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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Wednesday, February 29, 2012
British vs. American: Readers Weigh In
Posted by Maureen

Last week I posted two photos. One was an American and the other a British one.  

meninhat2.jpg
Photo 1


maninhat.jpg
Photo 2

I asked all of you to vote on which one was which. There is no stumping this audience. The majority voted for photo 1 being the American man and photo 2 being the English gent. You're right!

I looked at hundreds of photos in London last week. All this picture analysis confirmed by belief that while women's clothing in America vs. Britain are very similar, the same is not necessarily true for men's clothing.  In England you're more likely to see men wearing specific work clothes. 

In photo 2, several folks mentioned the walking stick (also adapted by upper-class Americans), the cut of his pants and the fabric of his suit.  Looks like a tweed to me too. The background is also key. You're unlikely to see a backdrop like this in an American photo.

The American in photo 1 wears untidy clothes, stands on an oilcloth floor covering and stands in front of a plain wall, with drapery and a post. Notice the wooden photo prop at his feet. This would be clasped around him to hold the man still.

Great job!! Thank you for adding your comments. March is all about hats. See you next week.


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1870s photos | hats | men | photo backgrounds | props in photos
    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1:34:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]
    # Monday, February 20, 2012
    Foreign vs. American Fashion
    Posted by Maureen

    My mind is focused on packing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London.  I'll be at this dynamic trade show for three days and I'll be presenting two lectures—one about online picture research and the other on writing your family memoir.  Can't wait!!

    While I'm in London looking at pictures I thought it would be a good time for a quiz. I've been to WDYTYA three years in a row looking at pictures.   It's been a learning experience.  The number one question folks ask me when I'm there is "what's the difference between American and English fashion?" 

    No, not all Americans dressed in Western style hats. 

    Photographic methods vary just a bit. Daguerreotypes weren't as common in England as America, but early paper photographs were available from 1839 on. The American invention, the tintype, also wasn't as popular in England. 

    Clothing is a little more difficult. The differences can be subtle or dramatic.  Everyday dress is about the same, but occupational dress has several distinctions.

    So...here are two pictures.  Vote in the comment section below and tell me which is a British man and which is American.  I'll weigh in when I return. 

    Photo one
    meninhat2.jpg

    Photo two

    maninhat.jpg

    (If you like these hats you should see the ones in my new Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900. It's available in the ShopFamilyTree store. Click the link below.)

    If you happen to be in London, stop by the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! photo gallery and say hello.

    Thank you for participating in my Silly Old Photo contest on my website. It's not too late to vote.  I've extended the deadline until the day I return.


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Immigrant Photos | men | unusual clothing
    Monday, February 20, 2012 2:03:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [32]
    # Monday, February 13, 2012
    Photographs on Who Do You Think You Are?
    Posted by Maureen

    Every so often, the cameras for Who Do You Think You Are pan across a family photo. Last week, there were two images of Marisa Tomei's ancestors. Instead of being in a family album, they were on a tombstone in Italy.  

    How unusual was the practice of putting photographs on tombstones?

    Not very. In fact, the first US patent for including photographs on headstones dates from March 11, 1851. It was issued to Solon Jenkins, Jr. of West Cambridge, Mass., for "Securing Daguerreotypes on Monumental Stones" (U.S. Patent No. 7,974). You can view the whole patent file on Google through the Patent database.

    If your ancestral headstone once had a daguerreotype it's likely no longer there. Unfortunately, most were pried out of the stones. 

    Jay Ruby's book Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America (MIT Press, 1995) includes a chapter on memorial photography as it pertains to pictures on gravestones.

    If anyone knows of a photographic headstone shown on Findagrave.com, please post the link in the comments below. I'd love to see it.

    You can watch the entire Tomei episode online to catch another glimpse of the 20th century photographic headstones. I just wish the series would linger on the pictures for more than a few seconds. As a reader of this column, you know that a picture can contain a lot of family history information!

    Next week, I leave for London for the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! event. If you're going to be there, stop by the photo gallery on the second floor and say hi. This will be my fourth year there. I'll report on any interesting photo items upon my return. Cheerio!


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • unusual photos | unusual surfaces | Videos
    Monday, February 13, 2012 6:24:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [11]
    # Monday, February 06, 2012
    Digital Photo Preservation Pointers
    Posted by Maureen

    I hope that everyone had fun exploring the sites I mentioned last week!  These sites are a way to share photos and stories, but are not a way to preserve your family photos.  

    If you want to preserve your photos try these tips.
    • Scan at 600 dpi as color images. I prefer the TIF format because it's uncompressed. Don't forget to scan the back, if there is information there such as a caption or photographer's name and address. Scan at 100 percent scale at a minimum.

    • I don't like to use the digital auto-correct feature on my scanner.  I prefer to "fix" any photo issues with a photo editing program. One of my favorites is Picnik.com. It's similar than Photoshop and free.  Unfortunately, you  can't upload TIF files, only JPGs, so you'll have to create a jpeg copy of your scanned image.

    • Back up your digital files on a portable hard drive and/or print significant photos.

    • Preserve your family stories by recording them or writing them down.

    Thank you to Sally Jacobs, the Practical Archivist for pointing out this survey on what online sites do with your digital files.

    I had a great time in Washington, D.C. and found several additional images for my Last Muster project.  The highlight of the trip was visiting the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. I was the only researcher in the department and boy did I take advantage of that to ask questions <smile>. You can view the majority of the collection online


    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • preserving photos
    Monday, February 06, 2012 1:37:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [3]