Free Updates

Let us tell you when new posts are added!

Email:

Navigation

Categories

Search

Archives

<December 2013>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
24252627282930
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930311234

by Maureen A. Taylor

More Links










# Monday, December 23, 2013
A Look Back at Photo Detecting in 2013
Posted by Maureen

It's time for the end of the year round-up just in case you missed one of these columns.  Here are some of my favorites from 2013.

January

The Inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln. On March 4, 1865, Lincoln began his second term in office. Photographers were there to capture the crowds standing in the rain.  Perhaps your ancestor was there? 

I'm a huge fan of Downton Abbey so it was a natural choice to write about the fashions worn on the show in Downton Abbey and Your Family Photos.  The new season starts this January and I can't wait!


February

If you've ever walked into an antique shop, spotted an identified photo and thought I'd like to help reunite it with family then you're not alone. Here are some tips on how to do just that in Reuniting Orphan Photos With Family.

March

I came back from Who Do You Think You Are Live! in London with a tip for smart phone users.  You can use your phone to look at negatives.  It's an amazing use for the device we all have. Here's how you can do it too.

April
How can a husband and wife from unrelated families end up with the same photo of a supposed relative?   Same photo with different identifications. It's a mind-bending mystery in two parts.  Part One and Part Two.

May
Two part mysteries are so much fun to work on that I featured another one. This time it was two Italian family photos found in a box with a note. You'll have to read parts one and two to see who's who.

June
 The nation honored the 150th anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg.  Burns was 69 at the time he fought as a civilian.  You can read about his remarkable story in John L. Burns, Civil War Sharpshooter.

July
A lovely handcolored carte de visite from Charleston, South Carolina is the subject of A Southern Photo Mystery.  Is it Cornelius Webb?  Follow the genealogical bread crumbs to see how it adds up.

August
Don't you love when a ancestor puts a name over the head of someone on the front of a photo? The problem in the Marsteller family is that only one person in the group portrait is identified. The rest of the folks are unidentified. Is this a photo of Pennsylvania relatives?  Are they the relatives of the man's father who died suddenly as a young man?  It's another two part mystery.  Looking for a Pennsylvania Connection and The Marsteller Old Photo Mystery

September
Photo albums tell a story of friends and family. Here are some tips on how to read your family album. Adding up all the clues in this man's family album led to a photo identification home run--ID's for all three images.

October
Spotting a copy in your family collection can be a challenge. In part one I showed how I identified a picture as a copy of an earlier photo and in part two there are tips on what to look for in your own photos.

November
A lot of former switchboard operators wrote to me after a picture of women switchboard operators appeared in this space. Ask the women in your family if they worked and interview them about their jobs.  You might be surprised by the stories they tell.

December
Here's a classic Irish tale of love and loss in two parts with a few letters and photos too. When a man's wife dies leaving him with several small children. He returns home to Ireland.  The oldest son decides he'd rather live in America and moves back.  His younger brother writes persuasive letters trying to convince his big brother to let him follow him to Massachusetts.  I won't tell you how it ends.  It's a heartbreaking Christmas story.

Happy Holidays!  Watch this space for new family photo stories in 2014.  It's easy to submit your own photo mystery. Just click the link on the left, How To Submit Your Photo.



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

  • 1850s photos | 1860s photos | 1900-1910 photos | Civil War | group photos | hats | men | Military photos | occupational | photo albums
    Monday, December 23, 2013 3:25:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 16, 2013
    A Gleasure Family Story
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about Ben Naylor's letters from the Gleasure Family in Ireland and the photos in the collection. Here's more of the story.

    When Frank Gleasure emigrated to Natick, Mass., about 1900, he left behind a number of younger siblings.

    For several years, his brother Joseph wrote letters imploring his big brother to let him move to America, too. He told of studying so he'd be ready for an office job. His dream was to move closer to his brother and seek his fortune in Massachusetts.

    Joseph Gleasure Litowel2.jpg
    Joseph Gleasure, circa 1905
    On Dec. 13, 1905, Joseph wrote: "I expect you will take me out to America about next March or April. I would not stop here any longer, I am totally sick of it.  If I stopped here any longer I would be getting too old nearly to be taken in an office. I am always thinking of what kind of a job I would get after landing. I would like to be in the Excise or Customs or some job you would be sure of. I think it is easy to get into the Excise or any Government position. Any how, I must till I get over first and then I would know what would be best."
    Two years later, Frank finally agreed that his brother could join him in America. The 21-year-old Joseph arrived in Boston May 10, 1907. He didn't find his dream job in Customs or Excise.  He ended up working on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in Boston.

