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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, 29 March 2015
Facial Features as an Old Photo Identification Clue
Posted by Maureen

Who do you look like? I'm my father's child from the nose up and my mother's child from the nose down.

Often, looking at family photographs will trigger a familiar response: "Ah, that's where I got that nose" or "those blue eyes." 

Using facial features to identify family photographs is often a difficult assignment. It's all about adding up the evidence—clothing, photographer's imprint, format, etc.—and then comparing faces in photos.

There are more than 20 points in a face worth comparing. Eyes, noses, mouths and ears, as well as the spacing between them, can be key clues. 

Richard Rainsberger owns this picture of Amanda Lash Newhouse (1862-1945):



The photographer, Rief, first opened his studio in Canton, Ohio, in 1902.  These types of photo mounts were quite common in the early 20th century. Amanda Lash Newhouse wears a lovely printed cotton blouse with a high neckline, a style popular in the first decade of the 20th century.

Recently, a cousin gave Rainsberger this unidentified photo of a young woman:



Amanda had one daughter, Zelma, born in 1884. Could this be her?
Let's look at the faces more closely.

Using Pixlr.com, I created a collage of their faces. What resemblances do you see?



We inherit qualities from our mothers and our fathers (and our other ancestors). I see a similar smile and nose on these two women, but do all the facts add up?

The unidentified woman likely posed for this picture in her late teens or early 20s. The yoked bodice and high collar suggest it was taken in the first decade of the 20th century, just like the photo of Amanda Newhouse.

Newhouse's daughter was born in 1884. Add 20 years to that birth date and you get 1904, a likely date for the photo.

There's no photographer mentioned on the unidentified image.

I'm not sure how Richard and his cousin Rob are cousins. That last bit of information would help identify the provenance of the mystery picture. Who owned it before Rob and what other photographs was it passed down with? I can't wait to find out.

This could be a picture of Zelma—which would make two genealogists very happy.

Here are the two images side by side.





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


  • 1900-1910 photos | women
    Sunday, 29 March 2015 15:19:49 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, 23 March 2015
    Using Women's Collars to Date Old Family Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    The last two images blog reader Kimble DaCosta sent me are from the same period, but show off two different collar styles: one from the mid- to late 1870s and the other from the late 1870s to early 1880s. Both photos are tintypes.

    You can read the first two installments of DaCosta's photo story: Adding Up the Clues to Identify an Old Mystery Photo and Tips to Trace the Lineage of Your Photos.

    Here are this week's two images:

     
    1876-1878



    1879-1882

    The collar clues help determine the time period.


    Every year brought many fashion choices. Women were inventive when adapting their current clothing to fit the trends. When dating clothing in old photos, it's important to watch for the details and to add up all the clothing clues. 

    In the first photo, the dress features a high neckline with a scarf tied around the neck. This was common during the late 1870s. The long bodice, called a polonaise, is paired with a shirred skirt.

    We can't see the skirt in the second image, but the woman wears a lovely ruffled tubular collar, common in the early 1880s. Her fitted bodice features a single line of center buttons. Her skirt would've had some trim as well.

    Another type of collar popular in the early 1880s was called a fichu. It was usually lace and extended to the shoulders.

    Both women in these photos are young, likely in their late teens or early 20s.  These ages and the date ranges for the photos give DaCosta a starting point to search her family tree for possible identities.


    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 | 1880s photos | women
    Monday, 23 March 2015 18:15:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 15 March 2015
    Adding up the Clues to Identify an Old Mystery Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I wrote about the importance of knowing the lineage of your photos. The key details of provenance can keep you from making a photo identification mistake.



    Kimble DaCosta knows a lot about the photos she inherited. Her ancestor Ella Seamands identified most of the images in a chest that Kimble inherited, but there were a few that she didn't name. 

    In this picture, both the woman and the man look uncomfortable in front of the camera. Their discomfort could be due to the reason they posed for the picture or because sitting for a photograph was an unusual event in their lives.

    When identifying the photographic method used to create a 19th-century print, examine clues such as cardstock and the hue of the print. Trained photographic conservators use a microscope at 30X magnification will reveal in detail what an original print looks like at the fiber level. They also look at the surface character of the photo by viewing it flat at eye level.

