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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, February 22, 2010
A Success Story: A Graduation Class Identified
Posted by Maureen

Months ago, I wrote a Photo Detective column for the March 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine called "The Graduates." It was about the chance discovery of a photograph stuck behind the lath in a bathroom wall in Sandi Alex's house in Camas, Washington.   This story has a happy ending!
Mott Camas WA Pic (2).jpg
Sandi told an elderly neighbor who'd lived on their street her whole life about the photo. That neighbor thought maybe the picture once belonged to the Mott Family who'd built Sandi's house.

Being a genealogist, Sandi wanted to reunite the picture with a member of that family so she posted a query on genealogy message boards including the Mott surname forum on Ancestry.com. Judy Strong saw that posting and contacted Sandi. Judy's paternal relatives were the Mott's. They'd lived in that house until 1959.

I knew from their attire, props and pose that it was a graduation picture and I worked with Sandi and Judy to try to figure out the names of the students and the teacher.  We also tried to discover why the image was in the house since it didn't appear to feature any of the Mott's. We had a couple of ideas, but nothing definite.

The final identification came from a Family Tree Magazine subscriber. Janet Cosgrove of Yamhill, Oregon wrote to the editors. "Today I received the March 2010 issue in the mail and was flipping thru the pages, when I saw "The Graduates" picture and was shocked to see my maternal grandmother in it."  We were equally surprised. 

Janet not only knew her grandmother, she had a date and the names of the people in the image. Amazing! Her great-uncle had listed all their names on the back of a copy of the original picture.

From left to right are Harold Peterson, Esther Jones, Marie Schrohe, Mabel Nielsen, and Edith Anderson (the teacher).  Janet's maternal grandmother taught this small class at the Constance School in Green Valley, Waupaca, Wisconsin. This is the graduating class of 1915.

It's so interesting when photos are suddenly identified. I wonder if the family living in the house ever missed the picture. It didn't depict any of the Mott's but Janet thought that perhaps Esther Jones was the daughter of the widow Sarah Rodwell Jones that I mentioned in the magazine article. She was related to Mrs. Emma Mott.

This photo is a great story--it's about youth, young love and family. Turns out that the teacher ended up teaching for only two years. She married the older brother of her student Harold Peterson.

Case Closed!


1910s photos | children | group photos
Monday, February 22, 2010 7:09:43 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, February 15, 2010
Friends and Neighbors
Posted by Maureen

A couple of weeks ago, I presented several lectures at the San Luis Obispo Genealogical Society conference.  I had great time and got to look at some interesting pictures. Roma Miller showed me this snapshot.

RomaMillerCaroline.jpg

This was in Roma's box of photos from her step-grandfather's family mixed in with other family photos. On the back it says, "Caroline 1927." But who's Caroline and where was it taken?

Look carefully at this image. See the shadow of the photographer at the bottom? It's a great shot of someone taking a picture of this woman. his or her arms are raised, holding the camera. 

Next look to the right of Caroline—there is a child. This little kid wears overalls and has his head bowed down. The short pants signify a boy, as does the haircut. This "baby cut" was similar to what we'd call a bowl cut—ear-length on the sides and bangs.

Caroline wears a simple daytime dress. She's probably busy taking care of the her child and the housework. The style of this dress makes me wonder if she could be pregnant. It's very loose-fitting. Her hair is one of the short cuts popular in the 1920s. I think it looks a lot like either something called the "Senorita" or the "Broadway."

The house is a two-story dwelling with a bow window in the style of the late 19th century. It's a Victorian-style house with a tall picket fence in the front and a wrought iron gate. In the background, a latticework wall surrounds a doorway with stairs.

Roma and I talked about ways to identify this woman.
  • Ask the owner: The child is about the right age to be her step-grandfather—could this be him and his mother? Nope. He doesn't recognize the woman.
  • Post it online: I'm helping out by featuring it in this column. Roma has also uploaded the picture to DeadFred.com 
  • Contact extended family: Roma sent out a mass e-mail to all her relatives. Success!
A cousin identified the woman and the location. It was a neighbor of Roma's maternal great-aunt when they lived in Oakdale, Calif. A quick check of the 1930 federal census should result in a last name (as long as Caroline remained in the area). Roma may never know who took this picture, but it could be someone related to her great-aunt.

On the surface it's such a simple portrait of a young mother, but when you add in the child, the house and the photographer, it's the beginning of a story and evidence of a friendship between neighbors.

There is one other reason I love this picture. It's a perfect example of how family collections of photos contain more than just blood relatives. There are usually friends and neighbors mixed in as well.


1920s photos | children | house/building photos | women
Monday, February 15, 2010 4:03:53 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, February 08, 2010
The Search for Annie Moore
Posted by Maureen

If you don't know who Annie Moore is, you haven't been following Megan Smolenyak's research on her.  For several years, Megan has been intrigued by her. Annie Moore was the first person to step foot on Ellis Island when it opened Jan. 1, 1892—a pretty significant first. There wasn't much known about her until Megan started digging. 

You know how research can lead to one thing and another? Well, that's what happened with Annie. Before long, Megan found two of Annie's relatives with images purported to show this mysterious woman. They claimed they had seen a photo of her at Ellis Island.

It's a long story. I've featured the research done so far on both Annie and the pictures on my own blog last week. Megan and I have been trying to verify the identity of the image of three children and figure out where it was taken.

There are folks on both sides of this photo problem. Megan and I have to do more research, and we'd love to see the original picture.

Rather than link to all the research in this column, you can view the image and click through the links provided in my blog. It's a complicated piece of photo research.

Comments are graciously accepted! 


1890s photos | children | Immigrant Photos | photo-research tips
Monday, February 08, 2010 7:01:23 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, February 01, 2010
How to Win the Family Photo Lottery
Posted by Maureen

I've lost track of exactly how long I've been writing this column. The first edition of my book Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs was published in 2000, and I started this column in February of the following year. 

That means you've been reading about identifying family photographs for nine years. That's a lot of pictures!

Anyone can submit photos to be featured in this space or in my Photo Detective column in Family Tree Magazine. Under the Navigation heading at the left is a link to How to Submit Your Photo.

While I look at and file each of the e-mails I receive from readers, you can increase the odds that you'll win this picture lottery by doing the following:
  • Use Family Tree Magazine in the subject line of your email.

  • Send me a question about the image, as well as anything at all you know or don't know about it.

  • Your contact information—name, address and telephone number. While I'm not apt to call overseas, if you live in the United States or Canada, don't be surprised to hear me on the other end of the telephone. I like to talk with folks about their pictures. It's amazing how much more can be learned through a conversation rather than an email.  Obviously, I love having unlimited long-distance calling! <smile>

  • In order to really see the details in your pictures, I need them submitted in at least 300 dpi.  If you send them smaller, all I can see when I enlarge a detail is a blur of pixels.
FatherAngelledit.jpg

This isn't too bad, but if I were to enlarge it any further it wouldn't be usable.
  • Don't forget to send me a scan of the back of the photo if it has any information or a photographer's name and address.
If you'd like to submit a picture but you don't have a scanner, it is possible to send a copy of an image via regular mail. You can make a copy using one of those retail photo kiosks.  The mailing instructions are in the link on the left.

One more thing—my e-mail archive goes back several years, so keep checking your e-mail. If you change e-mail addresses or telephone numbers, please resend your image with the new contact information.  A lot of the e-mail inquires I respond to for additional data never get answered by the photo's submitter. 

I love working on your photo mysteries!!  Keep the emails coming in.


photo-research tips
Monday, February 01, 2010 5:21:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]