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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, July 06, 2014
Old Family Photos on Cloth
Posted by Maureen

Jeff Fee wrote and asked if I'd ever seen a photograph like this before—it's on silk. 

The answer is yes. I actually own one, of my paternal grandmother. Based on my grandmother's birth year of 1892 and her approximate age in the photo, it was made circa 1910. It's a head and shoulders view of her in a gorgeous dress. 

The picture Jeff submitted is a full view of a man in work clothes:

FeeSilk .jpg

Photographs on silk debuted in 1879, when a silk manufacturer in Lyon, France, coated silk with light-sensitive salts of silver. According to the Oregon State Journal dated January 18, 1879, the firm displayed various sized silk pictures including copies of "old master" paintings.

Photographic fads took many forms from those little gem tintypes no larger than a thumbnail (thus giving them a nickname) to these lovely images on cloth. You're probably familiar with photographs on metal (daguerreotypes and tintypes), glass ambrotypes and of course, paper-based prints. Photo chemicals applied to a variety of surfaces could result in an image. For instance, I own a set of china teacups with a little girl's picture on them.  In Jeff's case, his photo is on a piece of silk.

Jeff has questions relating to his picture:
  • Who's depicted?  The man is Jeff's great grandfather, John Henry Ruble (1863-1940) He lived in Wood County, West Virginia before moving to Haydenville, Ohio in the 1920s.
His work clothes could date from the late  19th century to the early 20th. He wears a collared work shirt, rolled-up jeans and a hat to shield his face from the sun
If you examine the left side of the picture, there seems to be someone standing there. This suggests that this picture is a copy of a section of a larger photograph.  It's possible that this is a work photo where he stood with several co-workers.  he worked at a sawmill circa 1900.
  • Why was it made? It's 5 inches by 14 inches in size—not a standard size for a picture. It's difficult to know why this image was copied. Jeff surmised that perhaps it was for the man's funeral. That's possible. It's also possible it was made as a 25th anniversary present in 1913 
  • When was it made? Images on silk were commonly available in the early 20th century, which is likely when this photograph was produced. 
  • Who made it? Many of Jeff's relatives frequented Loomis Photographers in Parkersburg, West Virginia.  It's possible the studio advertised this photographic method in newspapers or a city directory. A local historical society may have other examples of this type of picture.

Jeff's image already has started to fade. If this is an important part of his family heritage, it would be worth seeking out a professional photo conservator with experience working with images on cloth to see if the fading can be stabilized. An online directory of conservators is on the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.


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 | occupational | preserving photos | unusual surfaces
    Sunday, July 06, 2014 3:33:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 29, 2014
    World War I Women
    Posted by Maureen

    June 28 is recognized as the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which triggered beginning of World War I a month later. The United States didn't formally enter the war until April 6, 1917.

    womens land army.jpg

    When men enlisted in the service and left their jobs, women stepped in to take their places.

    The Women's Land Army formed in 1917 so that women could fill the agricultural jobs vacated by men. This poster was for a training school that prepared women for work as farmerettes. It shows women wearing shawl- collared dresses with pants underneath.  On their legs and feet are leggings and footwear similar to what their menfolk wore in uniform.

    Women participated in the war by serving in the Red Cross overseas, by filling clerical positions, working in the fields and acting as recruiters. In family photo collections are black paper photo albums that document these women's lives. 

    I've seen images of women in the Red Cross but not these farmerettes.  If you have one, I'd love to see it—click here to email me. I did a Google Image search and found great photos of women and girls being farmers including this one of Girl Scouts harvesting crops.

    The Women's Land Army lasted until 1921 and was re-established during World War II.

    According to Wikipedia, women who participated lived primarily in the West and Northeast, and many were college educated, because their colleges and universities formed groups. Many of these women also supported the suffrage movement.

    The fashion effects of World War I were felt in the United States long before the Americans went to Europe and changed the way men and women dressed.
    • military-styled clothing became fashionable.
    • large oversize coats like those worn by soldiers were commonly seen.
    • sailor-style and shawl-collared dresses and shirts for women can date a photo to this time frame. 
    • By the end of the war, women began cutting their hair shorter causing angst among the male population. 