    Not every American dream brought fortune and happiness. Often, immigrants found economic disappointments and tragedy. Only a few months later, Frank had to write to his family and provide sad news. While coupling cars at Boston's South Station on Dec. 19, 1907, Joseph was caught between two cars that collided, killing him instantly.  The newspapers reported that his death was one of two similar incidents that day.

    You can read more about the incident on Ben's blog.

    By searching the letters, Ben found the first mention of a camera. Joseph took the candid pictures featured in last week's posting. In his Dec. 13, 1905, letter he sent his brother Christmas greetings and enclosed a few pictures.

    You can search the Gleasure Letters by using the Blogger search box in the upper left hand corner of the screen.


    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

  • 1900-1910 photos | Immigrant Photos | Photos from abroad
    Monday, December 16, 2013 5:52:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, December 09, 2013
    The Old Man
    Posted by Maureen

    Two years ago, Ben Naylor discovered this photograph of a older gent. Ben is stumped about the man's identity. 

    naylor2The Old Man (2).jpg

    Every photo tells a story and this one is no different. Ben's great-great-grandfather, Irish immigrant George Gleasure (1858-1921), had five children and raised them in Natick, Mass. 

    Frank was the oldest child (born in 1882). In 1896, George's wife suffered a fall and died. George immediately moved his whole family back to Kerry County, Ireland. Frank stayed in Ireland for five years until he was 18, and moved back to Natick in about 1900.

    For the next 60 years, Frank exchanged letters and photographs with his family in Listowel, Kerry County, Ireland. Ben's family didn't know about the letters and images until they were discovered in a trunk when his mother's uncle passed away. You can read these letters on Ben's blog The Gleasure Letters.

    Now back to the photo mystery: There were other images in the trunk including this one captioned "My brother George."

    naylorMy Brother George (2).jpg

    The appearance of the two photos leads me to believe that one of young George's siblings owned a camera.  Both are candid images on roughly cut photo paper glued to heavy paper. Fingerprints are visible on the prints. Perhaps this sibling had a darkroom.

    naylorMy Brother George fingerprint (2).jpg

    The younger George was Frank's younger brother (born 1894).  If he was approximately 10 to 12 years old in the above candid photo, it would've been taken between 1904 and 1906.  There's also a photo of Annie Gleasure, Frank and George's sister (born 1884), taken at about the same time.

    So who's the older man? If the photographer was one of Frank's siblings, the man could be their father, the Irish immigrant George Gleasure. In 1906, he would have been 58. Or it could be Ben's third-great-grandfather Francis Gleasure (1825-1911). In 1906, he was 81. 

    I don't think the man in the first photograph is old enough to be 81, suggesting the image is George Gleasure born 1858. 

    Love his muttonchops! This type of facial hair was very common in the 1880s. Men tended to retain the facial hair of their younger years.

    Ben's family has left him quite a legacy of letters and images to reveal the lives of the people on his family tree.
     


    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

  • 1900-1910 photos | beards | Immigrant Photos
    Monday, December 09, 2013 5:27:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, December 01, 2013
    Holiday Crafts: Photo Ornaments
    Posted by Maureen

    Are you feeling crafty? It's time for some photo-related holiday crafts.

    Margaret Cole used copies of her family photos as Christmas ornaments:
     
    ColeFamily Tree2 (2).jpg

    Here's how she did it:

    Each photo is 3x4 inches. She printed each image on matte photo paper and to make it sturdy, used photo-safe glue to mount it onto heavy art paper from a 9x12 inch pad cut into 3x4 inch pieces.

    colefront2.jpg

    There's more! On the back of each ornament is family tree information—birth, death and marriage data.

    cole closeup.jpg

    Margaret printed the information from her Ancestry.com family tree using the "publish" format.  She used either the "Person Report-Individual Report" or "Relationship Report-Family Group Sheet." She adjusted the print size to 3x4 inch format and glued it on.

    She added a narrow ribbon to frame each photo and make a loop for hanging.

    Thank you Margaret!

    If you want to see more photo crafts check out my past columns, Photo Crafts From Our Readers and Photo Craft Directions, as well as Family Tree Magazine's Family History Crafts and Gifts Pinterest board.

    You can also order some pretty neat photo-related gifts at Ancestry Games and sites like Snapfish.com.

    I'd love to hear about your photo crafts. You can email me and tell me all about it.


    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

  • holiday | Photo fun
    Sunday, December 01, 2013 6:30:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, November 24, 2013
    Photo Storytelling on the Holidays
    Posted by Maureen

    This week I took another look at all my family photos and was suddenly struck by a realization. My family takes pictures in the spring and summer. There are few images of autumn and fewer still of winter snow.  We're warm weather photographers. 

