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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, October 28, 2013
Photo Reunions after Hurricane Sandy
Posted by Maureen

A year ago, Hurricane Sandy stormed into the East Coast of the United States destroying property and taking lives. Generations of family photographs were blown or washed out of destroyed and damaged houses. In the midst of the aftermath and chaos, one woman began focusing on images she found scattered along the shoreline and roads of her community of Union Beach, NJ.

Jeannette von Houten found thousands of images scattered all over the place covered in mud and mold. This rescue effort took time and money. Personal historian Mary Danielsen pitched in to help and the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Co. provided scanners.

A conservator colleague of mine suggested the team wear gloves for handling the very dirty images and masks to prevent them from inhaling chemicals and mold. Instead of distilled water, cold tap water sufficed to wash the images. This is a delicate task. Immersion in water could destroy the pictures, but with the damage they'd already experienced due to exposure to the elements and water-borne debris, it was worth the risk. Do not attempt this type of rescue without professional advice.

Today, Jeannette and her cousin Joseph Larnaitis continue the task. Out of the approximately 25,000 images found, about 5,000 have been saved. Anyone who lost pictures during the storm should consult the project website, Union Beach Memories.

union beach.jpg

Not all of the photos are online. The Union Beach Library has 60 binders of images waiting to be claimed.

According to Jeannette, many families are just finding out about this photo rescue. Let's help her reconnect families with their photos by spreading the word.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:
  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Hurricane Sandy | Photo-sharing sites | preserving photos | Reunions
    Monday, October 28, 2013 2:43:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, October 21, 2013
    Clues in an Old Photo Copy: Who Is She?
    Posted by Maureen

    Two weeks ago I wrote about Shirley Dunkle's image, a copy of an earlier photo. The clues added up to suggest the photo was copied about 1900, but that this woman in the image sat for the original portrait in the mid 1850s.

    Dunkle - Moores family - About 1860.jpg

    Shirley has a possible identification for this woman based on the date: She young woman could be Mary Jane Smethurst. She was born May 24, 1839, in Middleton, Lancashire, England. She married James Roberts March 31, 1861, in St. Mark's, Dukinfeld, Cheshire, England. 

    After the death of her husband in 1885, Mary Jane and many of her children immigrated to Massachusetts in 1888. She died in 1916.

    If this is Mary Jane,she was approximately 17 years of age and living in England when she sat for this portrait.

    I have one last question. What type of photograph was the original?

    In the United States, photographs taken in the mid-1850s were primarily daguerreotypes. These are shiny and reflective, and quite distinctive in their appearance. But when I looked at photographs at the Who Do You Think You Are Live show in London, it was quite apparent that the English didn't embrace the daguerreotype. 

    William Henry Fox Talbot, an English photographic inventor, introduced a type of paper print that was popular in the 1850s: the salted paper print, produced from paper negatives.

    Frederick Archer invented photographs on glass in 1851. His ambrotype process competed with both the salt paper print and the daguerreotype. The Ambrotype didn't become popular in the United States until the mid-1850s. 

    Shirley's family no longer owns the original photograph. I'm hoping another of Mary Jane's descendants still does and can shed some light on just what type of picture their ancestor posed for.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1850s photos | ambrotype | daguerreotype | salt paper print
    Monday, October 21, 2013 3:07:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, October 13, 2013
    Spotting a Copy of an Old Family Photo: Part 2
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week, I discussed photographic copies. It's a big topic. I used Shirley Dunkle's photo as an example. In the case of her photo, it was the context and the costume of the image that clued me into it being a copy.

    I've received several questions about the topic this week, so I'm going to delay discussing the identity of the woman in Shirley's photo until next week to focus more on copies.

    So, how can you spot a copy? Sometimes it's a little thing and other times it's pretty obvious.

    Here's a photo from my research collection:
     
    copy1.jpg 

    It's a little fellow from the mid-19th century. Can you see the scalloped mat visible in this copy? The original in this case was a daguerreotype.  The reflective nature of a daguerreotype made it difficult to photograph.  It's a great example of an obvious copy. The rest of the evidence in the image added to the identification of it not being an original.

    copy2.jpg
    The copy is a real-photo postcard of the type that dates to the early 20th century. Real-photo postcards are introduced circa 1900. Someone (perhaps the little boy all grown up) wrote on the card that the original image was taken 52 years in the past. Too bad there are no other identifiers on the card, like a name, date or location.

    There were photographic copies in the early days of photography as well. The only way to make an identical daguerreotype was to either duplicate the pose or make a copy of the original.

    Photographers' imprints often include a statement about their ability to provide copies. Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, paper prints and tintypes were all copied in photo studios when an owner needed another one.

    One person asked about remounting of pictures. Theoretically it's possible to remount an older image on newer card stock, but I've never seen an example of this from the 19th century. It was far easier for a photographer to re-photograph the original.

    I'm still working on Shirley's mystery. She's added another image to the mix. Tune in next week!
     


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1850s photos | daguerreotype
    Sunday, October 13, 2013 11:43:51 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, October 06, 2013
    Spotting a Copy
    Posted by Maureen

    Here's a pretty typical family scenario: Mom and Dad have their picture taken in the early 1850s. Years later each of their five children wants a copy, so someone takes the original picture to the photo studio to have paper prints made. Each of those children pass that paper copy down to their children and so on until today. What happened to the original?  Generally the answer is, "Who knows?"

    Shirley Dunkle showed me this photo at a recent meeting of the Falmouth (Mass.) Genealogical Society. Shirley is a descendant of the woman in this photo.

    Dunkle2- Moores family - About 1860.jpg
     
    I knew immediately that this paper print is a copy of an earlier image. The woman is wearing a dress and hairstyle that was very fashionable for 1856-58:
    • Pagoda sleeves that bell out at the elbow with white undersleeves.
    • Straight trim on the sleeves and bodice.
    • Wide fringed bretelles that meet in a point at the waist.
    • Ribbons in her hair that show behind her collar.
    • She wears her hair behind her ears with small drop earrings.

    Dunkle 3- Moores family - About 1860.jpg

    I personally love the hand-crocheted lace collar at her neck, accessorized with a brooch. A necklace of shell or glass beads also accents her neck.

    Shirley's unknown ancestor is a young woman, likely less than 20 years of age. Estimating an age can narrow down the possibilities on her family tree.

    While the clothing definitely points to the 1850s, it was the context of the photo that identified it as a copy of an earlier photo.

    Dunkle - Moores family - About 1860.jpg

    Heavy gray cardstock wasn't available in photo studios of the 1850s. It's a copy likely made around 1900.  

    I'll tackle this triple mystery next week:

    • Who made the copy?
    • Who's the young woman?
    • What type of photo was the original?

    Unfortunately, Shirley doesn't know who owns the original picture.


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

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1850s photos | hairstyles | jewelry | women
    Sunday, October 06, 2013 6:47:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]