Thursday, July 31, 2008

Health Issues And Women Wearing Glasses - Web Wandering Wednesday

My apologies Web Wandering Wednesday did not automatically post yesterday and I failed to notice.
Better late than never!

Everyone's favorite Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor posted a very interesting article recently, Spotlight On Family Health History - The Photo Side, July 21, 2008. In the article Maureen discussed photographs that indicated health problems of the sitter saying:

I've received several photographs from readers of individuals with obvious medical conditions or dental problems. I'm busy tracking down the clues in those images—the evidence in those photos may be pertinent to the owners' own health history.

In collecting photographs of "women wearing glasses" and in working on the book, I have attempted to fill in the blanks concerning my subject. One of those blanks was photographs depicting medical conditions associated with women wearing glasses.

In doing photographic research I have bumped into "before and after medical" photographs, some of which have been identified as having been taken by physicians treating those pictured. Recently, I was very fortunate to find several photographs of a young girl named Alice Toner who had a medical condition associated with her eyes and, according to the photographs, spent the rest of her life wearing glasses. I have several photographs of Alice.

While my research into Alice's life is preliminary, her photographs are pertinent to this discussion. I will show you the photographs and tell you what I know about this young woman thus far.

The "before and after" photographs were taken by Miller's Art Studio in Pittsburg, Kansas. There are several Millers who are photographers in the 1880 census. I have not determined which is the correct Miller.

Alice was born in Illinois. She is found to be living in Kansas in 1880. She most probably traveled to Pittsburg for the medical procedure, as Pittsburg was not listed as her place of residence. Some records have indicated that she was born in 1874. She appears to be between six and 10 years old. Making this photograph possibly between 1880 and 1884. (Much more research is required to substantiate this information.)

Before And After

The Beautiful Result

Strabismus is probably the condition that defines Alice Toner's optical medical problem. "Strabismus, more commonly known as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, is a vision condition in which a person can not align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions. One or both of the eyes may turn in, out, up or down. An eye turn may be constant (when the eye turns all of the time) or intermittent (turning only some of the time, such as, under stressful conditions or when ill). Whether constant or intermittent, strabismus always requires appropriate evaluation and treatment. Children do not outgrow strabismus." The condition was identified and treated as early as 1850.


The sources for the information on Alice Toner have not been listed as they are preliminary.


Optometrists Network - Strabismus.


Alice Toner (Before & After). Photograph (Card Mounted). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007.

Alice Toner. Photograph (Unmounted). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Birds' - Nesting With A Camera - Twice Told Tuesday

Twice Told Tuesday features a photography related article reprinted from
my collection of old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.

I selected this article to showcase one of my favorite early bird watcher photographs and the lovely bird guide books I have collected. As I jump and run out the door with my credit card size camera to catch that hummingbird outside my office window, I think of this article.

Warning to modern day bird watchers, environmentalists, naturalists, and photographers - this article may cause your heart to stop - and today many things discussed are against the law.

Birds' - Nesting With A Camera
By Benjamin Hanley
The Amateur Photographer's Weekly
May 19, 1916

Many of us will have collected birds' eggs at one time or another, and even now those of us who are growing old can scarcely resist the temptation to look inside each bird's nest we see, even though it be only to look, admire, and pass on.

But as time elapses these memories become fainter, until we forget where it was we last saw such and such a nest, and this is where the use of the camera as a means of making permanent records of these treasures found on our rambles comes to the front.

To my mind no branch of nature study is so interesting as that devoted to ornithology, but when combined with photography it is really fascinating. At the same time the photographing of birds' nests is by no means as easy as it might first appear, for it is fraught with pitfalls for the unwary novice, and even the experienced worker meets with failures; but then, on the other hand, there are no great difficulties to deter anyone who is possessed of a certain amount of patience.

Further on I will try to give a few hints which may be of use in a material way to those who intend to take up this branch of work during the coming season for the first time, for there must be any amateur photographers who have up to now hesitated to launch out into nature photography solely on account of its alleged difficulties.

