagamore Hill home in Oyster Bay, Long Island. On his left is sportswriter P.J. Conway and on his right is James Sullivan, secretary of the 1908 Olympic Committee. This is just one of the images available at the Library of Congress.

    Movies and newsreels were just becoming popular at the time. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can watch an interview with a rower who competed at the 1908 Olympics.

    Here are some fun facts about that first London event:
    • It was supposed to be held in Rome, but when Mount Vesuvius erupted, plans were changed to London. City officials completed the "White City" for the games in under two years.

    • 1,971 men competed versus 37 women

    • The opening ceremony was held April 27 and the games didn't close until October 31.

    • The current length of the marathon was set at these games. Supposedly the race began under the windows of the royal nursery and ended in front of King Edward VII. 

    There were political overtones at this event too. American shotputter and flag carrier Ralph Rose refused to dip the American flag in front of the King. Officials didn't display the Swedish flag, so those team members refused to participate. You'll find more information on Wikipedia and on the HistoryToday website.

    And if your genealogy research includes ancestors who played sports on a school, hobby, amateur or professional team, see our October 2006 Family Tree Magazine guide to researching athletes in your family tree.



    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 | men
    Monday, July 30, 2012 4:18:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [14]
    # Monday, July 23, 2012
    Scenes of Moving Day
    Posted by Maureen

    I've been packing boxes for weeks getting ready to move houses. So how did our ancestors move their belongings in the past? They employed wagons and later, vans similar to the ones companies use today.

    Piketruck moving2.jpg

    Sharon Pike sent in this picture of her father-in-law's Greyhound Van Lines Truck that he drove.  It was taken in the 1940s. When he was on the road, Gene sent his wife Marion postcards nearly every day.

    Check out my Moving Day board on Pinterest. If you haven't used this site yet, it's like an online scrapbook of images found on the web. You can organize your Pinterest images in "boards" and see what others have "pinned" on their boards.  When you scroll over one of the images you can post a comment. Can't wait to see what you have to say!

    Enjoy! 


    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

  • 1940s photos | men | occupational | Photo fun | Photo-sharing sites
    Monday, July 23, 2012 6:35:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, July 16, 2012
    Which War is It?
    Posted by Maureen

    Mike Empting found this photo in a box with other cabinet cards. Only two men in his family served in the military:

    Unknown Soldieredit.jpg

    • his great-grandfather, who at age 35 enlisted for the Mexican American War. He was a bugler. The time frame for this war, 1846 to 1848, coincides with the daguerreotype era. The photos of this war are amazing to look at. Here's a website with several Mexican-American War images.

    • his great-grandfather's wife's brother enlisted in the Civil War in an artillery unit for two tours.

    The problem with this photo is that Empting isn't sure which man is depicted. Adding to the confusion are details on the photographer. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, J.J. Fritz aka the Fritz Studio operated in Saint Cloud from 1892 to 1909. Those work dates don't align with either war.

    The style of this cabinet card suggests the 1890s. At some point during that decade, someone likely had an earlier photograph copied. This was a common practice when multiple family members wanted a copy of a photo. The original photo was a carte de visite, a small card photograph popular during the Civil War.

    In the 1860s, the standard studio pose often included a pedestal on which the subject could lean.

    Since there weren't standard military uniforms during the Civil War, the details in this man's attire may help identify him.

    Mike's not sure this man is an Empting. The woman who gave Mike the images is deceased, but at the time of the gift, she didn't know the name of the soldier.

    National Public Radio recently broadcast a program about identifying a Civil War picture. You can listen to it here.  There's a bit of controversy about whether or not the photo in that story was reversed. It's possible. Reversal lens were available to correct the mirror image inherent in photo technology of the day, but not all photographers used them. 


    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 | Civil War | men | Military photos
    Monday, July 16, 2012 1:21:47 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [10]
    # Monday, July 09, 2012
    Answers to our Farming Ancestor Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    Do you read the comments posted on blogs?  Last week I posted Sharon Pike's photo of a wheat harvest and asked if anyone could identify the thresher.  We then posted the query on Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page.

    Thanks to savvy readers, Sharon now knows which man is her ancestor.

    Pike farming SDedit.jpg

    The thresher is on the far left of this line of men and machines. Her ancestor Will Pike is the man standing up.

    Pike farmingcloseup.jpg

    Thank you to everyone who commented and posted! 

    Here's a call for images.  I'm moving from the Boston area back to my native state of Rhode Island.  It made me wonder if any of you have photographs of your ancestors moving houses. You can email them to me. I'd love to see them.


    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

  • 1910s photos | occupational | unusual photos
    Monday, July 09, 2012 10:48:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, July 02, 2012
    Your Farmer Ancestors: Threshing in South Dakota
    Posted by Maureen

    There are a lot of comments on my posting on the threshing photos I saw last month at Jamboree. I learned a lot about the threshing process.  Thank you! 

    Sharon Pike sent in another picture of threshing wheat. It's of her family in South Dakota.

    Pike farming SDedit.jpg

    Being from the East Coast, I'm not used to seeing such a vast expanse of land. It's so beautiful. The large haystack at the horizon draws your eye from the workers in the foreground to where the sky meets the field.

    On the back of Sharon's photo is a note that states that Will Pike is in back of the "header." She's not sure which part of the machinery is the header. Can someone help out and comment below?

    Will's full name was James William Pike (1887-1931), son of James S. Pike and his wife Hattie Weed. Will traveled around with a crew that harvested wheat. He lived in Brookings, SD, and later settled in Wisconsin.

    Happy Fourth of July this week! I've created a couple of short films on my Vimeo channel to honor the occasion:  One is a colorized engraving depicting a veteran in uniform and the other showcases flags in photographs. I hope you enjoy them!


    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 | holiday | men | occupational
    Monday, July 02, 2012 3:44:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [3]
    # Monday, June 25, 2012
    Photo Contest Submissions
    Posted by Maureen

    A big thank you to everyone that submitted photos to our contest.  The deadline has now passed and I'm gradually working my way through all the images to pick the winning image. The winner will receive a copy of my book, The Family Photo Detective, and the image may even be featured inside. Watch this space for news!

    Here are three of the pictures folks uploaded to the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page. 

    Jen Baldwin.jpg

    Jen Baldwin uploaded this cute pair of siblings—William W. and his sister Bessie Brown. It was taken in Colfax County, Neb., circa 1880. Don't you just love her pantalettes and his long curls.

    Shirley Jenks Jacobs2.jpg 
    Shirley Jenks Jacobs uploaded this photo of her great-grandmother. I love the hat. In the 1880s, hats had tall crowns and lots of trim on the front. You can't see it, but women in this period also wore large bustles. 

    Suzanne Whetzel2.jpg

    Suzanne Whetzel submitted this family portrait of her maternal great-grandparents Mary Ethel (Wade) and Henry Clark Yost with their son (Suzanne's grandfather) James Meryl Yost. James was born in 1908 and this toddler helps date the photo to about 1910.


    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 | 1880s photos | children | group photos | hats
    Monday, June 25, 2012 3:18:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]