Spend a few extra minutes examining your family pictures. Look closer at the background details (location, buildings, furniture, etc). You might discover new details leading you to solve a mystery or better understand the significance of a picture. In the case of this flowery picture, it was a mystery! A label on the back gave me some clues, but for the longest time I couldn't make a connection with anyone in my tree. The back of the picture tells me this is Alice and Frank Robinson, they lived in Livingston NJ, and they were cousins of my great grandfather Wentworth Middleton. After months away from looking at this picture I randomly realized I had all of the information right in front of me!
"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Entries in middleton (11)
The Wedding Garland is a very precious book of love poems compiled by Louise Dunham Goldsberry. The book was passed down from my great grandmother Edith. This particular edition was published by Jenings and Graham and printed in Germany (copyright 1896). Isn't it amazing this book still exists!? Kept by my ancestors for over 100 years!
This beautifully illustrated book is made up of poems describing the journey of love and marriage. A few of the poets include: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Jaques Jasmin, and Jean Ingelow. The pages are heavy weight paper decorated with angelic illustrations and vintage scrolls, finished with gold edges and bound togther with leather and cloth. It's such a beautiful gift for a bride to be! I wonder who gave this to Edith and Wentworth...
A page documenting the details of Edith and Wentworth's wedding day completes this family treasure! I am so thankful this book has been preserved all these years. It's really inspiring...What potential family treasures are hiding in your storage closet?
After going through all of my old family pictures, I organized them by family and was left with a pile of unknown mystery pictures. These pictures have no labels or snippets of information. It was easy to put them into the back of my photo album and focus my time on scanning and attaching the known faces to a name. After working with the labeled pictures I had more information and clues to help me when examining the mystery pictures. These pictures have been passed down by many generations and my thoughtful ancestors added whatever information they had about the picture's location or their own personal relationship to the individual. ANY clues are a luck find, but it can be very frustrating when can't identify unknown faces! I'd love the opportunity to share a picture of someones ancestor with them!
5 mystery pictures...
Mystery Photo #1. "Santa Rosa"
On the back of this picture it simply says "Santa Rosa", what does that mean????? I know this is a Shaw Family portrait with my great great grandmother Ann, great grandmother Edith, and my grandmother Marjorie. A few of the others I am able to identify from other labeled Shaw pictures, but most are just guesses or completely unknown. The only clues in this picture are the ages of Ann and Marjorie, Ann died in 1939 and Marjorie was born in 1917. That tells me the picture was taken on or before 1939 and from the looks of Marjorie she is about 15-20? So I am guessing this picture was taken sometime between 1932-1939.
Mystery Photo #2. Woman and baby Tintype
This mystery may never be solved, I think it's likely that this could be one of the few, if not the only, picture of this woman. I believe this picture is a tintype and from what I've read the usage of Tintype photography spans the years of 1856-1900ish. I have a few daguerreotypes from the Franks family, maybe this is a Franks woman? Any suggestions on how to find out who this is?
Mystery Picture #3- Shaw Women
Again I know this is the Shaw Family and the 3 women in the front row: (from right) Marjorie, Edith, and Ann. No description or markings on the back! To me they look a LITTLE bit older than mystery picture #1, so maybe it was taken 1933-1939?
Mystery Picture #4. Co L 3rd Infantry , 1st Sgt. Lester D. May...?
This picture is from one of the first pages of an old black construction paper photo album. After looking through the album MANY times I have linked similar jewelry and settings with other labeled Shaw pictures, so I am lead to believe there are Shaw women in this album, but for most part I have NO IDEA who the individuals are. This album will soon have it's own post!
I was able to remove the picture from the paper (VERY VERY GENTLY, I don't recommend!) and realized there was writing on the back!
1st Sgt. Lester D. May...
Co L 3rd Inf. C.A.
Any ideas what year this picture might be from??
Mystery Picture #5. Postcard to my Great Grandmother Mary Nolen from Lula?
7 July 1908, Rochester, NY- "This is one Ray took of me at Palmers Glen. I will send you more as soon as.."
..."he gets them done. Hope you are feeling well these hot days. Ans soon. Yours, Lula."
I don't know who Lula is! I don't have any leads to Rochester or anyone named Lula...The date of the postcard and the usage of my great grandmothers maiden name give me some sort of time line as to when Mary married my great grandfather. I don't know when they married but Mary Nolen would have been about 20 when she got this postcard in 1908 and she had their first child abt 1914, so they were most likely married between July 1908-1914. But I'm still on the lookout for Lula and Ray....
The message here: don't let mystery pictures slip through the cracks! There are many different types of clues you can get from pictures that will help you identify pictures and create a time line of your ancestors life. I've never tried any face recognition software...should that be a next step??
Clues to look for in pictures: clothing, jewelry, furniture, backgrounds, location, labels, markings from the photo processor, photographer name/location, shape, size, paper type, and photography type...to list a few!
How have you identified pictures? Do you have unknown family pictures in your albums? Are they hanging on your wall? I'd love to hear your stories!
The Ancestor Approved Award was started by Leslie Ann (Ancestors Live Here) to show appreciation of bloggers sharing interesting - helpful - fun content. Jennifer (The Erudite Geneagloist) has passed on the Ancestor Approved Award to me! Thank you so much for the recognition. When given the nod you are asked to share 10 things you have learned about your ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened you. I thought it would be easy to make the list, but I was surprised how competitive I made it for my ancestor's stories! Here are a few of my moments.