Free Updates

Let us tell you when new posts are added!



June, 2017 (4)
May, 2017 (4)
April, 2017 (5)
March, 2017 (4)
February, 2017 (4)
January, 2017 (5)
December, 2016 (4)
November, 2016 (4)
October, 2016 (5)
September, 2016 (4)
August, 2016 (4)
July, 2016 (5)
June, 2016 (4)
May, 2016 (5)
April, 2016 (4)
March, 2016 (4)
February, 2016 (4)
January, 2016 (5)
December, 2015 (4)
November, 2015 (5)
October, 2015 (4)
September, 2015 (4)
August, 2015 (5)
July, 2015 (4)
June, 2015 (5)
May, 2015 (4)
April, 2015 (4)
March, 2015 (5)
February, 2015 (4)
January, 2015 (4)
December, 2014 (4)
November, 2014 (5)
October, 2014 (4)
September, 2014 (5)
August, 2014 (4)
July, 2014 (4)
June, 2014 (5)
May, 2014 (4)
April, 2014 (4)
March, 2014 (5)
February, 2014 (4)
January, 2014 (4)
December, 2013 (5)
November, 2013 (4)
October, 2013 (4)
September, 2013 (5)
August, 2013 (4)
July, 2013 (4)
June, 2013 (5)
May, 2013 (4)
April, 2013 (5)
March, 2013 (4)
February, 2013 (4)
January, 2013 (4)
December, 2012 (5)
November, 2012 (4)
October, 2012 (5)
September, 2012 (4)
August, 2012 (5)
July, 2012 (5)
June, 2012 (4)
May, 2012 (4)
April, 2012 (5)
March, 2012 (4)
February, 2012 (4)
January, 2012 (5)
December, 2011 (5)
November, 2011 (4)
October, 2011 (5)
September, 2011 (4)
August, 2011 (5)
July, 2011 (5)
June, 2011 (6)
May, 2011 (7)
April, 2011 (4)
March, 2011 (5)
February, 2011 (3)
January, 2011 (5)
December, 2010 (4)
November, 2010 (5)
October, 2010 (4)
September, 2010 (4)
August, 2010 (5)
July, 2010 (4)
June, 2010 (5)
May, 2010 (4)
April, 2010 (4)
March, 2010 (5)
February, 2010 (4)
January, 2010 (4)
December, 2009 (3)
November, 2009 (5)
October, 2009 (4)
September, 2009 (4)
August, 2009 (5)
July, 2009 (4)
June, 2009 (5)
May, 2009 (4)
April, 2009 (5)
March, 2009 (6)
February, 2009 (5)
January, 2009 (5)
December, 2008 (4)
November, 2008 (4)
October, 2008 (6)
September, 2008 (5)
August, 2008 (5)
July, 2008 (4)
June, 2008 (6)
May, 2008 (5)
April, 2008 (5)
March, 2008 (4)
February, 2008 (4)
January, 2008 (5)
December, 2007 (4)
November, 2007 (4)
October, 2007 (6)
September, 2007 (4)
August, 2007 (4)
July, 2007 (5)
June, 2007 (4)
May, 2007 (3)
April, 2007 (2)
March, 2007 (1)



<2017 June>

by Maureen A. Taylor

More Links

# Monday, 31 December 2012
Twelve Months of the Photo Detective
Posted by Maureen

It's time to look back at the year. Every week I write a Photo Detective blog post—that's 52 columns in 12 months. It's a lot of free photographic advice and tips. Here are my month-by-month 2012 favorites.

Last New Year's I offered advice on sharing images online, tackled a photo mystery about the identity of the mother in a picture, and discussed a Scottish picture.

I got into the planning for my trip to WDYTYA Live in London by comparing British and American fashion. 

Hat's off to spring! Last March I featured toppers for men, graduation caps, and talked about the relationships between hairstyles and hat design. If you want to learn more about hats or hair, my books, Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900 and Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900, will help.