    Documenting This Year's Thanksgiving/Hanukkah

    This year I aim to turn that tide by taking a few pictures. In documenting the present I'm preserving it for future generations.  While I'll be busy in the kitchen, I'm going to assign a shot list to someone in the family. I'll start with the following:
    •  A picture of family members arriving
    • An image of the kitchen preparations.
    • The family gathered around the turkey and trimmings
    • Pictures of attendees in small groups--parents, children and cousins.

    I'm thinking of buying a prop or two for fun.  How about a Pilgrim style hat or bonnet?  I might be able to encourage everyone to pose wearing it. Then again...maybe not.

    • What are you going to take pictures of this Thanksgiving/Hanukkah? 

    Documenting the Past

    A shared meal is a great time to share stories and photo. Armed with my iPad "Voice Recorder" app, I'm going to record those tales. (Of course, it's possible to do this recording using my phone too, but I like my iPad.)

    I'm thinking of decorating the table with baby or childhood photos of the family in attendance.  This ought to get them talking <smile>. 

    Photo storytelling starts with questions. Back when I was in elementary school, I had an English teacher who drilled into us the five basic questions to use to build a story: who, what, where, when and how.  

    I'll bring out some other old family photos and see what happens.

    • Do you have any tips for getting family members to share family history? 

    I'll let you know what happens.  

    Happy Thanksgiving!  Happy Hanukkah!


    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

  • group photos | holiday | preserving photos
    Sunday, November 24, 2013 7:44:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, November 17, 2013
    Old Family Photos on Postcards
    Posted by Maureen

    Frieda Tata submitted this lovely photo of two women and a girl for some advice. She knows the young woman on the right is her grandmother Mae Davis (born 1888 in Brownwood, Mo.). 

    This is a photo postcard.
     
    threewomen.jpg

    One of the most common questions about family photos is, "My ancestor had their photograph taken and it's a postcard. What does that mean?"

    I love real-photo postcards (RPPC) because there are several ways to date them. 
    • Real photo postcards debuted about 1900. That immediately gives you a beginning time frame for the image.

    • While the photo here was taken in a studio, it is possible your ancestor took their postcard photo themselves. Kodak's No. 3A camera, introduced in 1903, let amateur photographers take images and have them printed on postcard stock.

    • Flip the card over. Does it have a divided back for the address and correspondence, or is there just space for the address? This little detail can further refine the time frame. On March 1, 1907, federal legislation finally let postcard senders write messages on the back of the cards they sent. 
    •  Take a good look at the stamp box. The designs of those boxes can help date your image as well. They identify the paper manufacturer. For instance, AZO is a popular manufacturer.  Compare your designs to those described on the Playle website.

    • If the postcard was mailed, look at the stamp design and the postmark for a specific date.

    Mae's birth year suggests that this photo was taken circa 1908. I'd love an image of the back to see what clues it holds.

    Last week I wrote about women in World War I and featured photos of  Dora Rodriques. Thank you to Wendy Schnur for telling me more about the Holland-born actress who supposedly walked across the United States to promote recruitment.


    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

  • 1900-1910 photos | photo postcards | women | World War I
    Sunday, November 17, 2013 4:13:54 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, November 10, 2013
    Women in World War I
    Posted by Maureen

    What did your WWI-era female ancestors do in World War I? On Veterans Day, we typically honor the men and women who served in the military. But what about all the women who didn't serve, but supported the war effort?

    The theme of Who Do You Think You Are Live in London next year is World War I. Next year is the centennial of the start of the war in Europe (the United States got involved in 1917).

    During World War I, women:
    • worked in factories so men could enlist (and to support their families while the men were away)
    • volunteered for the Red Cross
    • worked as Army and Navy nurses
    • served the military in clerical positions
    • knit socks for the troops
    • participated in Victory Bond fundraising
    • marched in Preparedness Day parades to encourage U.S. involvement
    Women also acted as recruiters to encourage men to join the service.
    Young, attractive women often stood alongside male recruiters in uniform

    Dora Rodriguez was one of those recruiters. At the Library of Congress, there are three images of her in uniform taken by the National Photo Company. I'm sure the sight of a woman in pants and a uniform drew a lot of attention.

    dora rodriques 28170v.jpg

    dora 2 28171r.jpg

    dora 3 28172r.jpg

    Some who served overseas as nurses and Red Cross volunteers took cameras with them. Many women kept photo albums during the war.

    At the time of the 1910 census, most individuals with the surname of Rodrigues lived in Puerto Rico. A quick search of Ancestry didn't turn up any immediate hits for her. I suspect her birth name is something other than Dora.


