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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, July 22, 2013
A Southern Photo Mystery
Posted by Maureen

Cornelius Webbedit.jpg

The story of a photograph is so much more than its simple details. This is a carte de visite (CDV) image. The mounted size of a CDV is 2.125 x 3.5 inches.  The slight oval shadow on this picture signifies it was once in an album.

When confronted with a photographic album, read it front to back, studying the placement of the images. Who's in the first position?  That's the most important person to the individual who created the album.

In this case, the photo is out of the context of the album.

The photographer's studio is typical for the 1860s. There's a patterned oilcloth on the floor, a plain backdrop, a single drape and a paisley table covering. The studio has given the image a slight tint and added a bit of color to the man's cheeks.

He wears a sack coat, a shawl-collared vest, a long necktie and loose trousers than narrow at the ankle.  At his feet is either the base of the table or a photographer's posing device. The facial hair is typical for the late 1860s.

Stephen Taylor owns this image. He's hoping it depicts his great-great-grandfather Cornelius Webb.  Born in Philadelphia in 1836 to unidentified parents, Cornelius married an Irish immigrant, Mary M. Kennedy, in Charleston, SC in 1859.

The 1860 Federal Census for Charleston lists the young couple living in a boarding house in the third ward (Heritage Quest Online, National Archives film M653, roll 1216, page 252, line 9). He was a tin smith and his personal estate was worth $500. 

Most tin smiths served an apprenticeship of four to six years, then started their own business. It is unclear whether Cornelius actually manufactured goods or just sold them. The term tin smith referred to either. There were merchants in Charleston with the last name of Webb, but more research is needed to determine if Cornelius was one of them.

According to the Frederick Ford's Census of the City of Charleston, 1861 (Charleston, 1861), Cornelius lives in a brick house at 123 Church Street, in the third ward. The Charleston Gaslight Co. owned the building. A quick search on Google maps shows that the house (as long as street numbering didn't change) no longer stands. Looking at the street view provides an indication of what it might have resembled.

Could this be Cornelius Webb?  It seems pretty likely.  He died in 1869 at 33 years of age, leaving behind five small children, including one born that year.

He would have posed for this image between his arrival in the city circa 1859 and his death a decade later. Harvey Teal's book, Partners with the Sun: South Carolina Photographers 1840 -1940 (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2001) documents five photographers who operated studios in Charleston prior to the Civil War. During the conflict, the Confederate government's Tax Act, levied a tax of $50 a year on anyone operating as a photographer (Charleston Mercury, May 9, 1863, page 1). After the war, several new studios opened. Most operated studios on King Street.

The presence of a photographer's imprint on this portrait would help narrow the time frame. Teal's book lists specific dates for photographers.

The man in this image appears prosperous. He's posing clasping his coat at the lapels, a sign of pride. This man appears older than his early 20s, so if this is Webb, it's likely he posed after the Civil War when he was in his late 20s or early 30s.


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

  • 1860s photos | beards | Civil War
    Monday, July 22, 2013 3:23:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, July 14, 2013
    A Multi-Mystery Historical Baby Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    Jim Moses recently found himself with a perplexing family photo mystery. When going through a trunk from his great-grandfather Luther Abner Moses (1860-1905) , he found an intriguing photo.

    WBryanfront.jpg

    It's a wonderful photo of a baby laughing. Everything in the trunk is related to Abner, but this photo is a puzzle. As far as Jim knows, there are no family links to this child.

    On the front it says "W. Bryan (4 months old) January 1893)."  The back is even more confusing.

    WBryanback.jpg

    Along the top edge (to the right—I've turned the image on its side) is "E.R. Pitt."  And in different script, "Compliments of Frank to Earle. Taken by J. Pilbeam (?) with Gen. Miles."

    Underneath that is "Made in Arkansas May 18 (13), 1891." Also written on the card is "Red Cloud and Little Big Horn."

    So many mysteries:
    • Who is W.Bryan?
    • Why is E.R. Pitt written on the back?
    • Who are Pilbeam and Gen. Miles?
    • Who are Frank and Earle?
    • Where was this taken?
    • Why was it in the trunk? 
    • Was the photo taken in 1893 (as on the front of the card), 1891 (as on the back), or neither?

