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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, 29 December 2014
My Favorite Photo Websites of 2014
Posted by Tyler

Happy New Year! Here are some websites that readers and friends told me about in 2014. Add them to your to-do list of sites worth exploring in 2015. 

Edit and Share Photos
Pixlr.com
Not a week goes by that I don't take time to explore new ways to edit and present photographs. You've seen the results in past blog posts such as Clues in Curls.  It's easy to edit images, insert text and create comparative collages. You chose whether to use the full editor, the express for collages and editing or Pixlr O-Matic for photo fun.

Canva.com
Need a little help designing your Facebook cover, your Twitter page, an email header or a holiday card?  You can do all that and more with this easy to use online design shop. If you use a Canva image there is a dollar charge for each.

State-wide Memory Projects
Family photo history seems to be everywhere this year from mega genealogy sites like MyHeritage.com and FamilySearch.org to social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, but there are state-wide collections worth exploring too.

Collaborative sites that bring together organizations in a particular state are a great tool for looking for family photographs. Take the Florida Memory Project, the Kansas Memory Project, the Maine Memory Network and the Ohio Memory site for a test drive by searching for family photos and documents. You'll find more useful websites in my Kindle eBook, State by State Guide to Finding Family Photographs Online and watch for March/April issue of Family Tree Magazine for more family photo rich websites.


Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides 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
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • Photo fun | Web sites
    Monday, 29 December 2014 15:19:44 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 21 December 2014
    More Mystery Photos in an Old Family Album
    Posted by Maureen

    The trouble with women in light colored dresses is identifying the occasion. Not all dresses that appear white in a picture are that color. Many pale shades such as light blue look white in nineteenth century photographs. A woman wearing a "white" dress could be dressed for a wedding, a graduation, a first communion or for a hot summer's day.  It can be confusing.

    This is another picture in Jim Te Vogt's family album.  He wonders if this could be Catherine M. Darcy when she married in 1884.

    While this girl is dressed like a typical bride, this is actually a First Communion photo. 
    • The length of her dress is appropriate for a young girl but not a grown woman.
    • The veil while usually associated with weddings is also worn for First Communions.
    • This image dates to the 1870s based on the rows of ruffles on the skirt, and the style of the jewelry worn.  Heavy looking jewelry was commonplace in that decade. 
    • Take note of the brace behind her feet. This is a photographer's posing device to hold her still.
    • Chairs of this style were commonly seen in photographs in the 1870s.

    Jim researched the New York Gallery of San Francisco that took this image and found it was in business from 1869 to 1887.  

    Catherine M. Darcy could be this girl. She was born in 1863.  Typical age for First Communion was between ten and fourteen years of age. A explanation of the history of this church rite can be found on the Catholic News Agency website.

    There is another possible photo of Catherine in the album.


    O.V. Lange of San Francisco took this photo between 1885 to 1886. The Darcy's were the only relatives known to live in that area. The brown card stock and the dress design support a date of the mid 1880s. 

    Catherine married on November 25, 1884. The brocade dress fabric suggests a winter wedding, rather than a spring event. I wonder if it's possible that Lange's studio was in business as early as November 1884.

    Queen Victoria popularized white wedding dresses, but for most of the nineteenth century ordinary women married in very nice non-white dresses. If this isn't her wedding portrait then it was taken within a year of the event.

    This lovely pair of images documents two major occasions in the Darcy family. 

    Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides 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
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1870s photos | wedding | women
    Sunday, 21 December 2014 14:34:52 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, 15 December 2014
    Mystery Photos in an Old Family Album
    Posted by Diane

    Whenever I see a old photo album, I want to curl up in a cozy chair and read it like a favorite book. That's because every album tells a story based on who put it together, who's included (and who's not!), and when it was laid out.

    One of the keys to "reading" a mysterious photo album is to identify the person on the first page and the next two pages. Generally, they were the most important people to the album's owner.

    This two-part photo mystery involves an album owned by Jim Te Vogt's family in Minnesota. I don't know the layout of the album, but in this case that's not as important as where these images were taken. Eight of the photos were taken by studios in San Francisco. The only Darcy relatives to live in the area were the family of Edward Darcy. So who's in these photos and why were they taken?