The whole month of April focused on identifying photographs of children. Study the clues to add names to those pictures of tykes.

A trip to the National Genealogical Society inspired a series of columns on the Jeffers Family photo.

You can view the entries in the Family Tree Magazine photo contest, study a photo of ancestral blue jeans or be awed by the images of wheat threshing.

With the world watching the Olympics, I deciphered the clues in a picture from the 1908 Olympics.

I revealed the winner of the Family Tree Magazine Photo Contest. That photo mystery now appears in my new book, The Family Photo Detective. It's now available in the store.

Have you considered the relationship between photography and genealogy? I took a look at the types of records that help solve a picture mystery.

This month was all about preservation. A badly damaged image encouraged me to talk about ways to save family pictures. There is more information on storage and labeling images in Preserving Your Family Photographs.

A picture of a giant mechanical grasshopper appeared in my Photo Detective column in Family Tree Magazine, and some readers stepped forward to tell the story of their ancestors' fascination with creating these creatures.

I shared the story of a woman who found a family picture after three decades and explained how old-time photographers could alter pictures long before the development of Photoshop.

Have you ever posed for a multi-generation photo? It's not a new phenomena. Our ancestors did, too. Mary Lutz sent me several images of her family. It turned into a series on identifying who's who in a group picture.

I love snapshots! They are spontaneous and often capture bits of everyday life. Follow this series on a picture of a man standing in his backyard.

Thank you for reading this column and for submitting your family photos. If you'd like to participate, there is a link, "How to Submit Your Photo," in the left-hand margin. I can't wait to see your pictures!

Happy New Year!

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

  • 1860s photos | 1870s photos | 1880s photos | 1890s photos | 1900-1910 photos | 1910s photos | 1920s photos | candid photos | cased images | children | Civil War | group photos | hairstyles | hats | holiday | house/building photos | photo backgrounds | preserving photos | props in photos |
    Monday, 31 December 2012 16:07:01 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, 24 December 2012
    Christmas Trees and Family History
    Posted by Maureen

    Every year I photograph our Christmas Tree. I know I'm not alone. So why do I do it?  It captures a piece of my family history.  A Christmas Tree is a holiday symbol but it's also a family history treasure. 

    Each one of the ornaments on my tree has a memory attached to it. From the yarn ornaments I made for my first tree to the ones passed down from my mother to me. I haven't recorded the history of those ornaments yet, but I should. About a week ago, the New York Times featured a story about a woman who'd collected three thousand ornaments.  They represent her life story.

    In 1900 the Wright brothers--Orville and Wilbur--photographed their family tree.


    This image lets us peek into a turn of the century holiday. The neatly wrapped presents under the tree and a little girls doll in a stroller.

    The ornaments are a mix of hand-made and store bought.  There is no artificial trim visible, instead someone patiently strung popcorn to decorate the boughs.

    As you pack away the ornaments, think about including a note on acid and lignin free paper that tells the history of that item.

    These interior photos also show us how our ancestors lived. The Wright brothers liked bold wallpaper on their walls but also their ceiling.  In the center of the ceiling is a lovely gas chandelier. It's a pretty typical Victorian scene from the decorations on the tree to the style of rug on the floor.

    Before you take down the tree, snap a picture of it so that later generations can see what the holiday was like for your family in 2012.

    Happy Holidays!

    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

  • 1900-1910 photos | preserving photos | props in photos
    Monday, 24 December 2012 14:02:21 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, 17 December 2012
    More on Backyard Snapshots
    Posted by Maureen


    Last week I focused on the details in the background of this backyard snapshot of Francis (Frank) Q. Donnelly. It's a great picture of a man taken in the first half of the 20th century. His relative, Dennis Rodgers, has a lot of information about him.

    Frank Donnelly (1879-1940) was born and died in Washington, DC. He was second generation on his father's side. His mother was born in Ireland.  Census records and his WW I draft registration pinpoint where he lived. He worked as a tinner and later as a steamfitter.

