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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, January 26, 2009
Pets in Pictures
Posted by Maureen

For weeks the media have been focused on which breed of dog our new First Family would pick for their family pet. Turns out only two presidents have never had pets in the White House. 

You can read all about famous presidential pets in this article on the Mental Floss blog, from Calvin Coolidge's pygmy hippo (no joke!) to Franklin Roosevelt's adorable terrier named Fala.

I'm bringing this series of pet photos to an end with these final three pictures. The two previous installments can be viewed on this blog: An Album of Ancestor's Pets and Pet Photos: Our Ancestor's Loved Their Dogs Too.

Carol Norwood sent in one of her favorite family pictures. It was taken in Gottingen, Germany in 1892 and shows the Agricola family. Agnes Agricola and Hermann Simon (Carol's great-grandparents) are seated in the center of the front row.

pet1892Agricolas01 (2).jpg

Claudia submitted a picture of her mother tending geese. She told me that her mother always said they would chase and bite her. She estimates this picture was taken circa 1933-1935.

petpicturesbyclaudia 301.jpg

One other reader sent an image for posting here. It depicts her grandfather's older sister Margaretha Petersen, known to the family as Maggie, with their pet dog. The dog's name wasn't recorded. Maggie was born in 1888.  According to the submission, Maggie was the family "pet" herself, the only daughter until her sister was born in 1899.

The red discoloration is due to dye transferring from a paper sleeve to the image.

maggiecirca1892.jpg

Anyone have a clue about the breed of this last dog?

Thank you for sharing all these pictures.


1890s photos | 1930s photos | children | men | Pets
Monday, January 26, 2009 7:07:59 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, January 19, 2009
An Album of Ancestors' Family Pets
Posted by Maureen

Thank you to everyone who sent a photo of a pet in the family! This week, I'd like to share what was e-mailed to me. I'm so glad that each picture came with a story, too. This was a lot of fun!

Jim Musso wrote "First, this is my mom with her family's pet pig, Spud. Mom grew up on a farm in Sheboygan, Wis.; she was born in 1925, so this photo must be from the early 1930s."

spud.jpg

He continued, "according to Mom, Spud would only eat from the hands of family members, and preferred standing on a chair with his front hooves while being fed. She recalls Spud walking under the kitchen table and carrying the table on his back as he walked away. My grandparents, Vincent and Hattie Fee, obviously liked animals.

In the foreground is the family's dog, Jigs, no doubt waiting for a morsel to fall his way. Jigs preferred travelling in a wheelbarrow, as can be seen in the second photo."

jigs.jpg

Bethany Klus wrote that the photo below is "a cabinet card-style photo from an album of photos taken in Alpena, Michigan from the late 1800s. Most of the photos are unlabeled, including the one I'm sending to you. The dog in my photo could be siblings with the one in the blog photo, they look that similar."

klusdog2.jpg

I have to agree that it definitely is a Terrier, possibly a Cairn Terrier although they tend to have darker fur (I'm a veterinarian when I'm not a genealogist!).

"The second photo," she added, "is my great-grandfather Royal Frederick Flock who was born in 1892 in Edenville, Mich. It was probably taken in the early 1920s when he lived in Detroit. With him is the pet cat."

kluscat2.jpg

Not all the pet pictures submitted show a real, live pet. Kathy Amoroso wrote that the photo below is, "my grandmother and her family. She's the one on the fake pig. They are in Germany in 1913 and this is from one of those postcard photos."

1913_wahl.jpg

I'll be back next column with a couple more!


children | group photos | men | Pets
Monday, January 19, 2009 4:46:12 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Pet Photos: Our Ancestors Loved Their Dogs, Too!
Posted by Maureen

This photo belongs to Lorie Zirbes. On the back is a simple caption, “Maude’s dog.” That signifies this charming pooch belonged to her great-aunt Maude Houser, who never had children. Houser married twice, was widowed young and died in 1902, when she was only 22.

Lorie asked, “Was it unusual to take a dog to a studio to be photographed?” The answer is no. The desire to have a lasting remembrance of the family pet is nothing new. It dates back all the way to the daguerreotypes of the early 1840s.

In the early 20th century, around the time Houser took her pooch to the studio, photographic magazines frequently published articles on how to photograph dogs.

For instance, photographer George Oliver advised studio owners that “in certain sporting or training districts the photographing of animals should prove as important an adjunct to the business as does the photographing of students in some college towns.”

Oliver spoke of his own business, “For a long time I have made quite a specialty of dogs, being rather fortunately situated in a district where there are not only many bird dogs, but where, in addition, many lady summer visitors bring their pet dogs." He added, "In studio work of the first class I find ladies the easiest to take, but the hardest to please."

Oliver’s technique for photographing dogs with their owners was to use a noiseless shutter, and enough light to reduce the exposure to a fraction of a second. For pet portraits without owners, he posed the dog on a table and used a treat to get it to stay still. This is likely the method used for the photo of Houser’s dog. It's alert, with mouth open and tongue out waiting for its reward.

