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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, October 26, 2009
Photo Sites: Read the Fine Print
Posted by Maureen

Yesterday's New York Times featured an article, Guardians Of Their Smiles, on the uses and abuses of photo sites. In it, a woman had posted baby pictures to Flickr without using the privacy settings, and later discovered that someone had used her daughter's pictures on a social networking site in Brazil. 

The article mentioned several other examples, including a father who posted a video of a school play on a video site. Parents of the other kids complained and demanded he take it down.

So here's the question: "How do you safeguard your online photo identity?"
  • Start by reading the fine print before clicking the "I Agree" box for any website. You might be allowing others to copy and use your family photographs. Sure, sites like the Library of Congress use Flickr to promote their photo collections, but those images are in the public domain.

  • Use privacy settings. You can disable those public features on popular sites by finding their privacy controls and activating them. On YouTube, you can privately share videos or prevent downloading/sharing online.

  • If you want to publish photos of an event, either have folks sign a model release that states how and where you'll publish those images, or don't show faces. A few months ago, I gave a workshop for kids and I really wanted to show off their genealogy artwork in my e-newsletter. Since I didn't want to use their faces, I had the kids hold up their projects in front of their faces. I used the picture, but didn't name the kids. Basically, don't use images without permission.

  • Watch for right-click copying. You can copy all kinds of things on the web by right-clicking with your mouse (control-clicking on a Mac). Should you? No. It's a ethical thing. I use a photo site that allows me to turn off the right-click option. Family members can order prints if they want to, but not copy the images. You also can put a watermark on images to discourage usage. It's an option in many types of photo editing software, that's what many photo stock houses do.

  • Don't put high-resolution images online. For online use, you don't need to use an image at more than 72 dpi. This doesn't prevent online copying, but at that resolution, print quality is awful.
The New York Times article was a cautionary tale for anyone posting images online.  You can sound off in the comment section below or on the Photo Detective Forum.


photo news | Photo-sharing sites
Monday, October 26, 2009 1:47:12 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, October 19, 2009
Which Generation is it?
Posted by Maureen

There are photos that just drive you CRAZY. Ronald E. Wade is a very dedicated genealogist, but this image has him confused. His relative Mary Beulah Petty gave him all her pictures and that's great. Ronald has a fantastic picture history of his family thanks to her, but there's one problem—this picture:

StinsonsSmaller (2).JPG

It's a lovely picture of a couple in their later years posed with canes in hand. He's rumpled but she's neat and tidy. It's just a gorgeous photo. The question is, who is it??

Let's start with the provenance, ie., the history of ownership of the pictures. This is actually where it gets confusing:
  • Mary Beulah Petty inherited her photographs from her mother, Texie Ann Busby (1861-1918). 
  • Texie received the photos from her mother, Matilda Stinson Busby (1831-1903).
  • Matilda got them from her mother, Mary Polly Robertson Stinson (1789-1833), or so the story goes. 
Do you see the problem?

First, photography isn't available until 1839, years after Mary Polly dies, and paper photographs aren't widely available until at least 1859.

Here's the other issue: This photograph dates from circa 1900. This estimate is based on the style of the picture, the photographer's imprint and the clothing. Yet, family members dated this picture to the 1850s. 

If these folks were in their 70s in this photo, then they were born about 1830. Seems like a neat solution—it's Matilda Stinson Busby and her second husband, John Busby (1822-1907), right? Possibly wrong. Ronald Wade has pictures of Matilda and John, and these folks don't resemble them.

While Mary Beulah called these folks Grandma and Grandpa Stinson, she claimed that they were Mary Polly Stinson and her husband, Alexander, the couple who died years before photographs were available. Mary claimed her mother, Texie, also thought this image depicted Mary Polly and Alexander. Ronald can't imagine Texie's mom misidentifying her own parents. 

On the back, someone wrote Matilda Stinson—why not Busby?  It's a real tangled mess of family history, family folklore and photographic facts.

Ronald knows that only a few of the Stinsons moved to Arkansas, which should narrow the field of possibilities. He's been collecting family pictures for decades and even wrote a genealogy. I told him I'd present his case here and see what turns up. Now's he's considering that maybe this photo comes from the Robertson side of the family.

The facts are clear:
  • The picture was taken about 1900
  • It's not Mary Polly and Alexander
  • The couple is at least 70, which suggest birth dates in the 1830s period.
I love their expressions. It's a family history treasure!


