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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, April 22, 2013
A Piece of Connecticut History
Posted by Maureen

FreemanHouselibrary(2).jpg
Photo courtesy of Derby (CT) Public Library

Could this woman be Nancy Freeman, widow of  Roswell Freeman, who was one of Connecticut's "Black Governors"? That's the big question, and this query has a lot of pieces.

Janet Woodruff, an archaeologist with the Archaeology Laboratory for African & African Diaspora Studies at Central Connecticut State University, sent me this photo for analysis. Dr. Warren Perry, Prof. Gerald Sawyer, Woodruff, and students and volunteers have been conducting archaeological excavations at this homesite since 2010.

Photographs lie at the intersection of history, genealogy, family history and even archaeology.

The tradition of the Black Governors dates back to Colonial Connecticut. These individuals were elected by members of their communities. The Connecticut State Library has an interesting online article and bibliography.

Roswell and his father Quash were both Black Governors. This property may have been willed to Roswell when his father died. Roswell married Nancy (possibly Thompson) in 1826 and they had 13 children, although records have been found for only nine.

The elderly woman pictured stands in her front yard (the front door is next to the ladder). Behind her is a shed. Archaeologists aren't sure of the purpose of that building. 

I'm trying to answer several questions about this image. Next week, we'll look at a few of the details. There is more research to be done, so watch for updates to this story.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • african american | house/building photos | unusual photos | women
    Monday, April 22, 2013 9:40:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, April 15, 2013
    Old Photos: Are These Sisters or Family Friends?
    Posted by Maureen

    A few weeks ago I featured Jim Cat's picture of women seated on the stoop in front of their house.

    Cat2.jpg

    He recently wrote to tell me more about the women in the picture. His grandmother Mary Florence Filichia Catanzaro was born in Chicago on Feb. 18, 1894.

     cat3.jpg

    Mary had four sisters: Rose (born July 1892), Jennie (born 1900), Virginia (born circa 1902) and Constance (born circa 1906).

    Based on the style of the women's dresses and hair in this image, and a tentative date of circa 1910, only the oldest sisters, Rose and Mary, could be depicted here. The other sisters would be too young.

    If this image was taken at mid-decade, about 1915, the hairstyle of the woman seated second from left would be outdated, but not necessarily those of her companions. By 1915, Jennie was 15. If she's posed with her older sisters here, she'd be the youngest member of this group.

    Clothing and hairstyles changed radically in the second decade of the 20th century. By 1920, many women had shorter hair and wore loose-fitting dresses with shorter hemlines than in recent years.

    Assuming two of these women are sisters, the other two are likely friends. Despite the grainy quality of this type of tintype it should be possible to determine who's who by comparing later photographs of the sisters to this image.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • 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 | women
    Monday, April 15, 2013 2:47:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, April 07, 2013
    Mind-Bending Photo Mystery: Part 2
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about Pam and Art Crawford's family photo dilemma. With both the Crawford and Jones families claiming this couple as their relatives, it's a pixel puzzle.

    crawford2.jpg
     
    This week I'm tackling the costume clues in the image.

    crawfordtie.jpg

    Men's ties and collars can help pinpoint a date. This man wears an all-over patterned tie. The design has a slight diagonal pattern, which suggests it's from about 1930. The points in the collar look longer than a middle-pointed shape, which suggests it might be a 1930s style called the "California Collar." Clark Gable popularized it.

    crawfordcollar.jpg

    Lace collars were very popular in the 1930s. Around the woman's neck are pearls. Simulated pearls could be bought from the Sears catalog for approximately 95 cents. It's very difficult to see due to the shadows in this picture, but her dress has a soft flouncy sleeve. 

    crawfordglasses.jpg

    Both husband and wife wear round glasses. Round shapes were common in the 1920s, but thin metal frames were also still available in the 1930s. Since they probably didn't change glasses very often, it's likely these are from the late 1920s.

    The circa-1930s date eliminates Thomas Jefferson Jones and Mary Jane Williams from consideration. Mary Jane died in 1916.

    When comparing their faces, I noticed that the husband looks older and more frail than his wife.

    This couple could be Art's grandparent's Nathaniel Crawford and Lois Viola Henley. Nathaniel died in 1937.

    The big questions remain: How did Pam's grandmother come to own a copy of this image, and why did she identify the couple as Thomas and Mary Jones?

    Extensive family research by the Crawfords has yet to reveal an answer.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1930s photos | men | women
    Sunday, April 07, 2013 5:19:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Monday, April 01, 2013
    Mind-Bending Photo Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    crawford2.jpg

    Isn't this a nice picture?  It seems so innocuous. Yet this picture is BIG photo mystery that has a couple puzzled: I met Pam and Art Crawford at last month's RootsTech conference. Using my iPad as a voice recorder, I interviewed them about this picture. You can listen to the recording here.

    Pam's grandmother gave her the image in 1975, in the family photo album. She was told it was Grandma and Grandpa Jones. Pam's grandmother was alive at the same time as the couple depicted, so she would have known them.