I am not going to deny that there are difficulties; as I have just stated the work is fraught with pitfalls for the unwary, but at the same time there is absolutely no reason why any amateur should not become a successful student, and I would therefore urge all who have a stand camera and a real love for nature to go in for nature photography with no thought of failure. In these notes I propose to deal only with nests and eggs, for it is usual to become proficient in the art of photographing these before attempting to take their owners. . .

The question arises as to how large the nest and eggs shall be made to appear in the photograph. Sometimes one sees pictures where the eggs and nest occupy the whole of the plate, and where even part of the nest is cut out. These are all right for showing up the markings of the eggs, but for all other purposes they are useless.

It should invariably be the worker's aim to show the situation in which the nest is found, or at all events something of it if at all possible. For instance, if you are photographing a nest in a clump of sedge, let it be seen at once from the photograph that the nest was built in such a position. Another point with such pictures is that they invariably look well when converted into lantern slides and thrown upon the screen, whereas a simple picture of nest and eggs enlarged many hundreds of times rarely appeals to anyone.

In the case of nests of such birds as hedge-sparrows, song-thrushes, blackbirds, etc., which build in hedges, it is often necessary to move some of the surrounding vegetation, in order to get a clear view of nest and eggs. Bear in mind, however, that branches and twigs should never be cut off, but simply tied back, and released after the picture has been secured. It will be seen that a supply of twine will come in handy.

Preparing Breakfast
(Two adult Chipping Sparrows are breaking a
worm into pieces to feed the young.)

Another point to guard against is the tilting of the nest in order to expose the whole contents. Never do this, for unless the nest be built on the ground, it is better to show only two or at most three of the eggs. By tilting the nest it not only renders the eggs liable to fall out, but also spoils the beautiful symmetrical outline, and consequently the photograph would not be true to nature. And it should invariably be the worker's aim to show things exactly as they are in nature. . .


Hanley, Benjamin, Birds' - Nesting With A Camera. The Amateur Photographer's Weekly. May 1916. pg. 463.
Reed, Chas. K. Bird Guide, Land Birds East of the Rockies. Reed, Worcester, Mass. 1905.


Woman Sporting Dress With Field Glasses. Photograph (card mounted). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, WA. 2008.

Unknown (Preparing Breakfast). 1905.
Bird Guide, Land Birds East of the Rockies. Chas. K. Reed. Mass. 1905. pg. frontpiece.


Unknown (Land Bird). 1905. Bird Guide, Land Birds East of the Rockies. Chas. K. Reed. Mass. 1905.


Monday, July 28, 2008

August 1 - And The Guest Author Is . . .


You know that smile, you've read her wisdom. Yes, it's Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist. I have turned to Sally's blog more times than I can count and have always appreciated her "practical" advice. If you need help organizing, preserving, or sharing your family archives, read Friday From The Collectors August 1, when Sally asks and answers, "Is It Best To Keep Everything?"

Sally will address the division between the ancestor photos you've inherited and photos you've taken yourself. She'll help us with the difference between mystery ancestor photos and photos you yourself need to caption to keep them from becoming future orphans. And even though she's going to tackle the subject of "purging," she'll show us some fun alternatives.

Sally certainly has the credentials, but she wasn't born wanting to be an archivist. She tells us:

As a young girl I never imagined I would grow up to become an archivist. Heck, I didn't even know there was such a thing. My plan was to become a rock n' roll photo-journalist. You know, the next Annie Liebovitz. (Ah, youth.)

Fast forward to 1994. I had a BA in History and Anthropology and a decent job at a great book store in Madison, Wisconsin. I was madly in love and all-around happy. Retail was starting to lose its appeal. I was ready for whatever was coming next, I just didn't have any idea what that was...

One day my coworker Allison announced that she was going to library school. Curious, I took a peek at the course catalog and discovered my calling: taking care of historical materials. It seemed so obvious, yet it had never occurred to me. There was no doubt in my mind. This was what I needed to do. And when I started the program I knew I had found my new family.

Rock and roll photo journalism's loss was definitely our gain.

After earning her Master's Sally worked on collections at the Library of Congress, the Wisconsin Historical Society, Memorial Library Special Collections, American Girl (my Granddaughter's favorite), and the Chicago Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Shades is pleased to have Sally share her knowledge of family collections with readers of Friday From The Collectors, August 1.