    The purplish hue of this print suggests it could be either a gelatin or collodion printing-out paper, first available in 1885 and in use until 1920. 

    The clothing clues in this image date it to the late 1890s, when flat, pie plate-shaped hats with high trim were common. All the lace trim on this woman's hat suggests it was meant to be worn in summer. 

    This young woman wears fingerless gloves and carries an umbrella and a fan. While the gloves and hat are likely part of her wardrobe, I wonder if the photographer has supplied the umbrella and fan. She looks awkward holding them. 

    Let's say this picture was taken about 1897, and the man and woman are close to 20 years of age. This is a hypothesis that could help Kimble find the right people in her family tree. They would've been born in the late 1870s, with a little wiggle room on either side of the date.   

    I'm hoping this information leads to an identification. Next week I'll look at two of her other images.


    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


  • 1890s photos | hats
    Sunday, 15 March 2015 14:34:45 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 08 March 2015
    Tips to Trace the Lineage of Your Photos
    Posted by Maureen



    Tracing the line of descent of your family is more than putting names and dates on your family tree.

    You can use those same genealogical techniques to trace the history of ownership—the provenance—of your pictures.  

    Knowing how a group of pictures came to be in your collection can prevent an identification mistake. You might assume that those cute photos came from your paternal grandfather's family, when in fact, they were once owned by your paternal grandmother's family. 

    Different collections of photos often get lumped together by well-meaning relatives. Studying clues such as photographer's imprints with locations or facial resemblances can help you sort out who's who. And if a relative gives you a box of pictures, ask how the photos came into that person's possession. 

    Kimble DaCosta has 300 pictures an uncle sent her. She'd only met him twice, but he'd heard she was interested in genealogy, so he sent her a chest that once belonged to her great-grandmother Ella Francis (Seamands) Friend (1863-1936).

    DaCosta knows a lot about who owned those pictures: Ella was the daughter of John Seamands (1834-1888) and Evalina Brown (1842-1911). She married Hanson Lincoln Friend (1860-1937). Ella had identified most of the pictures, but a few mysteries remained.

    When Ella died, the chest became the possession of Kimble's grandmother, Mabel Clair (Friend) Martin (1892-1871), who was married to Harry S. Martin (1892-1971). Both Ella and Mabel placed photographs and letters in the chest. Most of the photos were from the Friend and Seamands families, but some were from her Harry S. Martin's family as well.

    With so many identified images, Kimble already knows what family characteristics match different branches. Now that she knows the names of the families represented in the collection, the next step is to date and identify the last remaining images. Above is one of her mystery images that I'll write about next week.


    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


  • summer | women
    Sunday, 08 March 2015 20:26:02 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, 02 March 2015
    Photo Jewelry
    Posted by Maureen

    Last week I showed you a picture of a piece of photo jewelry owned by Teri Luna and discussed a few clues. 


    Teri saw the column and wrote back with a few more details.

    This particular pin is 1 3/4 inches high and 1 3/8 inches wide.  In the photo it looks larger than that.  These small pins could be worn at the neckline or pinned to the bodice. 

    I suggested that this man could be either the father of John Waddell Brown or the father of his wife, Agnes Dunlop Drinnan Brown if either man was born circa 1810.

    Teri doesn't know too much about either man. Both were deceased at the time Agnes and John married in 1892. John's father, John Brown was a carting contractor but Teri lacks both birth and death information for him.  It's a classic case of genealogical research problems relating to a common name. His wife was Janet Waddell.

    Agnes' father, John Dunlop had a civic occupation as the Registrar of Births. He was born circa 1818 in Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland.  His wife was Catherine Fulton Dunlop.

    Both mother's were alive at the time their children married. The mystery remains. Who's depicted in the photo and who wore the pin? Janet or Catherine?

    Teri's determined to figure out this mystery. She's going through microfiche of town records looking for clues. She might want to consult FindMyPast.com too.  I found several possible matches for her ancestors including census records for the Dunlops.  Find My Past offers a free 14-day trial subscription.

    She's happy to know more about the pin and said, "We will treasure it forever."



    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

  • 1850s photos | photo jewelry | Web sites
    Monday, 02 March 2015 17:23:26 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]