    This centennial of the start of World War I is a great time to research your WWI ancestors. See our WWI research guides for soldiers and women in the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine.
     


    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
    Sunday, June 29, 2014 5:22:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 22, 2014
    Solving Old Photo Mysteries: Clues in Curls
    Posted by Maureen

    Eunice Amelia Paulk[4].jpg
    Eunice Amelia Paulk (1842-1913)

    Jana Last knows a lot about her ancestor Eunice. She was born in Ohio, lived in Washington, Iowa, and eventually moved to California.  At 19, she was a teacher in common school, a job she likely held until she married in 1876. You can read more about Eunice on Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog. 

    What drew my attention to this photo of Eunice is her curls. There are a lot of photo-identification clues in a simple cluster of curls.

    The light-eyed Eunice knew the current hair fashions. Using Pixlr.com, I created a collage of the whole photo and then pulled out some details to take a closer look.

    eunice collage.jpg

    Top right:  Eunice has very fine hair. She's curled it into wisps that frame her face. A narrow ribbon accessorizes her hair.

    Middle: The long curl is fascinating.  Is it a hairpiece or her actual hair?  Hair pieces (braids, bangs and long curls) were available to women of all economic situations. They were available in various lengths and colors. If a woman couldn't afford a human hair piece, she could get substitutes such as horse hair and yak hair.

    In the late 1860s to the early 1870s, a single long curl draped over the shoulder was very fashionable for young women. Eunice knows the hair fashions of her day.

    Bottom:  While her hair is up-to-date, her clothing is conservative and fitting for a schoolteacher. Narrow, round collars accessorized with a pin first became popular during the Civil War.  She posed for this photograph in either the late 1860s or early 1870s.  By 1870, a new style of collar was paired with those long curls: It was a stand-up collar with an open neck and a ruffle.

    Kracaw's Fine Art Gallery took this portrait. According to Carl Mautz, Biographies of Western Photographers (Carl Mautz Publishing, 1997) Kracaw's Fine Art Gallery was in business in Washington, Iowa, from 1868-1875.

    hairstyles.jpg

    You can learn more about old photo clues in all sorts of curls, as well as bangs, beards and buns, in my newly revised and expanded, all color-edition of Hairstyles, 1840-1900. It's currently on sale.



    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 | 1870s photos | hairstyles | women
    Sunday, June 22, 2014 7:08:56 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 15, 2014
    Mapping the Places Your Old Photos Were Taken
    Posted by Maureen

    There are so many layers to a photo identification and interpretation problem. A family photograph is a lot more than just figuring out who's in the image. Each photo tells a story.



    This image of billiard players outside a Mulhall, Okla., pool hall appeared in last week's Photo Detective Blog post, and in the in the May/June issue of Family Tree Magazine.

    In the magazine, I explored occupational clues in their attire. In the blog post, clues in the picture led to a possible identification based on the rivets in one man's chaps.

    This week it's pinpointing the location of the billiard hall. 

    Using the Sanborn Insurance Maps, a ProQuest database that's available through many libraries, I was able to locate where these men stood.

    Sanborn Insurance Maps are a wonderful resource for anyone looking for more information on a particular building.  You can view the building in context of its surroundings, learn about details in the structure such as the location of staircases, elevators and how larger businesses were heated.  Sometimes there is information on the type of building material. Often, the maps tell you what types of businesses operated in a building and sometimes with a specific business name. (Learn more about Sanborn maps and see an example here.)

    These maps are very useful when city directories aren't available for an area or when used in conjunction with city directory information.  The digital Sanborn collection covers the years 1867 to 1970. It's not comprehensive for every city/town or even every block.

    There are several maps for Mulhall in the collection, so narrowing the time frame was the first step.



    The style of the stamp box, combined with the divided design on the back of this photo postcard, dates this card to after 1907. On March 1, 1907, it became legal to include both the address and a message on the back of a postcard.