See You There!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Pile Of Bricks And Internet Genealogy Magazine

When I was a little girl my father gave me a pile of bricks. It was one of the best presents I was ever given. I built a mansion, a ranch house, a fort, chairs, tables, a fireplace - you get the picture. It was my entertainment, my diversion. I could be anyone I wanted and live anywhere I wanted.

The bricks were out under a lovely weeping willow in the side yard; under my bedroom window where I could look at my creation before going to sleep each night. I was the only one who found the creations of note. There was no home show tour of my pile of bricks.

When I started Shades and footnoteMaven I viewed them as my adult, digital age, pile of bricks. I chose to be the footnoteMaven. My digital bricks, like their real world counter-part, could be anything I wanted them to be. And so I created Shades and footnoteMaven around things that interested me. My pile of bricks after all.

Those wandering the web stopped and commented on what I had done. I made some wonderful friends. Then it happened, the digital equivalent of the home show tour of my pile of bricks.

Internet Genealogy Magazine spotlighted Shades Of The Departed in its September 2008, Net Notes.

I could not be more pleased and proud. (I feel like those parents with the bumper stickers proclaiming their child student of the month!) It's a beautiful, well-written article by Donna J. Pointkouski, What's Past Is Prologue, describing Shades.

Donna and Internet Genealogy Magazine, thank you so much! Thank you for the tour of my pile of digital bricks and my fifteen minutes of fame!

I now have something wonderful to hand down to those for whom I will be their ancestor. A copy of Internet Genealogy Magazine, September 2008 (I bought a few). Something that will tell them of my passions and how I lived my life. What family historian could ask for more? What pile of digital bricks could ask for more?


Friday, July 25, 2008

July 25 - Friday From The Collectors

I'm going to start with one of the charts we have been showing at conferences this year, my current favorite.

Hourglass Chart

This is called an hourglass chart with ancestors on the top and descendants on the bottom. We do a lot of these at Christmas time. To the side on this one is a wedding picture, but you could put a group picture, or the home where this family lived. If you can imagine this chart without the pictures, it would not be nearly as engaging. We have done a few charts like this with even 100s of pictures. The more pictures, the more spectacular they are.

But you don't need to have a ton of pictures to make a great chart. Even one picture can make a chart come alive.

Pedigree Chart

This is a simple pedigree that we have done often with a picture of the current family, or here with the patriarchal ancestor who brought the family name to America.

Pedigree Chart - Patriarchal Ancestor

I particularly like this one for a child too.

Pedigree Chart - Child

If you don't have a bunch of pictures for the hourglass above, pictures of the central couple work as well.

Hourglass - Central Couple

One of my favorite charts that we did for family reunion season last year was this one. Luckily she gave me permission to share it. This lady focused on the family of 7 girls and one brother down the center right of this chart. To their right are the parents and grandparents. Then for each of the 8 children, she did a separate chart where she enlarged one of the 8 children, added that child's spouse(s) and then put their descendants to the left. She added wedding, group and house pictures at the bottom right for each family. The wonderful thing about these charts were that she had gone through and found pictures for each person in their early 20's. The 7 daughters all had these beautiful 1940's pictures so she added the art deco border and title to complement. It took her a month to collect photos for the descendants on all 8 charts, but she was thrilled with the attendance at the family reunion—everyone had to come see themselves and where they fit in. She wrote me afterward and expressed appreciation for the emotional healing she felt that this project had created in the family.

My Favorite

Another great descendancy chart we have permission to share is this Italian immigrant chart.

Italian Immigrant Chart

This client wanted to produce a chart for the Italian part of the family that showed all the American cousins. He added a map, copy of the immigrant's birth certificate and a narrative about the miracle he experienced finding these cousins on a trip to Italy. Again, it took some effort to get all the descendants pictures but it was spectacular in the end.

And here is another one where we have added some extra embellishment to bring the chart to life.

Ancestor Chart - Added Embellishments

This is an ancestor chart with an amazing amount of ancestor pictures in with the data. But then on top we added some family pictures and on the bottom right a timeline of her life. We split the mother's line from the father's line to be able to break it up a little and fit it to a normal frame size.

