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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Clues from Hats and Backgrounds
Posted by Maureen

These four are dressed for an evening out. Everyday male attire in this period didn’t include silk top hats and shawl-collared vests, unless you were quite affluent.

Sandra Guynn believes the man in the center of this photo is Charles Anthony Doyle (born 1867), and the women, his daughters (born in 1891 and 1892). She can’t identify the man on the left.



Let’s answer the simple question first—when was it taken?

The women’s hats provide a time frame of 1904 to 1908. Large hats and pouched front bodices gave women a then-fashionable S-shaped figure. (Read more about women’s headgear history in Jonathan Walford’s online article on Vintage Fashion Guild.)

However, this date somewhat disagrees with Guynn’s tentative date. Doyle’s daughters would be young children at the beginning of that time frame and teens by 1908. So let’s look at other evidence:
  • Hindering this investigation is the lack of a photographer’s imprint. Guyunn’s photo is a copy and doesn’t know where the original is. Since a house’s clapboards and window sash are visible, likely this is an amateur snapshot rather than a professional studio photo. Guynn could examine her own and relatives' pictures for a house with similar construction. 
  • Also in the background are two screens. One is a fabric divider commonly found in houses of the era, while on the right is a large divider with attached photographs. They’re blurry, but Guynn should enlarge this photo and try to see if any of the images match other family pictures.

  • One man stares directly into the camera while the women look to our left (probably at another person), and the other man looks in the opposite direction. The man with the top hat is the significant figure based on how they’re posed.
That man is Charles Anthony Doyle, according to Guynn’s tentative identification. He’d be about 40, the right age for this photo. The pose and attire indicate he’s a man of authority. 
The questions remain about the women. Further research using census records could help sort it out.

I’ll be back soon, hopefully with more information and an ID. 


1900-1910 photos | candid photos | group photos | men | photo backgrounds | women
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 9:35:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 21, 2007
FGS Conference Roundup
Posted by Maureen

Last week I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne Indiana and saw lots of folks who told me they regularly read this blog. Thank you!!  The content of this space is determined (in part) by the photos and comments you post to the Photo Detective Forum. Keep the ideas coming!

At my lecture on "Genealogical Clues in Family Photographs", many of the attendees said they posted family photos on DeadFred.com in the hope of reuniting with "lost" family members.  Dead Fred is probably the oldest photo reunion site on the Web.

If you haven't taken a look at what's in that online archive, you might be overlooking a valuable resource. Thousands of people search for family photos every week.

One of the new kids on the block is a site called WeRelate, a collaborative venture with the Allen County Public Library. WeRelate is a wiki, which means anyone can add content and edit pages. Think of it as a type of social networking site for genealogists.

WeRelate lets users to upload gedcom files and  documents. I particularly like the feature that lets you upload and annotate images. You can find out if any members of your family are participating by going to the WeRelate Web site and searching for your family surnames.


organizations | Web sites
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 6:12:50 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, August 13, 2007
Clues Your Old Photo Was Taken in Summer
Posted by Maureen

Here in New England where winters are long, we embrace summer and often carry cameras to capture moments in the sunshine. When you think about  picture-taking patterns in your family, don’t disregard the seasons. This week I’m revisiting some of my older columns to show you how to spot scenes of summer in your family photo collection.

Last year, Judy Miller sent this photo of a family in front of a seashore backdrop, a clue that perhaps the group lived near the shore or visited on holidays. The children's lightweight white dresses indicate warm weather. The mother’s hat actually suggested a season, too—a similar hat appeared in the August 1885 Peterson’s Magazine.



Clothes also indicate a summer get-together in this photo—the women’s dresses look like lawn, a light fabric, while the men shed their jackets and rolled up their sleeves. Counting stars in the flag provided a time frame of 1908 to 1912. (Find out how the stars helped.) Patriotic decorations could show up for events at various times of year, but combined with the summer attire, they suggest this is an Independence Day celebration.



The dresses on the four girls sitting near the railroad tracks in this candid snapshot date it to about 1900. The lush foliage on the trees across the tracks narrows the time of year to summer.



This similar group portrait, also taken by an amateur photographer, is clearly another summer snapshot—you can tell from the white dresses and leaves on the young trees in the background.



Go through your photos to find women and children in white, men and boys in straw boaters (a popular summer accessory) and trees and gardens in full bloom. Add them to the Photo Detective Forum and I'll put together an online album to celebrate the end of the season.

1880s photos | 1900-1910 photos | 1910s photos | photo backgrounds
Monday, August 13, 2007 7:47:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 07, 2007
How to Submit Photos for Free Analysis
Posted by Maureen

Each week, I receive mail from folks hoping I'll feature their photographs in this blog. It's no secret that I love looking at your family photos, but identification is a collaborative effort. The more you can tell me about the picture, the better the odds of our identifying the people in it. A photo attached to an e-mail with the basic query, "Who's in this picture?" is one that's apt to remain a mystery. Here's some helpful things to send in your note:
  • Are there any family stories associated with the picture?
  • If you have a tentative identification, do you know those person's life dates?  That one detail can help me eliminate or confirm the fact within minutes.
  • Who owned it?  Any information about past owners of the picture can help. For instance does your great-uncle Joe remember seeing the photo at his parent's house?
Don't forget to send me your complete contact information, including telephone number.  I can't tell you how many times I write back to someone only to never receive a reply to my e-mail.  If I need to quickly confirm a few facts I might call as a follow-up.

For instructions on the photo's file format (such as JPG or TIF) and resolution, as well as where to send it, see our photo submission guidelines.

Thank you for your help!



Tuesday, August 07, 2007 5:42:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]