1900-1910 photos | men | women
Monday, October 19, 2009 6:40:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, October 12, 2009
Texas Trouble: Readers Respond
Posted by Maureen

It's been three weeks since the first post on the photos of two Texas men with mysterious decorations on their shirts. In the second column, I really didn't have much to add, but since then, readers have sent in their suggestions/comments.

Here's the latest news.

092109img041 (5).jpg092109img038 (3).jpg

The Smith County Historical Society couldn't find anything relevant in their archives, but the staff members will keep their eyes peeled just in case something shows up. I really appreciate their help.

Kim Lawonn and a couple of other folks wrote to me with a suggestion, "Could the men be wearing early Western-style shirts?" It's possible. In the 1860s, most shirts lacked collars and closed with the double-butto,n as seen here. I'm looking for proof.

Beni Downing sent me a long e-mail outlining her thoughts. She's an avid needleworker. Beni wants me to consider that the shirts were made for a special occasion, such as a wedding, and to think about a Central European origin. I'm intrigued by the first suggestion.  As far as I know, Peggy Batchelor Hamlett doesn't have any central European ancestry.

Beni wishes she could see the shirts more closely. I second that desire!  Here are close-ups for further inspection.

092109img0413.jpg
Above is a close-up of the design from the left-hand photo.

092109img0383.jpg
Here's the pattern from the right hand photo.

Both Kim and Beni's suggestions have merit. These elaborate designs are similar to patterns seen in needlework. The eight-pointed star is a common quilt design. 

Beni's suggested I have my genealogist/needlework hobbyists check needlework pattern books for matches. Good idea! Beni has already looked in her books on Scandinavian designs.

I really think we're getting closer to solving this one.  I'll be in touch with Peggy to see if there's any family information to help. 

Thank you for all your help!


1860s photos
Monday, October 12, 2009 5:11:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, October 05, 2009
Snapshot of the Past: 1937
Posted by Maureen

Does a single snapshot tell a story?  I think it does.  Take for instance this glimpse of circa 1937. 

100509Spencer Brothers 1937 (3).jpg

Cynthia Wilson sent in this picture of two of her uncles with an unidentified man in overalls. She wants to know if the man in the middle is an actor?

The two brothers worked as Pullman Porters and sometimes traveled together. Here the brother on the left wears a double-breasted suit with a notched lapel, a silk tie and a high-crowned fedora style hat. In his hand is an ice cold bottle of Coca-Cola recently purchased from the cooler behind him. The brother on the right wears a single breasted suit with a silk tucked into the breast jacket pocket and a high crowned fedora. He looks at the camera while the other man's attention is caught by something in the distance. While I know their names, I won't mention them because the image is a mid-twentieth century photograph.

Between them stands the man in overalls with the word Atlantic stitched on it. His attire signifies that he works/owns the station, not that he's an actor. It's a coincidence that his rugged appearance resembles movie stars of the 1930s. In the 1930s gas companies supplied service stations with overalls emblazoned with the name of their company and a cap. A clean and neat appearance was the sign of a reputable establishment thus the man's clean white shirt and silk tie.

These men aren't dressed for a special occasion. This is a snapshot of not just a moment but an era!

A photography studio name appears on the back of the image along with the date the image was printed, November 9, 1937.  100509Back of Spencer Brothers 1937 (3).jpg

Also on the back is a stamp for Nutone photo paper and a number, 147. A big thank you to Pam Young of the Virginia Collection at the Roanoke Public Library for researching company names in their phone book collection. She found that the Roanoke Photo Finishing Company, was located at 105 1/2 Campbell Ave., in Roanoke, Virginia. The 147 is a bit of a mystery. It could refer to the number of images processed by the company.

We tried to locate a Roanoke gas station that sold both Capital and White Flash gasoline, but didn't have any luck. It's quite possible that Cynthia's uncle's had their picture taken elsewhere. Unfortunately the reflection in the window to the right, doesn't offer any clues to location. Atlantic White Flash gasoline and Capitol gasoline were also sold outside of Virginia. 

The next time you go to "the pumps" compare what you see to this image. You can still buy a soda at most stations, but the appearance of the pumps is different. No more gauges and glass globes advertising the type of gas.  There are a lot of other details in this image from the "contains lead" sign on the White Flash pump to the first aid symbol in the window and the cans of oil stacked in the window. 


1930s photos
Monday, October 05, 2009 8:35:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [5]