    Thomas Jefferson Jones was born Nov. 8, 1843, in Christy Twp., Laurence Co., Ill. He married Mary Jane Williams in Lawrence Co. in 1865. Mary Jane was born May 4, 1850, in Covington, Kenton Co., Ky., and moved to Lawrence Co., Illinois as a child.

    Thomas died March 1, 1934, and Mary Jane died Dec. 24, 1916. Both died in Bonpas Twp., Richland Co., Ill.

    Here's the mystery:
    A few months ago, Art's cousin started a Facebook group, "Descendants of David Crawford." Art joined the group and saw this photo, identified as Nathaniel Alpheus Crawford. When he showed it to Pam, she said, "I know that photo!"

    Nathaniel Crawford was born Oct. 21, 1861, in Summerville, Chattooga Co., Ga. He married Lois Viola Henley in 1891. She was born May 27, 1871, in Georgia. They both died in Chattooga Co., Nathaniel on Sept. 13, 1937, and Lois on Aug. 4, 1956.

    Obviously there are multiple mysteries:
    • Who's really in the photo?
    • How did it end up in both families?
    • Is there a relationship between Pam and Art's family?

    It's a real stumper. Let's start with the picture: It's a 20th-century photo—after World War I, based the design of the woman's collar.

    I'm off to the library to figure out the rest of the clues and double-check a few things. I'll be back next week with more details.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • 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 | 1920s photos | men | women
    Monday, April 01, 2013 3:47:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, March 26, 2013
    RootsTech 2013 Report
    Posted by Maureen

    It's easy to describe FamilySearch's RootsTech conference with one word: Wow!

    Photos were the focus this year. Here are a few highlights:

    Thank you to all the readers who stopped by to say hello. I provided photo consultations in the Bringing Stories to Life section of the exhibit hall.

    Since the focus of the conference is technology, I decided to tweet some of the photos I saw. I used my iPad to photograph images and upload them to Twitter and Facebook. You can see them @photodetective on Twitter.  The most unusual image is of a man posed shaving. You'll also see a painted tintype. I'm hoping to share a very different type of photo mystery next week.

    family search.jpg
    A promo for uploading pictures to your FamilySearch family tree.

    findmypast.jpg
    Findmypast.com had an old-fashioned photo studio in the exhibit hall complete with props. How could I resist?

    findmypast2.jpg

    photofacematch.jpg
    PhotoFaceMatch.com was just one of the new companies exhibiting.  This is a facial recognition site, and It's very interesting to see how this technology is developing. You can try the site for free.

    pogue.jpg
    On Saturday, David Pogue, personal technology columnist for the New York Times, gave the keynote speech complete with a grand piano. I'm a big fan of his columns and Missing Manual series of books.

    Whether you were one of the close to 7,000 attendees or someone who watched the live streaming sessions from home, RootsTech was amazing. Can't wait until next year.

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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • 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 backgrounds | Rootstech | snapshots | unusual photos
    Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:52:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 18, 2013
    Intinerant Tintype Artists and Your Family
    Posted by Maureen

    Jim Cat found this photo when his grandmother died. It's one of those family photo mysteries—Jim doesn't know who these women are.

    Cat2.jpg

    I love the way the photographer captured four young women sitting on their front stairs.

    Jim labeled it a daguerreotype, but it's actually a tintype. The spontaneous pose reminds the viewer of a paper snapshot. In fact, tintype "snapshots" were available long before George Eastman invented his amateur negative camera. The word snapshot refers to taking an "instantaneous" image using a handheld camera. It generally means an amateur was taking the picture, but there were professional photographers who specialized in capturing these fleeting moments.

    Itinerant tintypists traveled from town to town in wagons loaded with chemicals, plates and darkroom equipment. Tintype photographers also walked the streets of major cities enticing customers to memorialize their visit with a photo. 

    The tintype was usually presented to a customer in a paper sleeve. I've seen sleeves in bright pink, red, blue and just about every other shade. Some have embossed designs like this one, while others have printed decorations.

    What they all have in common is a tendency to deteriorate. If you own one of these early 20th-century tintypes in a paper sleeve, you should scan it at a high resolution—at least 600 dpi—to preserve the content.

    From the dress styles and the hair, the date of Jim's picture is circa 1910.  The short sleeves and lightweight fabric suggest a warm weather month.

    The woman second from the left has rested a hand on her adjacent companions, a clear sign these are close friends or relatives. Cat thinks these women may be family. I'm waiting for additional information to help with that detail.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • 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 | candid photos | snapshots | Tintypes | women
    Monday, March 18, 2013 2:12:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, March 11, 2013
    Smartphone Camera Tip: Viewing Old Negatives
    Posted by Maureen

    I'm a relatively new smartphone user. While I was waiting for an upgrade, lots of folks got iPhones and other types of smartphones. A few months ago, I finally qualified and picked up a Samsung Galaxy.  