    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 | unusual clothing | women | World War I
    Sunday, November 10, 2013 5:27:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, November 04, 2013
    Women at Work: Switchboard Operators
    Posted by Maureen

    Somewhere in these two pictures is Carilyn Bernd's maternal grandmother, Delma Ragan. Delma was born in 1902. She married Leo Ragan in 1922 and gave birth to twins in 1924.  Just three years later, she died at age 25. At some point, Delma was a telephone switchboard operator in Cherryvale, Kan.

    Bernd work001.jpg

    Each cable in this photo connects to a telephone line. These four operators were required to be polite and discrete. The older woman supervises their demeanor. The two young women at the desk on the left appear to be operating a telegraph machine. The clock on the wall tells us that the photographer captured them at work at 11:05 a.m. 

    Bernd work002.jpg

    Here, the women are in a break room reading, socializing and smiling for the camera.

    So which one is Delma?  There are several young women that could be her. If the family has another picture of her, they can compare the two and identify her.

    The early 1920s were a time of transition for fashion. The dropped waists of the Flappers were just beginning to make an appearance.  Short hair was becoming fashionable.

    On the far right sits a young woman in a Middy Blouse. Sears Catalogs sold the sailor-collared shirt. The fabric choice determined the price. Jean fabric middies sold for less than a dollar; those made from wool flannel sold for approximately $4.

    I'm hoping that Delma posed for a least one other picture before she died.



    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 | occupational | women
    Monday, November 04, 2013 4:35:20 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [4]
    # Monday, October 28, 2013
    Photo Reunions after Hurricane Sandy
    Posted by Maureen

    A year ago, Hurricane Sandy stormed into the East Coast of the United States destroying property and taking lives. Generations of family photographs were blown or washed out of destroyed and damaged houses. In the midst of the aftermath and chaos, one woman began focusing on images she found scattered along the shoreline and roads of her community of Union Beach, NJ.

    Jeannette von Houten found thousands of images scattered all over the place covered in mud and mold. This rescue effort took time and money. Personal historian Mary Danielsen pitched in to help and the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Co. provided scanners.

    A conservator colleague of mine suggested the team wear gloves for handling the very dirty images and masks to prevent them from inhaling chemicals and mold. Instead of distilled water, cold tap water sufficed to wash the images. This is a delicate task. Immersion in water could destroy the pictures, but with the damage they'd already experienced due to exposure to the elements and water-borne debris, it was worth the risk. Do not attempt this type of rescue without professional advice.

    Today, Jeannette and her cousin Joseph Larnaitis continue the task. Out of the approximately 25,000 images found, about 5,000 have been saved. Anyone who lost pictures during the storm should consult the project website, Union Beach Memories.

    union beach.jpg

    Not all of the photos are online. The Union Beach Library has 60 binders of images waiting to be claimed.

    According to Jeannette, many families are just finding out about this photo rescue. Let's help her reconnect families with their photos by spreading the word.

    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

  • Hurricane Sandy | Photo-sharing sites | preserving photos | Reunions
    Monday, October 28, 2013 2:43:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, October 21, 2013
    Clues in an Old Photo Copy: Who Is She?
    Posted by Maureen

    Two weeks ago I wrote about Shirley Dunkle's image, a copy of an earlier photo. The clues added up to suggest the photo was copied about 1900, but that this woman in the image sat for the original portrait in the mid 1850s.

    Dunkle - Moores family - About 1860.jpg

    Shirley has a possible identification for this woman based on the date: She young woman could be Mary Jane Smethurst. She was born May 24, 1839, in Middleton, Lancashire, England. She married James Roberts March 31, 1861, in St. Mark's, Dukinfeld, Cheshire, England. 

    After the death of her husband in 1885, Mary Jane and many of her children immigrated to Massachusetts in 1888. She died in 1916.

    If this is Mary Jane,she was approximately 17 years of age and living in England when she sat for this portrait.

    I have one last question. What type of photograph was the original?

    In the United States, photographs taken in the mid-1850s were primarily daguerreotypes. These are shiny and reflective, and quite distinctive in their appearance. But when I looked at photographs at the Who Do You Think You Are Live show in London, it was quite apparent that the English didn't embrace the daguerreotype. 

    William Henry Fox Talbot, an English photographic inventor, introduced a type of paper print that was popular in the 1850s: the salted paper print, produced from paper negatives.

    Frederick Archer invented photographs on glass in 1851. His ambrotype process competed with both the salt paper print and the daguerreotype. The Ambrotype didn't become popular in the United States until the mid-1850s. 

    Shirley's family no longer owns the original photograph. I'm hoping another of Mary Jane's descendants still does and can shed some light on just what type of picture their ancestor posed for.


    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

  • 1850s photos | ambrotype | daguerreotype | salt paper print
    Monday, October 21, 2013 3:07:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]