Any photographer who wants to photograph a dog should follow Oliver’s advice, “Right here let me say that it is no use trying to photograph dogs unless you were born a friend of them. If you think that dogs are just ugly brutes, you will have about as much success as a surly misanthrope would have if he tried to photograph children—dogs know.”

You can read the rest of Oliver’s article “Photographing Dogs” in Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (volume L), 1913. It’s full of interesting tips that are still useful today.

A small volume, The Dog Album: Studio Portraits of Dogs and Their People (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $14.95) by Gary E. Eichhorn and Scott B. Jones is a fun collection of 19th century pictures of folks and their dogs. The authors say it’s difficult to tell the breed of dog in old photos due to the more generalized categories of dogs at teh time, rather than the specialized breeds common today. The American Kennel Club only dates back to 1884.

Anyone want to guess on the breed of dog in this picture? Post in the Comments section.

Do you have a picture of an ancestor's pet? E-mail it to me. I’d love to see it and feature it here next week. I think it’s too bad no one in the family included the name of Houser’s dog in the note on the back of the photo.


Pets
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 4:22:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Monday, January 05, 2009
Join in the Dialogue: Organizing Photos
Posted by Maureen

There were several comments to my last week's posting on scanning and organizing pictures.

Miriam Robbin Midkiff, who writes a blog called AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors, also hosts Scanfest, a monthly online scanning session held the last Sunday of every month. She's invited all of you and your friends to attend. Miriam can send you instructions on how to join in on the chat session to keep life interesting while placing photos on a scanner. Learn more about Scanfest on her blog. Mark your calendar for the next Scanfest, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. PCT on Jan. 25. If I can get my Windows Live Messenger to work, I'll be there.

A reader pointed out that you can digitally tag pictures using the free program called Fototagger. I'm a huge fan. Try it and see why.

Another person inquired about using adhesive labels on the backs of photos. I don't advocate using any adhesives on pictures. As a former archivist, I've seen the long-term damage.

Instead, I'd suggest placing the photo in a non-PVC sleeve of a similar size and including a same-size sheet of acid- and lignin-free cardstock. You can put the label on that paper, rather than the back of the picture. I've purchased non-PVC sleeves from a number of vendors (run a Google search on archival supplies).

Thank you, Linda! She wrote a long comment about ways to use the free photo-organizing software Picasa, and how she "files" her pictures on her computer. It's full of great tips.

As always Kathryn, thank you for being a fan. Of course you can post a link to last week's photo-organizing post in the California Genealogical Society's e-newsletter. Can you include a link in the comment section of this posting to share the other tips in the newsletter?

I actually took two weeks off this holiday season! Of course I did some photo- related activities. For readers who live in the Washington, DC, area, check out the exhibit of photographic jewelry at the National Portrait Gallery. It's called Tokens of Affection and Regard: Photographic Jewelry and Its Makers, and it's fantastic. There's also an exhibit on photographs of Abraham Lincoln and online exhibition links on the Web site.


photo-research tips | preserving photos
Monday, January 05, 2009 6:06:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, January 01, 2009
Finally Organize Your Pictures
Posted by Maureen

Regular readers of this column know that I'm not fond of making resolutions for the New Year, but I might make an exception this year.  Last January 1st, I set out to find family photographs to expand my personal archive. Now I'm faced with picture overload.  Sound familiar?  It doesn't matter if you have one small album or a closet full of pictures, the time to start organizing is now.

1. Retain the original order of the pictures.  If you've received a box from Great Uncle Harry and one from Aunt Minnie, don't mix them together. You could unknowingly blend two different branches of the family and ruin your chances for identifying some unidentified images.

2. Instead scan all the pictures. It's inexpensive and quick.  If you don't already own a scanner, purchase a dedicated scanner that can also scan negatives and slides. You can buy an Epson flatbed scanner for around a hundred dollars.

3. Download photo organizing software such as Google's Picasa. I've been using it for years and love it's features. Keyword your photos to make searching easier. Picasa actually searches your hard drive for images. Organizing your pictures with digital images enables you to sort pictures by donor, person's name or occasion.

4. Label each picture! Use a soft lead pencil to add names, dates and details to the back of paper based photos. For modern resin coated images, use a scrapbook pen such as a black Zig marker. These are available at art supply stores and scrapbook outlets. You can use your Picasa program to add labels to digital images.

5. Don't forget the digital images.  Sure, Picasa will help you organize all your digital images, but remember to print out significant images. Backup your files on a regular basis using a portable hard drive so that your digital archive is safe if your hard drive malfunctions.

This short article is just an overview of organizational tips. It'll get you started. Throughout this year, I'll feature other techniques for organizing and preserving your photos.  Happy New Year!


preserving photos
Thursday, January 01, 2009 3:29:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]