    Known addresses and time frames include:

    1900—486 E. Street SW
    1910—1008 F Street SE
    1918—1116 B Street NE (This is now Constitution Avenue)
    1920—721 3rd Street NE
    1930—721 3rd Street NE

    A quick search of Google Maps for the last address shows a lovely brick townhouse. Wonder if this image was taken in the rear of the building?

    His clothing suggests a time frame circa 1920:
    • a soft collar shirt with a small collar
    • a medium-width tie
    • a jacket with narrow lapels
    • trousers that narrow toward the ankle. (In the 1930s, pants legs were wider.)

    In 1920, a good worsted suit cost approximately $60 from the Sears Roebuck Catalog while a tie cost less than a dollar. For a fun look at men's neckwear, see Roseann Ettinger's 20th Century Neckties Pre-1955 (Schiffer, 1998).

    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

  • 1920s photos | men
    Monday, 17 December 2012 18:32:48 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 09 December 2012
    Backyard Snapshots
    Posted by Maureen

    Studio portraits are lovely and very formal, but to find signs of everyday life, there's nothing like a snapshot. Ever since George Eastman introduced the amateur camera in the late 1880s, our ancestors have taken informal pictures. 

    Dennis Rodgers sent in this picture of a known relative—his great-uncle Francis Q. Donnelly who lived in Washington, D.C. 


    When I see photographs like this, I ask, "Where's the rest of the pictures from the roll of film?" This is just one of the pictures that the unknown photographer would have taken. Perhaps they were given to other family members or even tossed.

    This backyard snapshot shows us details of Donnelly's life (providing this is where he lived).
    • It's a brick row house with high wooden fences separating the yards.
    • There are well-worn paving stones instead of a grass yard.
    • Wooden steps provide an entry through the back door. 
    • Laundry or blankets being aired outside hang out the second-story window.
    • The family dog is off to the right.


    • To the left is a shelf with large cans. A shovel placed near a basement door looks like a small coal shovel.


    These items provide details about Connelly's life in the first half of the 20th century. 

    I'll be back next week to discuss his clothes. In the meantime, what's the oddest thing you've ever seen in a family snapshot?

    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

  • men | occupational | photo backgrounds | props in photos | unusual photos
    Sunday, 09 December 2012 19:32:33 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, 03 December 2012
    Reader-Submitted Multi-Generational Pictures
    Posted by Maureen

    I've been thinking about holiday cards. On Thanksgiving all 14 members of my husband's family—three generations of relatives—stood in the yard and posed for a group portrait. 

    I find the thought of having even more generations represented in a single image amazing. Yet that's just what a reader submitted when I asked for multi-generation pictures.

    Kay Haden sent me two five-generation images from her family. There is no duplication of people in the two pictures.

    In the first, someone used a ballpoint pen to write the names on the people. I wish they'd written on the back with a soft pencil, but there are lots of family photos with inked IDs.

    While the image states a date of 1907, Kay knows that it was actually taken two years later in 1909. This is based on the birth year of the baby.
    The baby is Graydon Earl Comstock (1908-1983). He's sitting on his father's lap—Kenney Marcus Comstock (1887-1958). Kenney's father, James Monroe Comstock (1860-1928), stands behind him. Next to James is his mother, Miranda Jane (Brown) Comstock (1842-1912). The oldest person in the image is the 2x great grandmother of the baby, Rebekah Poindexter (Jones) Brown (1822-1912).

    Five Generations edit.jpg

    In this 1961 image, Kay is the young woman in the back row. Her mother stands next to her. The baby is her oldest son. In the front row is the baby's great-grandmother and his 2x great grandmother. I don't usually publish images of living individuals, so I've withheld their names. 

    There is so much family history in these photos! If you pose for one, please take time to also sit with the family members and reminisce about their lives. Bring along a voice recorder/video capture device so that you can relive the moment later on—as well as save a piece of your family history.

    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

  • 1900-1910 photos | Reunions | women
    Monday, 03 December 2012 00:52:55 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [2]