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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, 28 February 2016
Fraternal Clues (and more) in an Old Tintype Photo
Posted by Maureen




There is so much to love about this old tintype photo: 
  • The pose and the people are a story waiting to be told. She sits with her arm on his shoulder in a comfortable and personal way. It states that he's her husband.

  • Look at the way his hair sticks out from the sides of his head.


        He wore a hat at some point. Yup! That's 19th-century hat hair.
  • Their direct gaze makes the viewer connect with them. It's like they are here with us.

  • The sash he wears signifies a fraternal membership. Which one? He could be a Mason, but he lacks the traditional apron. Did you notice the slight yellow coloring present in the sash? Lovely!
So who are they? That's the question. This tintype image dates from the 1860s.

Could they be John McIntosh (1810-1898), born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and his wife Isabella Rutherford (1806-1894), born in Arngask, Fife, Scotland? Both are members of the photo submitter's family.

I don't think so. For one simple reason:

They aren't old enough. In the early 1860s, both husband and wife would be in their 50s. This couple is too young. 

Next week, I'll compare some other folks in the family and see if the facts add up.


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


  • 1860s photos | Civil War | fraternal | Tintypes
    Sunday, 28 February 2016 15:39:29 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 21 February 2016
    Searching for Family Photos with Google
    Posted by Maureen

    I have an ancestor, James Wilson, who drives me crazy. I bet you have a few of those too! It took decades to piece together what I know about him. Despite all this research, I still can't find a photograph of him or anyone in his wife's family. It's doubtful that I'll ever locate an image of him, but over the years, I've been able to piece together photographs that document key points in his life.

    Using the facts of his life, here's what I've found (and how):
    •  His Civil War records are sparse. He served as a gunner's mate on the USS Brandywine, the USS Morse and the USS Ohio. By searching Google Images, I was able to locate images of all three of those ships and shared them on my Facebook page. This one of the Morse fascinates. It's from the Library of Congress and appeared on Civil War Talk, along with another image.

     
    His Civil War service records gave his physical description: 5'10-1/4," hazel eyes, dark hair, light complexion. Only a small portion of the Library of Congress' images are on its website, though, so a trip to Washington, D.C. would be worthwhile.

    It's a small ship. Chances are slim that James Wilson is in this photograph, but if it's possible to narrow down the time frame he was on it, then maybe I'll find a picture of him on board. 
    Hint: Check the Library of Congress website for images of places your ancestors lived, or in this case, pictures of their service.
    • The 1865 census of Massachusetts shows the family living in Charlestown.  Another quick search using Google Images resulted in multiple stereo card views.  Instead of a general search just for the Charlestown Navy Yard, I added 1865.  It worked!
    Hint: Try a very specific search first and if it doesn't work then try again using more general terms.
    • Census records often give you the name of the street and the house number where your ancestors lived.  In 1880,James Wilson's wife and children lived on South Emerson St., New Bedford, Mass.  Within moments, I'd found their house using Google Maps.
    I'm still looking for a picture of him, but in the meantime the hunt for information has given me a view of his life.  You can do this too.

    There are more tips for locating photographs in my guide Searching for Family Photographs: How to Find Them Now.


    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


  • Civil War | photo-research tips
    Sunday, 21 February 2016 15:46:43 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 14 February 2016
    Three Clues that Identify an Old Photo
    Posted by Maureen

    The clues add up differently in every photo. It's never just one thing that helps put a name with a face. In Pat Eiler's tintype the three clues are age, fashion and another picture.

    There is no mystery as to the identity of these three people. Pat knows they are Mary Seigrist Forster (1870-1946), her mother, Mary Heffner Seigrist Schumacher (1845-1922) and George Bean.  Based on the age of George, she estimates the picture taken circa 1920.

    It's this tintype that's causing the problem. Which woman is in this picture? The mother or the daughter?


      Tintypes, patented in 1856, stayed popular until the twentieth century and are still being made today. The lovely bonnet dates this picture.  Peaked straw bonnets decorated with botanical elements and ribbons gave the wearer extra height and balanced off the bustled dresses.   The photo studio added a bit of paint to the decoration to make it visible to the viewer. 

    The shape and style of this bonnet date the picture to the late 1880s, specifically circa 1889.

    So who's in the picture.  Mary Schumacher born in 1845 was 44 in 1889. Her daughter Mary Forster was 19 in that year.

    I find it easier to compare faces by looking at them side by side. With a little help from Pixlr.com we can do that.

    Both women have wide noses, wavy lips and a similar shaped face.  But look closely.  There are no age lines in this face. One woman has straight eyebrows while the other woman has brows that frame the eyes.

    I think it's the daughter.  A twenty-something wearing her first grown-up bonnet.  That occasion is more than enough reason to go to the photo studio but I wonder if there was a special family event in the circa 1889 period.  

    There is one other detail.  People usually pose with similar expressions when posing for a photographer. 

    To look at more Victorian hats and bonnets consult, Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats, 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


  • 1880s photos | facial resemblances | Tintypes | women
    Sunday, 14 February 2016 16:30:35 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, 07 February 2016
    RootsTech 2016 Wrap-Up
    Posted by Maureen

    More than 26,000 people attended this year's RootsTech conference, the largest US genealogy conference, held in Salt LakeCity and produced by FamilySearch. Your eyes aren't deceiving you: 26,000. That's a lot of genealogists.

    Three days of lectures, a full day of Innovator Summit presentations and an amazing exhibit hall. Thank you to everyone who stopped by my Photo Detective booth to say hello!

    Pictures were everywhere. Many booths had photo props and selfie sticks so you could take pictures of yourself to post to social media or email to family and friends.  

    RootsTech's focus on innovation means it's possible to see and try out all these new products. Many of semi-finalists for the Innovator Showdown incorporated photos into their products. Here are three of my favorites:
    • Scribbitt is an online journaling platform. Tell your family story in words and pictures. Share it on social media or privately with relatives.  Use contemporary photos to chronicle your life or write about ancestral pictures.
    • The History Project brings together all your stuff—artifacts, photos, stories, video and more to create interactive narratives. Tech Crunch, CNN and the New York Times all gave this idea positive reviews.
    • Twile came all the way from the U.K. to promote their site. Build a colorful family history timeline with unlimited photos, historical data and add your GEDCOM file (or build your tree on their site).  They were a finalist.
    • Tap Genes won first place in the competition. A simple idea with long range implications. Chart your family's medical history or your own personal medical issues. While there is definitely a genealogical component to this, it can also help to know medication lists for older relatives in an emergency. This is a company to watch.



    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


  • timelines | Web sites
    Sunday, 07 February 2016 16:38:46 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]