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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, 26 April 2015
Wavy Hair in Old Photos: Spot the Right Decade
Posted by Maureen

The next time you curl your hair, think about the success of 19th-century hairdresser Marcel Grateau. In 1872, he turned hair tongs upside down when styling a stage star's hair, and created a trend that remained popular for more than 50 years!



Last week I discussed Jim DeVogt's funeral card for a woman named Jane Early. He'd like to know if this photo shows Jane Early. 

Right away her hairstyle stood out. It's the Marcel Wave. In this circa 1878-1880 image, this fashionable young woman not only shows off the latest hair fashion, but also a very trendy collar.

Religious motif jewelry also was worn in the 1870s. Her choice of accessories could be fashion or faith.

Jane (Darcy) Early, born in Ireland in 1828, died in Wabasha County, Minn., in 1891. Is this Jane? The big question is, how old do you think this woman is? If this photo was taken in 1878, Jane would be 50. I think this woman looks too young, but everyone ages at different rates.

Provenance could be key. This photo is from Jim's aunt, who inherited it from her mother, who had been married to Hugh Darcy. There are multiple marriages between the Darcy and Early families. The aunt thought that the photo album in which this image appeared had once belonged to the Early family, but the last member of that family died in 1906.

I'd love to see your pictures featuring the Marcel Wave. Send in your pictures of women from the 1870s through the 1930s wearing the Wave through the ages using this blog's How to Submit guidelines.

You can learn more about using hair to date your old family photos from my book Hairstyles 1840-1900


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 | 1930s photos | hairstyles
    Sunday, 26 April 2015 21:24:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Tuesday, 21 April 2015
    Photo Clues in 19th-Century Funeral Cards
    Posted by Maureen



    Funeral cards are nothing new. In the 1860s, mourning cards were popular after the assassination of President Lincoln, but not to announce the death of an average person. By the 1880s, though, it was fashionable to print cards to memorialize relatives.

    This funeral card dates from 1891 and is printed on the type of cardstock also used for cabinet card photographs.  While this card features just life and death dates for Mrs. Jane Early (and a poem), it's not unusual to see cards with floral arrangements or photographs of the deceased taken while still alive.

    Dark cardstock was popular in the 1880s and doesn't necessarily declare an image to be a memorial card. White or cream card stock was also used. The presence of a death date on the item is what confirms it to be a funeral card.

    These card were handed out at funerals or sent to friends and relatives to announce a death. The use of this style and format peaked during the cabinet card era of 1880 to 1900.

    Thank you to Jim TeVogt for emailing this card!


    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 | Abraham Lincoln | mourning photos
    Tuesday, 21 April 2015 16:58:38 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    # Monday, 13 April 2015
    Labeling Old Photos: A Good Deed
    Posted by Maureen


    Along the bottom edge of this photo someone wrote: "Noland...Ohio."  One of the problems is that on the back Melanie Ohm's mother and aunt wrote that this image depicts Martha Ann Noland Hammond (1843-1870), George Hammond and Mary Hammond as well as a statement: "This would be the Noland family background." Melanie recognized their handwriting.  It's a good idea to include your name and date when labeling images so that future generations will know who wrote them.

    Melanie suspects her aunt was guessing. If this photo dates from circa 1860, then it could be an image of her Noland ancestors who had three siblings.

    Unfortunately it's not from the 1860s.  Here are three fashion clues that help pinpoint a time frame.  The size and format of the photo are not typical for the 1860s either.
     

    The neck scarves worn by the women date from the late 1870s to the early 1880s.  The man's tie is also typical for that period. 

    That places the photo around ten years after the death of Martha Ann. It's obvious that Melanie's aunt believed that this photo represented the Noland family.  There must have been something about the image that led her to that conclusion.

    I can't wait to hear from Melanie to see if this new date identifies the folks in this family portrait. The 1880 census might offer clues to their identity. It's searchable on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.



    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


  • 1880s photos | men | women
    Monday, 13 April 2015 15:15:48 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Monday, 06 April 2015
    Finding Gold in Old Family Photos
    Posted by Maureen

    Family photos can depict a single individual or a large group. While we think of them in terms of our family history, large group portraits might be important to other families as well. Take this photo of a group in Shaws Flats, Calif.



    Shaws Flats was a Gold Rush town in the 1850s that has a reputation for being one of the richest gold areas. Sarah G. Dunster's family settled there sometime in the mid- to late-19th century and they stayed until the mid-20th century. Her last relative in Shaws Flats died in 1985. 

    She's trying to figure out who's in this image and when it was taken. her grandmother Julia stands on a log holding a child.



    Sarah wonders if this image was taken in the 1870s or later. The clothing clues in this image definitely rule out the 1870s. Here's a close-up of the women in the group.



    The young woman on the left dates the picture. She's fashionably dressed for this town; the other women are in everyday dresses and the men are in work clothes. I can't help but wonder who she is and why she's so well-dressed. She's also the only woman not wearing a well-worn apron, and she even wears a restrictive corset to cinch her waist. Outfits like this, complete with a tie, were common in the mid-1890s. Given her appearance it's possible she worked in a store or an office.

    Since Sarah had relatives living in Shaws Flats in 1900, I'd look at the 1900 census to see if it's possible to identify other people in the image. I'd start with the children and add approximately five years to their estimated ages to see if they appear in the census. Of course, it's possible that some of these people moved out of the area between the time of the photo and the census, but the census is a good place to start.

    I'd also post this image on a Facebook page at a low resolution. If there isn't a page/group for Shaws Flats, then this would be a good image to start one. Sarah will be able to connect with other people whose families lived there and maybe collect some local history. She also could edit the image and post the individual faces on the page as an identification puzzle. 

    Love these group pictures that show the life of a community and how ordinary folks lived.  Here's one more closeup of men with work tools in hand.




    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 | Gold Rush | occupational | women
    Monday, 06 April 2015 17:13:07 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]