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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, March 24, 2008
Baby Photos
Posted by Maureen

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve decided to run another picture of a woman and baby—but this time only part of the woman appears in the picture.

I’ve taken to categorizing images like this as “hidden mothers.” There's no way to say for certain the arm extending into the carriage to brace this child belongs to its mother, but it’s either a cautious mother, a nursemaid or a photographer’s assistant. I vote for the mother.

Before I start dissecting this picture—do you have any images with partial women in them? I’d love to see them and feature them next week. Send them to me.

 

So who’s this darling tot? Gwen Prichard doesn’t know. A genealogical Good Samaritan gave her the album it was in after finding it in an antique trunk in California. Several of the people are identified members of the Godfrey and Locke families who, according to the photographer’s imprint, posed for pictures in Jonesburg, Mo. 

The woman who purchased the trunk wanted family members to have the photo album so she contacted Jonesburg Historical Society who in turn suggested she write to Gwen. It’s one of those odd serendipitous genealogical connections.

Gwen thinks the album belonged to Olive Cornelia (Locke) Smith (born in 1861) based on the identified images. Now she’s trying to figure out who else is represented. This is one of the mystery pictures. There are four photos on a page—this baby, an older child, a man and a woman. They may be the baby’s parents, but before jumping to conclusions let’s date this picture.

  •  While the baby picture doesn’t have a photographer’s imprint the other three were taken in Moberly, Missouri.
  • The light green card stock of this small (4” x 2 ½”) photo was typical in the mid to late 1870s.
  • The toddler wears a white dress with colored sash and a necklace. This child’s attire is also typical for the early to mid-1870s.

These last two details date the picture, but it’s the baby carriage that draws our attention. The first carriage that could be pushed was invented in 1848. Before this, baby carriages were drawn by ponies and other small animals. Newer carriages, like this one, enabled mothers, nursemaids and nannies to stroll with their children. This fringed model looks similar to the horse-drawn surrey carriages used by families in the 1870s. The top would protect the child from the sun. Babies faced front to be admired by passersby.

This particular carriage is well padded with an animal fur lining and a checkerboard knitted blanket. A scalloped edged embroidered cloth decorates the inside. The woman has her hand underneath this cloth supporting the baby allowing us to see the beautiful stitching. You can see other examples of early carriages on the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

While this is a picture puzzle, the date brings Gwen one step closer to figuring out who it might be. This baby (probably a girl because her thin hair in parted in the middle) was born in the mid-1870s.

Anyone interested in helping me narrow the time frame? Check patent records to see if you can match up the design of this carriage. I’ll give you a hint: The leading baby carriage designer in this time frame was Adolph Meinecke. Don't forget you can respond in the Comments field below.


1870s photos | children
Monday, March 24, 2008 3:04:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Polaroid Preservation
Posted by Diane

Two weeks ago I wrote about how Polaroid stopped manufacturing film. In the Comments section to that article, Nancy Owen asked, "Over the years, I've taken a lot of Polaroid pictures. Many of them are not holding up. The edges of the paper on the back are coming unglued. What can I do to preserve my photographs?"

Ahh, Nancy, Polaroid pictures are a bit troublesome. If you've taken these instant pictures and haven't looked at them in a while, it's time to take a peek. These images have a tendency to fade, crack and become unglued. 

The best solution is to scan them, then fix the damage using photo editing software.

Several people wrote to me privately saying how much they liked using their Polaroid cameras. According to an article in Sunday's Boston Globe, Fuji still makes instant film. You can see a selection of their products on the Fuji Web site. And yes, it works in Polaroid cameras!


photo news | preserving photos
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 3:44:53 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 10, 2008
Multi-generational Portraits
Posted by Maureen

There's something special about seeing a grandmother and grandchild posed together in a photograph. This little tyke is the spitting image of her grandma.

031008.jpg

Emma Dempster-Greenbaum owns this picture. It's labeled "Grandmother & Sarah Ann."  The photographer was J.C. Cone and Sons of Farmington.

Emma dated this photo based on family information. At 11 months old, Sarah Ann Jackson immigrated to the United States with her parents in November, 1886.

The clothing details support this time frame. Sarah wears a typical baby dress while her grandmother's conservative pleated skirt and fitted bodice are from the 1880s. Her dress lacks the bustle typically worn by younger women. Her eye-catching hat accessorizes her outfit—it's tied with a wide ribbon at the chin, and the high crown features what looks like leaves and small berries. She holds a handkerchief, ready for a drooling baby.

The photographer also fits the time frame. Emma researched J.C. Cone and found he lived in Farmington, Ill. I double-checked and found Joseph C. Cone in both the 1900 census for Farmington and in a biographical encylopedia, Portrait Biographical Album of Fulton County, Illinois (1890).

There's a bit of bragging in his business name. Cone was 58 in 1900, and his son, 27. When he printed the photographic card bearing this photo, his son was still a teenager just learning his father's business.

It's the grandmother's presence that confuses the picture evidence. While Emma found an immigration record for Sarah Ann and her parents, she's unable to verify that grandmother Catherine Dempster came with them. Catherine was the baby's only living grandmother in the 1880s.

Emma wonders if this picture is a copy of one taken in England. That's possible, but it's also likely his is an original.

So, how old is Sarah Ann in this picture? She's still a baby, based on her short hair and long dress. The length of the dress indicates she's not walking yet—otherwise, the dress would be shorter to accomodate her steps. Since most children's first steps occurring around a year to 15 months of age, Sarah Ann is probably less than a year old here.

Unfortunately, this data doesn't help determine whether the photo was taken in Illinois shortly after arrival, or in England before she left.

I'll be back next week with a follow-up.


1880s photos | children | photographers imprints | women
Monday, March 10, 2008 9:56:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Polaroid News
Posted by Maureen

Another photographic giant is shutting down production on one of its products. In mid-February, Polaroid announced that after this year, it will no longer manufacture film for its cameras. You can listen to the National Public Radio interview live on the web.

Edwin H. Land established the company back in 1937. It offered photographers instant gratification: Take a picture, wait a few minutes and you could see your picture. Now digital has replaced the days of watching the print develop in front of your eyes. Follow the ups and downs of this trend-setting company on Wikipedia.

I guess my husband and I will retire all our Polaroid cameras. My first one was called the "Swinger" because it had a strap to hang from your wrist. It was a lot of fun to use.

Got a question about your Polaroid pictures, submit them to me at mtaylor@taylorandstrong.com or ask them in the comment field below.


photo news
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 3:52:24 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]