    A search of the 1900 US census on HeritageQuest for W. Bryan resulted in a William Bryan in Arkansas, who was 10 at the time. You can't always trust ages in the census. Could this be the boy depicted in the photo?  Or does the "Arkansas" notation on the back refer to something else?

    The "E.R Pitt" notation could refer to the Earle who received the card from Frank.

    There are no Pilbeams in Arkansas in the 1900 census, but it's not an uncommon name in Michigan, which is where Luther Abner (in whose trunk this photo was found) lived. 

    Gen. Nelson Appleton Miles, whose name appears on the back, served in the Civil War and in the Spanish-American War. He spent two decades fighting on the American frontier and he drove Sitting Bull into Canada after the Battle of Little Big Horn. The names Little Big Horn and Red Cloud appear on the card.

    Could these be notes for something else? I've seen the backs of cabinet card photos used as scratch paper filled with math problems or handwriting samples, but in this case, some of the information seems more significant. 

    It's a picture mystery with lots of different threads to follow. There's one other thing to consider: Our ancestors collected interesting images. Perhaps this was an image bought because it's unusual. In an age when most people posed with serious expressions, the image of a baby laughing was an anomaly.

    In the meantime, I'll keep digging. These multi-layered mysteries are frustrating but fascinating. 


    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

  • 1890s photos | african american | children | unusual photos
    Sunday, July 14, 2013 4:39:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, July 07, 2013
    Clues, Cousins and Contacts: Three Ways to Solve a Photo Mystery
    Posted by Diane

    What does it take to solve a picture mystery? In this case it's clues, cousins and contacts.

    ThomazinTintype Tintededit.jpg

    June Thomazin is determined to solve this tintype mystery! I featured it in my Photo Detective column in the September 2010 Family Tree Magazine (you can get a download of that Photo Detective column or the full issue at ShopFamilyTree.com).

    She was hoping someone would come forward with more information, but no one did. Here's how the story evolved.

    Clues
    Back in 2010, June submitted two painted tintypes. I studied them and suggested they were taken in the late 1860s. Tintypes, patented in 1856, remained popular until the mid-20th century. The wide lapels on the man's jacket and the woman's belted dress fit the period.

    Cousins
    In June's tireless search for an answer, she discovered three other copies of this picture owned by various cousins. At some point, a descendant of this couple took the image to a studio to be copied and had different versions of it made. Of the four existing images, two are tintypes and two are crayon portraits (photos enhanced with charcoal and artist's materials).

    One cousin owns the tintype above. His mother wrote on the back "Grandma Dunaway's parents." June and her cousin thought this meant Wesley and Elizabeth (Close) Newman.

    In another cousin's collection is this tintype:

    Thomazin2TinType painted (5).jpg

    In the 1860s, photographers had reversal lens. Some tintypes are reversed images, while others are corrected. Two of the cousins' four images have the husband seated on the viewer's right; in the other two, he's seated on the viewer's left.

    The other two versions of the photo are paper prints.

    This four-fold mystery raises a lot of questions:
    • Who had the copies made?
    • Is one an original, or is the original image missing?
    • Are there other copies?

    Three of the four images are owned by cousins who descended from James William "Harvey" Dunaway (1829-1880) and his wife Treasy Humphress Bateman (1820-1901). Could this be the link that June's been hoping to find? 

    June created this graphic to illustrate who owns what.

    ThomazinMystery-Coupleedit.jpg


    Contacts
    In May 2010, I'd posted about June's detective work trying to identify a cabinet card. That post disproved a caption identifying the couple.

    NEWMANs.jpg

    A distant relative saw that blog post and sent June a copy of the exact cabinet card. This couple turned out to be the Newmans. The tintypes above show some other couple. It was an online Family Tree photo reunion

    She had such good luck with the last photo posted here, that she's crossing her fingers that a Dunaway descendant will be able to figure out who is in the tintypes. 

    I hope so too!  I'd love to write another reunion 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

  • 1860s photos | enhanced images | Tintypes
    Sunday, July 07, 2013 8:30:06 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]
    # Sunday, June 30, 2013
    John L. Burns: Civil War Sharpshooter at Age 69
    Posted by Maureen

    This week the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. For three days, July 1-3, 1863, Union and Confederate forces fought. When it was over, 50,000 had died. It was the bloodiest battle of the war.