One of the new designs we are doing is a chart without all the vital information. Just focus on the good stuff—the pictures. The new timelines can be done lots of different ways. You can do the life span of one person, or all the children in a family.

The Life Span Of One Person

All The Children In One Family

The one I have in my office is my matriarchal line.

My Matriarchal Line

And a client gave us the idea for this one, a legacy chart.

Legacy Chart

You can do this with vital statistics or more explanation. It would work for your famous ancestors or for your more infamous. I like it in this format with just the pictures again. These are beautiful unframed as stretched canvas giclees.

Then, there is also the whole perspective in the family timeline chart we have developed. You could do this lots of ways too. This one has the wedding picture in the center with parent timelines on top, and family group and individual pictures below. It all centers on that wedding picture because that is what created this family.

Family Timeline Chart

And finally I'll end with my all-time favorite. This is the chart that hangs in our dining room, as a big beautiful framed canvas giclee. We call it a wedding chart, and I love how young and in love everyone is.

Wedding Chart

As we have developed our company, I have been impressed with the impact of having your family history out in front of you every day. I find that it inspires me, helps me reach a little farther and work a little harder. It is good for me to be reminded of the span of a life, and the reach of a family. However you decide to do it, I would encourage you to get your family history out in front of you, where you and the people you live with can enjoy it.

Article & Photographs
Copyright © 2008
Generation Maps

If you've seen something you just must have, please contact Janet at Generation Maps. You won't be disappointed.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where's The Photo Of The Week? - Many Things Thursday

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things."

Thursday, on Shades Of The Departed, will be dedicated to many things,
and nothing in particular.

Many Things Thursday

Some of you may have noticed that the Photo Of The Week has been on hiatus and I felt it was time that I explained the absence.

Recently I visited one of my favorite antique stores and was stopped by two of the clerks who worked there. "We have something that's been waiting just for you," they said. "We think you're the person who can do it justice and honor these people." A tall order I thought, but they had piqued my curiosity.

From a locked cabinet they removed a small leather bound album. Two local designers who frequent the Paris flea markets had gotten the album with a larger purchase and didn't really know what to do with it.

What I found inside absolutely captivated me. The album belonged to a young woman named Jennie M. Corbett who lived at 24 High Street, Newhaven, Sussex, and was dated January 10th, 1915. It is filled with pencil, pen and ink sketches, watercolors, and oils; many done by young men serving in the military. I have been researching each of the names I've found. One young man is listed as having been wounded at Hollenzollern Redoubt, 18 March 1916. I found he survived his wounds only to die of influenza the next year.

Here is one of the sketches. Each more wonderful than the next. I selected this one in celebration of Terry Thornton's series of articles on food and in particular today's addition. It is quite fitting.

The Tadpoles form a singing class.
Safe in their native bog.
Their voices there are highly trained
By old Professor Frog.

But it is trouble thrown away.
Such teaching is a joke.
For when grown-up with arms & legs.
Alas they only croak.

C. ch. German

Then a friend asked me to look into two leather bound sketch books in her possession that were done by a soldier serving in France named Gerald F. Perry 1918-1919. It is as exciting as my album.

He sketched everything he saw. Women washing clothes, soldiers, farmers, men drinking in outdoor cafes. It is absolutely amazing. And another frog sketch!

Sgt. Magnus

This has become a huge project and I am dialing back on the research. My research eyes have been bigger than my research hours. But then you know how that happens.

I will be bringing the Photo Of The Week back next Monday.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming! - Wandering The Web

August 23, 2007, I wrote an article on footnoteMaven about a photograph I had purchased titled, Finding That Two Hundredth Edwardian Woman In A White Dress. It was about a group of women and one man called the "Birthday Club," Lamoure, North Dakota, September 2, 1911.

Each person in the photograph was researched and a small window about their life was written using only the census. A photographic key was created and included here on Shades in the Labeling and Labeling Systems article. I lovingly call this photographic research method the "Birthday Club Method."

While wandering the web, Kathleen Bertrand bumped into her own close encounter, a family connection to this article. A portion of the article and Kathleen's remarks are below:

Kathleen Bertrand:

You just never know what may pop up when you google a name like KONOSKE. Robert and John Konoske were both uncles of my Grandmother Frances Pearl KONOSKE Wander. She was the daughter of Herman KONOSKE, a brother to the two men. I am inspired! . . . . ."