    The August 1908 Sanborn Map for Mulhall shows that a billiard hall operated at 57 Baty Street.

    mullhall billards.jpg

    According to the 1910 US census, Yeve J. Cox operated a pool hall in town. This map doesn't list the name of the pool hall's owner. It's possible that Cox appears in the photo above.

    There was a surprise on the October 1915 map of the town: The billiard hall was gone, replaced by a moving pictures establishment. At 62-1/2 Baty Street was a photographer's studio. According to Kathryn Stansbury's History of Mulhall, Oklahoma: 100 Yesteryears (Transcript Press, 1988), a  Cunningham's pool hall burned down in 1919. It's unclear if both establishments were the same business.

    This information suggests that the photograph was taken between 1907 and 1915. Given what's known about the men in the picture, it's likely closer to 1907.

    A lot has changed in Mulhall since these men posed for this portrait. Google Maps shows how many of the buildings on Baty are now gone.

    mulhall street view.jpg

    Using a combination of historical maps and modern technology brings a new layer of interpretation to Charlotte Flock's family 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

  • 1900-1910 photos | 1910s photos | occupational | unusual photos
    Sunday, June 15, 2014 1:03:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 08, 2014
    Western Pastimes: Billiards Buddies Follow-Up
    Posted by Maureen

    In the May/June 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine is a photo of six men standing with billiard cues.



    Two of the men are Charlotte Flock's maternal and paternal grandfathers. Instead of a formal portrait, Flock's ancestors posed during a pause in their favorite pastime.

    On the far left is Ira Willard Mayfield (born Feb. 4, 1872)



    Next to him is Flock's paternal grandfather Michael Schmitt (born Sept. 12, 1871)



    Their clothing provides possible clues to their occupations. Mayfield and Schmitt were farmers. The man in the center wears dress pants and a necktie. He could be a storekeeper. 

    The man to the far right appears to be a laborer, while the man with the cigarette wears very clean chinos and a shirt.



    Their identity is currently unknown. But the man in the chaps provides a clue to his name—there are initials on his chaps, J.T.



    A search of the 1910 federal census for Mulhall Twp, Logan County, Okla., turned up a possibility. It's a really small town, so browsing the census returns using HeritageQuest online (a ProQuest database available through many libraries) didn't take very long.

    The only man with the initials J.T. was John Thompson, a grocery store owner.

    Next week I'll share new information about where that billiard hall was located.


    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 | hats | men | occupational
    Sunday, June 08, 2014 2:12:23 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, June 01, 2014
    Costumed Old-Photo Mystery
    Posted by Maureen

    Costumed ancestors in photographs often cause their descendants to wonder about the significance of that head-to-toe attire. Cheryl Jackson has one such mystery.

    jackson2.jpg

    She thinks this man is John Hardy Jackson who lived in the Paragould, Green County, area of Arkansas from approximately 1896 to 1942.

    He's part of a group that posed in American Indian attire in front of a sign for a Webster County Fair. According to Google Maps, Paragould, Ark., is about 200 miles from Webster County, Mo.

    Jackson1.jpg

    While the family thinks they have American Indian heritage, I think these men are dressed up for another reason. They could be members of the Improved Order of Red Men (IORM).

    I wrote about a similarly attired group of men from Cincinnati back in 2011.

    Could Cheryl Jackson's ancestor have been a member of the IORM? It's possible. That might be the root of the family lore relating to American Indian ancestry. A DNA test could help establish whether the family in fact has American Indian heritage.

    It's also possible that these men dressed up for another unspecified event at a fair. The poster in the background could place them in Missouri when the photo was taken, or just be an advertisement for a nearby fair.

    The man in the center with the white headdress and the crossed sticks is the leader of this group. Next week I'll examine another photo of Jackson to see if the two men are the same.