    Some attendees to last month's Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show brought negatives with them for us to decipher. James Morley, of What's That Picture showed me a neat trick with the camera function. If you find yourself facing a batch of negatives at a relative's house and own a smart phone, try the following:
    • Select your camera app
    • Go to settings. On my phone it looks like a gear.
    • Select Effects
    • Select Negative

    Point your camera at the negative and take a picture. It becomes a positive image. This was taken quickly and it works for identification purposes.  It's only a low-resolution picture. Although this isn't a high quality picture worth printing, it's a great way to preview those negatives.

    editWDYTYA negative.jpg

    My apologies to the woman who brought in this glass negative—I can't find your name in my London notes. Thank you for letting me use your picture to illustrate this article.



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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • negatives | preserving photos | unusual photos
    Monday, March 11, 2013 4:02:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, March 03, 2013
    WDYTYA London and a Launch
    Posted by Maureen

    What a busy week! Last week at this time, I was walking through Shakespeare's birthplace recovering from two action-packed days of looking at photos at Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London.  I have some pictures to share.

    As soon as I came home a new project launched: The Last Muster series of books that focus on images of Revolutionary War era folks is becoming a documentary. Genealogy Insider Diane Haddad shared the news. 

    If you're curious about what it's about, watch the trailer in Diane's post and read Judy Russell's blog post at The Legal Genealogist.

    Back to London.

    Guess who I saw when I was there?  Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine podcasts AND Janet Horvoka of Family Chart Masters, aka the Chart Chick. It was cold in London, thus my fleece jacket and scarf.

     WDYTYA1.jpg

    English genealogists love a certain American product too. Couldn't miss this booth:

    WDYTYA2.jpg

    Love to Learn, an English company specializing in online education, gave us a nice place to work with photographs. James Morley of What's That Picture.com and I met with folks on Friday and Saturday. The lines were long again this year. People waited up to two hours to show us their photos.

    WDYTYA4.jpg

    WDYTYA3.jpg

    We saw some amazing pictures, such as the pair of painted daguerreotypes held by these women.

    WDYTYA5.jpg

    This year I decided to count the number of pictures we saw. The total for the two days was over 500!


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • cased images | Photos from abroad | Revolutionary War | unusual clothing | women
    Sunday, March 03, 2013 6:40:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, February 25, 2013
    Who Do You Think You Are? Live!
    Posted by Maureen

    As you read this, I'm still in the London, England area visiting with friends. Here's a glimpse of me at last year's Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show.

    WDYTYA2012.jpg

    It's exhilarating to meet with so many people to discuss their photos. As you can tell from the smile on my face ... it's a lot of fun. I'll have new photos next week.

    I always see so many interesting photos in England. Photographic formats are a little different, and the clothing worn for pictures can identify what someone did for work or if they were a member of the ruling class.

    I'm still working on a US mystery, too. Dick Eastman's blog alerted me to a photo problem at the Levine Museum of the New South. You can view the album here. I've dated the images for the museum. The majority are from the late 1870s, and I am working with them to figure out who's who. Stay posted for updates!


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • 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 albums | Photo fun
    Monday, February 25, 2013 7:28:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, February 17, 2013
    Clues in Old Photo Postcards, Part 2
    Posted by Diane

    Jennifer Bryan sent me a photo-postcard mystery and I featured part one in last week's post.

    This week I'll share what I learned about the recipient of the postcard, Miss Flossie Howell of Baker City, Ore.

    flossiehowelloregon.jpg

    Flossie's friend Desca wrote:
    Hello. Rec'd letter other day ans soon. What are you doing? Still working in store? Its snowing here today and is quite cold. I am feeling pretty good but can't stand much work. Lee is at work. Will come home soon. Do you like the pictures? Lo Desca. 
    I'd estimated the date for this card as circa 1910 based on the attire, so I used Ancestry.com to search the census for that year. I started my search by thinking that Flossie was a nickname for Florence and didn't find any good matches. I should have taken the direct approach. I immediately found a match for Flossie Howell in Baker City. The enumerator appears to have written her last name as "Hawell" rather than Howell.

    Howell1910edit3.jpg

    She's living with Nathaniel B. Starbird, a janitor in a bank, and his wife Ada. Flossie works as a bookkeeper in a grocery store. She was 20 at the time of the census, suggesting a birth year of 1890. You can find this census record using the following link.

    Flossie was born in Kansas, but she didn't know the birthplaces of her parents. The Starbirds were originally from Maine.

    Flossie lived in Baker City from circa 1908. She appears in the Baker City, Ore., City Directory for that year, working as a domestic. You can view the city directory on Ancestry.com.

    I'm still working on the identity of Desca, Hazel and Mabel. Desca turns out to have been a somewhat common name. 

    This week I'm at Who Do You Think You Are Live in London!  Each year I share images from the event.  I'm taking a few extra days in London, so watch for my images in two weeks.

    Next week I'll write about how I'm helping to identify images from a photo album in a historical society. My new book, The Family Photo Detective, has a whole chapter on unraveling clues in photo albums. It's one of my favorite types of mysteries.

    Cheerio!


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • 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 | hairstyles | photo postcards | women
    Sunday, February 17, 2013 7:09:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]