    One of the men who survived the battle wasn't even enlisted—he volunteered on the spot. John L. Burns, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, tried several times to enlist for the Civil War but was turned away because of his age. He was 69. 

    Instead, he served as a teamster until sent away to his hometown of Gettysburg.

    gettsburg Burns.jpg

    On July 1, Burns left home with his flintlock musket and powder horn in hand, ready to fight for the Union. Accounts mention that he dressed in clothing he'd worn 40 years ago: trousers and a blue "swallow tail" waistcoat with brass buttons and a tall black silk hat. 

    Maj. Thomas Chamberlin of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and his regimental commander Col. Langhorne Wister allowed Burns to join the fight near the McPherson farm as a sharpshooter. A wounded soldier gave Burns his Enfield rifle. Wounded several times, Burns crawled away and encountered Confederates. He managed to convince them he was trying to find help for his invalid wife. Their doctor bandaged his wounds and Burns found shelter in the cellar of a nearby house, and later, at home.

    Mathew Brady sent one of his photographers, Timothy O'Sullivan, to photograph Burns at his house. That image and the story of his bravery made this senior citizen a national hero.

    In November of that year, President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg to deliver his address at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery.  He requested to meet Burns. After the war,  E. and H.T. Anthony issued sets of stereographs of Brady's Civil War scenes. They included O'Sullivan's image of Burns in "The War of the Union."

    Gettysburg John L. Burns.jpg

    Burns died in 1872.

    There are a few photographs of Abraham Lincoln taken while at Gettysburg.

    In this image, Lincoln lacks his high hat, but his face and beard are clearly visible.

    Gettysburg lincoln at gettysburg.jpg

    This Brady picture was only rediscovered in the National Archives in 1952.

    gettysburg close lincoln at gettysburg.jpg 

    Lincoln spoke for only two minutes, after a two-hour oration by the well-known speaker Edward Everett. At the time, the crowd greeted Lincoln's remarks with slight applause. Yet today, those seconds remain a part of our national heritage. Schoolchildren memorize these words:
    "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
    You can learn more about the Gettysburg Address in Smithsonian Magazine and see more photographs of the battlefield in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.  Use "Gettysburg" as the search term. You can read about Civil War photographs in Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album.

    All the images in this article are from the Library of Congress.


    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

  • 1860s photos | Abraham Lincoln | Civil War
    Sunday, June 30, 2013 3:55:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, June 23, 2013
    Fathers and Sons from Readers
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about two famous fathers and asked you to submit photos of fathers and sons in your family album.  Thank you very much for sending in your photos!

    fatherHans C  S  Hegstededit.jpg
    Geraldine Rudloff emailed this photograph of her immigrant ancestor Hans Christian S. Hegsted holding one of his children. She's not sure if this is the first born son who died in Denmark at age 3 or one born later on. Hans immigrated in 1865. 


    fatherDalton Evan Alma  Stutz Bearcat-edit.jpg

    Proud Papa Dalton Godfrey posed seated on the running board of his 1918 Stutz Bearcat with his two youngest children, Evan and Alma. When this picture was taken in 1922 the family lived in Joplin, Missouri.  Gwen Prichard thinks her 16 year old father took the photo of his father and siblings.

    father1904Pauledit02 (2).jpg

    Carol Jacobs Norwood sent in two pictures. This one and the one below. Both were taken in Germany.

    In this 1904 photo her 4 year old grandfather Paul Emil Helmuth Drömer poses with his 43 year old father Theodor Albert Gustav Drömer.  She believes it was taken in Potsdam, Germany.

    father1904Gerhardedit04.jpg

    This casual portrait captures Carol's great-grandfather Dr. Hermann Theodor Simon with his youngest son, Gerhard Hermann Simon (born 1903).  It was likely taken in 1904 at their family home in Göttingen, Germany. Gerhard's life took an unpleasant turn during World War II. While serving in the war, he was taken prisoner later starved to death in 1946 in a Russian POW camp.

    Over the years Carol Norwood and Gwen Prichard have shared many of her family pictures in this blog. If you'd like to see others type Gwen or Carol's names into the search box in the left hand column below the "categories" links.