    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

  • fraternal | men | unusual photos
    Sunday, June 01, 2014 6:59:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 25, 2014
    Daughters and Sons-in-law in an 1850s Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    Jim TeVogt owns a copy of this gorgeous image, reported to be three of Horace W. Twichell's daughters and their husbands. A cousin told him that his photo was made from a glass negative in the Twichell family.

    Horace W  Twichelledit daughters  _husbands-Eveline Twichell  Usual Haggerty Devore Irene Jane _Twichell  Will Thomas Cadoo Emeline Twichell  Peter H  _C.jpg

    Could this be:
    • Eveline (born 25 May 1824) married in 1840 to Usual Haggerty Devore (born 1815)
    • Emeline (the twin to Eveline, born 25 May 1824) married in 1844 to Petr H. Conklin (born 1822)
    • Irene Jane (born 1838) married in 1852 to Will Thomas Cadoo (born 1825)?
    There are many questions:
    • What type of image is it, as it was supposedly made from a glass negative?
    • Who's who? Are these the twins with another sister?



    Here's what I see: 
    • All three women wear their hair tight over their ears in the style of the 1840s. It's a very conservative style. The family were Methodist.
    • Each woman Has a flower pinned in the center of the opening of her collar.
    • Wide-necked dresses with short sleeves were still being worn in the early 1850s. Each woman has accessorized her dress with a wide collar tucked at the waist.
    • The center woman wears a wide bow at the waist.  I've seen this in photos of weddings.
       horace twichell daughter.jpg
    • The daughter on the far right wears undersleeves to cover her arms. These tied on the arm above the elbow.

    twichell daughter right.jpg

    Horace Twichell had two other daughters: Harriet (born 1826), who married Daniel Malin in 1845; and Henrietta (born 1831), who married a man named Sulla before 1860. 

    The only sister the family has a positively identified image of is Harriet and her husband, circa 1870. 

    Daniel  Harriet Mallanedit - ca  1870.jpg

    This is not one of the sisters or husbands in the first image. This man has bushy eyebrows and is much older than his wife. There are facial similarities between the sisters, such as the shape of the face and nose. Unfortunately, there are no other images of the other sisters and their families.

    Wedding clues include the presence of the ribbon, the flowers and the similarly dressed women. So who's in the possible wedding image?  It could very well be the twins Emeline and Eveline with their sister Irene Jane in the middle. Irene married Dec. 15, 1852, which is a likely date for the picture. 

    As to the relative's comment about the glass negative, the original for a photo of this era would have been a shiny reflective daguerreotype. Glass negatives weren't available until after 1852, and glass ambrotypes weren't patented until 1854.  Someone in the family may have copied the original and ended up with a glass negative, from which TeVogt's image was made.  



    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 | unusual photos | wedding | women
    Sunday, May 25, 2014 4:34:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 18, 2014
    Cousin Connections Through Old Pictures
    Posted by Diane

    Never underestimate the power of a picture.  A single photo can connect you with a missing piece of evidence, point you in a new direction or help you meet "new" relatives. 

    Last week's picture brought two women closer together and solved a more than 60-year-old mystery.

    Broderickfront.jpg

    Alice Broderick and her cousin Mary Ellen Gillespie arrived at Ellis Island in June 1906.

    At one time the Gillespie relatives were very close, but as often happens, new generations create distance between cousins. Everyone means to keep in touch, but time and circumstances interfere.

    Anne Hanlon has spent years researching her mother's family history. A few years ago, Anne's sister gave her a letter the family found in their mother's belongings when she died in 1949.  It was from a Mary Rupp, signed "your cousin."  Anne didn't know exactly how her mother was connected to Mrs. Rupp.

    Anne periodically Googled the name "Mary Rupp" to see if any new information came to light. One of these searches led her to Maureen Petrilli's Ancestry.com page. She sent Maureen a message.  One query answered family history mysteries for both women.

    MaryEllenGillespie2.jpg
    Mary Ellen Gillespie Donelan Rupp

    Anne, who owns the above photograph of the two women, thought one of the women on the postcard might be Maureen's grandmother. The details in last week's column verified when the picture was taken. There's a striking resemblance between the woman in Maureen's picture of her grandmother and the seated woman in the postcard.