    Could this be Hugh Darcy (1858-1902)? Here's how the clues add up:
    • Jim already researched the photography studio, New York Gallery. It operated at 25 Third St. from 1869 to 1887.
    • In the late 1860s and early 1870s, velvet collars and pointed lapels were common for jackets. It's a style that gradually faded out by the latter part of the decade.
    • Beginning in about 1880, men started wearing their hair parted in the center and the era of the full mustache had arrived.
    • There is another clue in this picture. It's the pin on the collar of his vest.

    This is the symbol for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows identifying this man as a member of a fraternal organization. Several years ago, I wrote an article about another Odd Fellows image. The group's slogan, "Friendship, Love, Truth" is represented in the three rings.
    If this image was taken about 1874, then Hugh Darcy would be 16.  This man looks older than that. Since dating fashion can be flexible based on factors such as where a person lived, perhaps it was taken as late as 1880, when Darcy would be 22. The big question is "how old does this man look?" What do you think?  

    Are you looking for family photos? Find tips for locating pictures online and offline in Searching for Family Photos.


    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
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1870s photos | fraternal | men
    Monday, 15 December 2014 15:26:53 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, 08 December 2014
    Holiday Generosity and Christmas Clues in an Old Photo
    Posted by Maureen



    This little gem of a holiday picture comes from the Library of Congress collection. Researching the clues in this picture took a little time and involved studying the caption, the history of the image and the clues in photo. It's a lot more than a holiday-themed image. This one picture tells the story of a family's charity in a very wealthy community. It's the perfect Christmas story.


    This picture is half of a stereograph: two nearly identical photographs mounted side-by-side on cardstock. Viewing it through a stereopticon makes the image appear three-dimensional.

    The best place to start untangling the clues was the caption: "LYNDHURST—A Happy Christmas at "Woody Crest," December 1905. Copyright 1906 by Underwood & Underwood."

    Ben Underwood and his older brother Elmer were just 18 and 20 years old when they established their stereo view company, Underwood and Underwood, in 1880. Within a few years they had offices in Baltimore and Liverpool, England. According to Stereo Views by William Culp Darrah (Times and News Publishing), by 1901 the pair produced more than 7 million cards per year. They revolutionized the sale of cards by producing them in sets.

    A quick Google search for Lyndhurst led me to a page about the house of that name in Tarrytown, NY. You can see gorgeous images of this Gothic Revival style estate and read about it's history. 

    The Library of Congress cataloging record said the image was taken at the Lyndhurst School. There was no mention of the school on the site for the estate, so further research was necessary.

    Only three families owned the house before it was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961. "Lyndhurst" was likely a keyword chosen by the Underwoods to draw attention to the image. The public was fascinated by the lives of these incredibly wealthy individuals. 

    In 1905, Miss Helen Miller Gould owned Lyndhurst.  Her father was Jay Gould, a railroad entrepreneur who had a reputation as a robber baron profiting off the less fortunate. He made millions. His daughter, one of six children, was a very wealthy young woman. Helen briefly attended law school but decided against a public life. Instead, she focused on philanthropy.

    Helen cared for and educated poor crippled children from the inner city at Woody Crest, a home at Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. She had a reputation as a caring and intelligent woman. Volume 25 of Munsey's Magazine (April to September 1901) featured a story on her charitable pursuits.

    Every year at Christmas she provided a turkey dinner for Woody Crest residents. Dec. 25, 1905, the children turned the tables on their hostess and cooked her a dinner from food produced on the estate. They gave her a gift of a holly and evergreen wreath. You can see her presents to the boys in this picture.



    She gave each of the 16 boys at Woody Crest a chest of "tools," a miniature store, books, and Indian and police costumes. A Dec. 26, 1905, article in the Baltimore American reported details of the event in "Helen Gould's Boys." The writer compared her generosity to that of John D. Rockefeller. While he gave telephone and telegraph operators in Tarrytown $5 each, Gould gave them $10 each.

    The center image shows off the paper bell hanging from the chandelier, the glass ornaments and trimmings on the tree.

    Even Helen Gould's millions had limits. In 1908, she had to decide which projects to continue. According to the Grand Forks Daily Herald, April 5, 1908, in "Helen Retrenches," it was reported that she was going to stop summer outings for poor children at Woody Crest.



    In 1913 at 45, Helen Miller Gould married Finley Johnson Shepard. The couple adopted three children, one of whom was a baby abandoned on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, and had one foster child. 

    It's a heartwarming story just in time for the holidays. 


    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
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1900-1910 photos | adoption | children | Christmas
    Monday, 08 December 2014 16:06:01 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]