    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

  • 1860s photos | 1900-1910 photos | children | men
    Sunday, June 23, 2013 6:06:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 16, 2013
    Famous Fathers: Happy Father's Day
    Posted by Maureen

    Father's Day wasn't official until 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation making it the third Sunday in June. President Richard Nixon made it a permanent holiday in 1972. 

    Other presidents wanted to designate a day to honor fathers. President's Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge both tried. In Wilson's case, Congress wasn't in full support because members feared the day would become commercialized. Coolidge suggested that the United States observe the day but never issued a proclamation.

    At least two men who occupied the Oval Office were fathers of young children at the time. They lived a century apart: Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. As we know, they shared a tragic fate as well, both being assassinated while in office.

    lincoln and son.jpg

    On February 9, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad visited the Mathew Brady Gallery in Washington, D.C.  In this photo, they're looking at an early photo album. There's additional information on the history of the first photo albums in Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album.


    JFK_and_family_in_Hyannis_Port,_04_August_1962.jpg

    Almost 100 years later Photographer Cecil Stoughon took this picture of President Kennedy and family in Hyannis Port, Mass., on Aug. 4, 1962.

    Image credits for the images are contained in the web links.

    While it's common to see 19th century images of women posed with children, I've not found very many pictures of men posed just with their offspring.  If you have one, please share it with me. You can email it or submit it using the "how to submit your photo" link.


    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

  • 1860s photos | 1960s photos | children | men
    Sunday, June 16, 2013 5:54:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 09, 2013
    Four Times the Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    There is so much to love in this photo collage--the smiling face, the cute baby, and the timeless shot of a mother and child. The problem is that Michael Thompson has no idea who she is.
    Thompson editUnknown002.jpg

    Each image is tiny, only about an inch in size. They were all glued to a single square photo mount. It's definitely a photo collage. So who is she?

    He's not sure, but instead of letting this image gather dust in a box of other unidentified photos, he's created a family website using Joomla. He's added a plug-in called Joaktree that takes a GEDCOM file and extracts it.  The end result...well take a look at Thompson's site and see what you think. I thought it was pretty neat.  

    There are ways to determine her identity.
    • First date the picture.  Her hairstyle is twentieth century.  It's known as the Wavy Shingle.  It was popular with women who had a permanent wave put in their hair or those who curled it in the Marcel style. Those waves are a key identifier of a Marcel wave. This hairstyle was particularly popular circa 1929. The top two pictures depict her in short wavy hair. In the bottom left image, she's let her hair grow out and it's smooth rather than wavy.  That adorable baby would specifically date this picture.
    • Determine ownership. Who owned this picture? His grand-uncle owns this picture but he can't remember who's in the picture.  It could be a friend of the family and not a relative.
    • Make a few assumptions.
      • Suppose this young woman was about twenty years of age in 1929? Then she would be born circa 1909.
      • Suppose the baby was born circa 1930?

    Take these two assumptions and test them by fitting that information into the birth date of the grand uncle. He may have known her as an older woman or his parent's knew her. 

    Showing the grand-uncle a list of all family members born circa 1930 might trigger his memory.

    I'll be looking at the unknown images on Thompson's website to see if there are any matches.  Another identified picture of her might exist in his family collection. A positive ID could result from comparing her round face and smile to other images.

    The final ID will come from testing the facts and comparing pictures.



    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

  • 1920s photos | 1930s photos | children | hairstyles | women
    Sunday, June 09, 2013 3:49:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, June 03, 2013
    A Hand-Colored Photo Gem
    Posted by Maureen

    The other night my husband asked, "How do you find something to write about every week?" 

    There's an easy answer: Every photo collection is unique, and every photo tells a story. You've been sharing photographs with me for more than a decade and no two images are exactly the same.

    Take this week's image, for instance. It's a superior example of sophisticated hand-coloring. It's subtle and gorgeous. The unknown photographer and/or an artistic assistant knew how to turn an ordinary photograph into a painting.

    sarahhandcolorededit.jpg

    Hand-colored images like this one allow us to see details in our ancestors' clothing and furniture choices. The maroon chair is a common prop in pictures as of the late 1860s. I know from other images that other colors also were used. I've seen such chairs tinted a grassy shade of green.