    Maureen's paternal great-grandmother, Mary Rupp, wrote that letter to Anne's mother. No one knows if Mary received a reply from her cousin.

    Mary Ellen Gillespie Rupp's first husband, Michael Joseph Donelan, (Maureen's paternal grandfather) was crushed to death in a mining accident in Pennsylvania in 1921, just four months before Maureen's father was born. Mary became a widow with four children to support and another one on the way. Once she remarried, the family didn't really talk about her first husband.  However, in the letter to her cousin, Mary mentioned that Michael was born in Galway, Ireland, a fact that Maureen didn't know.

    Anne, related to Maureen through Mary's first cousin, sent her newly rediscovered cousin both the letter and the photo. There may yet another connection between Anne and Maureen: Anne's father's brothers married sisters with the same surname as Maureen's grandfather! 

    Online reunions happen everyday. Do you have one to share?


    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-research tips | Reunions
    Sunday, May 18, 2014 4:36:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, May 11, 2014
    Mothers in Old Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Who doesn't own an image of an ancestral mother with her children? It seems like everyone has at least one.
    Broderickfront.jpg

    This week's photo doesn't show a mother. Instead, she's referenced in a note on the back.

    Maureen Petrilli's grandmother Mary Ellen Gillespie arrived at Ellis Island with her cousin Alice Broderick in June 1906. They were headed for Alice's sister Margaret's home in Scranton, Pa. Both women were from Eskeragh, Ireland. 

    On the reverse of the postcard is a message: "Give this to Mrs. Broderick Eskeraugh Dooley So from her daughter"

    It seems pretty clear that a copy of this image was meant to go to either Alice's or Mary Ellen's mother. Both bore the surname of Broderick at this point.

    One of the key ways to date a postcard is to look at the back.

    broderick stamp box.jpg

    Stamp boxes are very important. This one shows the postcard was manufactured by the Kruxo Co.  A quick check of Playle's stamp box website provides information on when this style of stamp box was common. Playle's suggests that this design was used about 1907, providing another piece of evidence that Alice and Mary Ellen posed for this picture around the time they immigrated.

    The term postcard first appeared on privately produced cards in 1901; until that point, they were called private mailing cards. Initially only postcards produced by the US Postal Service could use the term.

    In the early years, real photo postcard printers were prohibited from using divided back cards with separate areas for address and message. That changed March 1, 1907. You can read more about postcard history on Wikipedia.

    This particular card doesn't have a divided back. 

    Many of us have postcards in our family photograph collections that were never sent. Maureen isn't sure if this card was ever sent to Ireland or, if it was, how it ended up back in the United States.


    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
    Sunday, May 11, 2014 3:24:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, May 05, 2014
    Texas Photo Mysteries
    Posted by Diane

    This past weekend I was the featured speaker for the Austin Genealogical Society. There were a lot of folks in the audience who weren't familiar with this Photo Detective blog. The big question was: Have I written about any Texas photo mysteries?  

    The answer is yes! Two. I did a quick search using the search box at the bottom of the left hand column on the blog.  

    Three Women  Man on Fallen Treeedit.jpg

    Back in March, I wrote about Jane Bonney's search for the identity of the women in the photo above, in Stories in the Family Album. Could Bonney's grandmother Grace Wickline be the woman on the far left?



    The mystery of this Texas twosome is still unsolved. Are they Confederate Guerillas?  The story was so intriguing that it was the focus of several columns.

    Two Texas Mysteries
     
    Texas Mystery Puzzle—No News

    Texas Trouble: Readers Respond
     
    Texas Twosome Revisited 

    Love the shirts worn by these two men! 

    Now that the attendees in Texas asked about photo mysteries in their state, I'm curious about mysteries from other states. I think it's time for a state by state directory. Stay tuned!

    I'll be at the National Genealogical Society conference this week. Please stop by booth 521 and say hello.


    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

  • men | unusual clothing
    Monday, May 05, 2014 7:26:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [2]