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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, January 26, 2014
Who's Who in a Photo? Strategies for Finding Out
Posted by Diane

Last week I discussed Karen Perry's unidentified photo



Today I called her to chat about what she's learned about it since she submitted the image last summer.

She told me showed it to a distant relative, who said he recognized the man in the center but couldn't remember his name.

perry3.jpg

Since this relative descends from her paternal grandmother's side of the family, Karen thought maybe these folks were McClures who lived in northwestern Ohio.  

Karen decided to take the picture to her class reunion. The Grover Hill school has a reunion where graduates from all classes gather in one place.  Unfortunately, no one recognized anyone in the picture.

She then tried to upload the photos to an Allen County, Ohio, genealogy page, but doesn't remember which one. The Allen County Genealogy group has a Facebook page that she could join. That's a good next step. She'd then be able to post the photo.

Members of her Stout, McClure, Parker and Stratton families lived all over northwestern Ohio in Allen, Van Wert, Paulding and Hancock counties. The Ohio Genealogical Society is an active group with an annual conference and chapter meetings. Karen could reach out to chapters in those areas and see if they could show the photo at meetings. 

While connecting with someone locally could be helpful in her quest to identify these folks, she could also try posting it on sites such as DeadFred.com and AncientFaces.com. In the description, she can list all the possible surnames and locations.

Her mother identified all the other family pictures except this one. Why didn't she recognize any of these people? That's a big part of this puzzle. Since this photo dates from circa 1920 and there are likely individuals in their 20s in this picture, several of them could have lived long enough for Karen to meet them as a child.

  • Were they distant cousins who didn't remain in contact with Karen's family?
  • Did they live further away and thus weren't part of the larger family circle for gatherings? 

Karen says the man in the middle looks familiar but can't think why he does. It's possible he resembles someone else in the family. She wants to figure out who they are and wished she'd asked her mother more about family history. Her sentiment is a common one.  

Of course, there is no guarantee that these individuals are family. Our ancestors often sent photos of themselves to friends. Until this mystery is solved, she won't know if they are relatives or acquaintances. 


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

  • 1920s photos | Genealogy events | group photos
    Sunday, January 26, 2014 6:40:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, January 19, 2014
    Figuring Out Who's Family in Old Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Do you own one of those photos that nags you with unanswered questions?  Karen Perry does. 

    Perry unidentified1.jpg

    Unlike the rest of the photos in her collection, this lovely family group is completely unidentified. She's asked relatives, but no one knows who they are.

    Mom and Dad are in the center surrounded by their children. Two sons flank their parents with the other son stands center back.  Of course there could be in-laws in the photo, too. 

    Karen wrote that her "close-in" relatives lived in Ohio. More distant relatives lived in Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The problem with photo collections is that they're often a combination of family, friends and neighbors. These individuals might not be direct relatives.

    She thinks the older man looks very familiar and thought he might be one of her famous relatives. They have links to two presidential families, the Harrisons and the McKinleys. She's looked online for pictures of the famous folk, but didn't see any obvious connections.

    Thankfully, Karen supplied full contact information with her submission so I'm calling her this week to see if there are any other clues in the family photo collection that would help with this identification. <smile>

    Right now, I can estimate when the image was taken based on their attire. The round eyeglasses of the man on the left, the loose-fitting dresses of the women and those short hairstyles pinpoint this to circa 1920. 

    perry2.jpg

    Here's a fun Flickr page for you with images of people wearing eyeglasses. Click an image for more information about the photo and the glasses.

    I'm hopeful that Karen will have some other details to share.  Once I've spoken with her I'll share some additional tips on how to share this photo.


    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

  • 1920s photos | group photos | men | women | eyeglasses
    Sunday, January 19, 2014 3:21:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, January 13, 2014
    Puzzling over Black Dresses
    Posted by Maureen

    Rebecca Foster wrote to me: Most of my elder family has passed away, so I am struggling to piece together my family history. I believe this is my third-great-grandmother Mary Ann Fagan.

    fagan2.jpg

    Rebecca initially thought this could be her in 1860s mourning dress, but she's right to doubt her initial assessment. This is an older woman. Mary Anne had a daughter in 1881, so an 1860s date is unlikely.

    She wears a dark dress, but is it black? It's possible the photographer colored only the chair and background, not the dress, making it appear the dress is black. 

    Photographic methods of the 19th century and early 20th century made many colors look black in photos.
    This woman posed around 1900 to 1910. Wicker chairs with curled backs appear in photographs taken in the 1890s and into the first decade of the 20th century (and a bit beyond).

    The dress has full sleeves and a pleated bodice. She could be wearing mourning clothes, but before making that determination, I'd like to learn more about Mary Anne and her family. I'll email Rebecca and see what else she knows.

    The rules for black mourning dress in the 1860s were set by Queen Victoria, and included black fabric without a sheen, black crape covering the face and a total lack of color. However, the rules for mourning varied based on the relationship to the deceased, and not every woman in a black dress is in mourning. 

    Other colors also were popular to show respect for the deceased. There are additional details in Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album.


    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

  • 1860s photos | 1900-1910 photos | mourning photos | women
    Monday, January 13, 2014 5:52:03 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Sunday, January 05, 2014
    Downton Abbey and Your Snapshots
    Posted by Maureen

    downton series 4.jpg

    It's finally here! If you're like me you couldn't wait for the premiere of season 4 of "Downton Abbey."  My husband and I are avid fans of Crawley household happenings.  Last year I wrote about "Downton Abbey" and your family photos.

    Here's another installment of Downton fashions. Season 4 is set in 1922. It's the Jazz Age. When you tune in, watch for clothing trends, then take your family snapshots and see how they compare.

    Political and social changes affected fashion in the 1920s. American Prohibition and the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote influenced what men and women wore. For instance, women shortened their skirts and wore more makeup.

    Americans first listened to commercial radio broadcasts in 1922. Will the folks in the Crawley family follow suit?  Movie stars emerged and going to the pictures was a popular pastime. We'll have to watch and see if the scripts include mention of these innovations.

    There are likely to be a few subtle difference between photos taken in the United States and England. In general the women of 1922 wore the following:
    • dresses with dropped waistlines
    • clothing with a narrower silhouette
    • longer hemlines

    Throughout the 1920s, hemlines and waistlines go down and up. You can find a good overview of average fashion for men, women and children by reading the Sears catalog (digitized on Ancestry.com).  This illustration is from the Spring 1922 catalog.

    sears1922.jpg

    • Gingham was popular for everyday wear
    • Middy blouses were fashionable for young women
    • Galoshes worn with the tops unbuckled gave rise to the term "flapper" due to the sound they made when walking.
    • Men wore striped shirts with white collars.

    I don't expect major changes in the way Violet dresses in the 1920s. There's no way she's going to change her conservative ways. It's up to the younger women in the Crawley household (and Cora's American mother) to wear contemporary fashions.


    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

  • 1920s photos | Downton Abbey | Sears Catalog
    Sunday, January 05, 2014 3:13:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]