    This young woman wears a scarf around her neck. The studio colored it in a slightly darker shade of maroon than the chair. It's a perfect accessory to her soft gray dress. While I've seen other images tinted, I rarely see one where the studio has taken time to tint the hands and face. The end result—this young woman looks like she could walk out of the frame and say hello.

    Robert Stoy sent in this picture of Sarah Simmons (1852-1892) of Georgia. Her clothing suggests it was taken in the late 1870s. Her bodice extending past her waist and scarves of this style were worn in this period.

    By the time Sarah posed for this picture, studios had been coloring photographs for decades. Even early daguerreotypists of the 1840s employed artists to add color to their images.

    It's a gem of an image.

    You can learn more about hand-colored images in my book Family Photo Detective.


    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

  • 1870s photos | women
    Monday, June 03, 2013 3:27:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 26, 2013
    Decoration Day, 1868
    Posted by Maureen

    History intersects at ironic moments that make the past very interesting. Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day, is one of those moments.

    All over the United States on this day, towns hold parades and locals decorate veterans' graves. This stereo image from the Library of Congress depicts the first Decoration Day, held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868.

    First Decoration Day.jpg

    A who's who of national figures gathered to pay their respects to the Union soldiers buried on the property of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. That land also has a connection to the American Revolution.

    It originally belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and the adopted son of George Washington.

    georgecustis.jpg

    When he died, the land was owned by his daughter, the wife of Robert E. Lee. During the Civil War, the property was used for military purposes. The US government bought it at a tax sale and dedicated 200 acres for a national cemetery. Approximately 16,000 Civil War soldiers are buried there.

    The reviewing stand featured flags, bunting and touches of black. Two future presidents were in the stand that day.

    decoration daycropped.jpg

    Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. James A. Garfield are in this photo. Grant served as President from 1869 to 1877; Garfield served only 200 days before his assassination in 1881.

    Garfield, who was a member of Congress, delivered the oration. He began with the following:
    "I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden it must be here beside the graves of 15,000 men, whose lives were more significant than speech and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung." (The New York Herald, May 31, 1868, page 10)
    There is debate over which city held the very first Decoration Day. In 1868, May 30th was selected because it didn't commemorate any battles and because flowers are in bloom. The last Monday in May didn't officially become Memorial Day until 1971.

    Take a look at your family photo collections and see if you have photos of any veterans in your family. I'm going to post my pictures of those individuals on my social media pages to honor them.


    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

  • 1860s photos | Civil War | Revolutionary War
    Sunday, May 26, 2013 4:29:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, May 20, 2013
    The World War I Era in Color
    Posted by Maureen

    May is the month of gardens and Memorial Day, so I thought I'd take a peek into gardens of the past. On the Library of Congress website, I discovered this gorgeous color image that depicts an important moment in the history of 20th-century gardening.

    editworld war 1 garden.jpg

    While commercially successful color photography was still a few decades away, early 20th century photographers relied on artistic mediums to add color to their images. Even early daguerreotypists colored their photographs.

    During the WWI period, hand-colored glass slides made everyday scenes come to life. In this lantern slide, two boys (one wearing roller skates) and a man read the notices for a garden.

    editworld war 1 gardencloseup.jpg

    They stand in Bryant Park, at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in New York City, in August 1918.

    Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) photographed this scene for us to illustrate a lecture to women's gardening clubs. She was a famous female photographer who took portraits of well-known figures throughout her career. She was also a proponent of historic preservation.  Sam Watters featured lantern slides by Johnston in his book Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 (Acanthus Press, 2012).

    The garden in this photo was part of the National War Garden Commission of 1918. While Victory Gardens are usually associated with World War II, they were also popular during World War I. People planted gardens in public places and at home. There were even rooftop gardens.

    You can read more about these gardens and their history in Gena Philbert-Ortega's From The Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes.

    Charles Lathrop Pack established The National War Garden Commission in August 1917. The war effected food production and he thought American's could boost output by creating small gardens. It's estimated that there were more than 5 million of these gardens during the war.

    You can view other WWI-era color images on the Library of Congress website. Browse the Frances Benjamin Johnston collection to see other examples of her work.

    If you have a photo of an ancestral garden, please submit it to me and I'll post it here.


    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 | World War I
    Monday, May 20, 2013 1:23:43 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]