The Birthday Club - Lamoure, N.D. - 1911

The Key

Mrs. Robert Konoske is Mary Konoske. The 1910 census lists her age as 45 years old, however, the 1900 census lists her birth date as December 1863. This would make Mary 47 years old at the time of the census, not 45, and 4 months short of 49 in the photograph.

This is the second marriage for Mary and the first for Robert. They have been married nine years. Mary has had seven children and seven are living. Her children are listed as Mary 20, Lizzie 19, Jacob 17, Martha 14, Edna 12, Robert 8, Florence 5. All the children are listed as Konoske, but it would appear that only Robert and Florence are Robert’s biological children using the fact that Robert and Mary have only been married nine years. Robert's occupation is a retired farmer.

The 1920 census finds that Robert and Mary have taken in Robert’s widowed brother John Konoske. Mary, Lizzie, and Martha are no longer living at home. We now know Mary's previous married name, as Jacob and Edna are listed as Robert’s step-children and their surname is Schneider. Robert is now a wagon maker, the occupation of his brother John in the 1910 census. John has retired and it appears Robert has taken over the Konoske wagon making business.

We find a Mary Schneider in the 1900 census. She is a widow with a farm and five children. They are Mary, Lizzie, Jacob, Martha and Edna. These are the same names listed for the children of Mary Konoske, so it is fairly safe to assume this is the same Mary.

There is no Robert Konoske living in Lamoure in 1900, but there is a John who is married with several children. It is an assumption that as John Konoske and Mary Schneider were both living in Lamoure that they knew each other and that John introduced Mary to his unmarried brother Robert.

By 1930 Mary is a widow living alone in Lamoure.

Thank You Kathleen
It's All About The Connections!

I'm Inspired!



The Birthday Club. Photograph (Card Mount). September 2, 1911. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007.

The Birthday Club - Key. Digital. 2007. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007.

The Birthday Club (Inset Mrs. Robert Konoske). Digital. 2007. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Get The Picture - Twice Told Tuesday

Twice Told Tuesday features a photography related article reprinted from
my collection of old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.

Here is advice as good today as it was in 1918. We have those wonderful technologically superior cameras, but do we get the picture?

Friday, February 1, 1918

PHOTOGRAPHY is many-sided - mechanical, technical, scientific, artistic, esthetic, utilitarian, personal - but, from what ever side we may approach it, the picture is the thing.

We know an amateur who spent several years in engrossing study of mechanical and technical and scientific phases of photography, during which time, however, he produced practically no pictures of interest to himself or others.

This experience can be duplicated any number of times. It is possible to forget that the picture is the thing.

Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, the most satisfactory evidence you can have of your present interest in photography will be an interesting collection of pictures made in this present time.

Do not overlook this. Seek to comprehend the scientific basis of photography, become proficient in its different processes, let your intelligence and interest play as broadly and as deeply on the various phases of photography as your inclinations dictate, but steady yourself with the reflection that the picture is the thing.

Get the knowledge, get the facts - but also get the pictures. For these, in the end, are your results.

Thank you to all those that "got the picture." For without
you there would be no family history and no collection.


Unknown, Results. THE AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER'S WEEKLY. February 1918. pg. 65.


Decker, J.E. Tatting (Little Girl Wearing Glasses). 1918.


Monday, July 21, 2008

July 25 - And The Guest Author Is . . .

Use those family photographs - that's the mantra here at Shades. What better way to use those photographs than to create a beautiful decorative family heritage chart. And who better to show us the way than Janet Hovorka, The Chart Chick and owner of Generation Maps.

Janet will introduce Shades readers to some of the fantastic charts created by her customers. Fabulous charts using photographs to express family heritage. Charts that their owners have generously agreed to share. Janet will show you some of her own creations, and also the ones she would never have dreamed of creating. You are sure to find some new ideas for your own family history displays.

Janet and her husband Kim Hovorka own Generation Maps, an online genealogy chart printing service. Generation Maps came about when Janet inherited a large amount of genealogy from her mother and grandmother, both wonderful genealogists.

As she explored and cataloged it, she tried several times to get "the bigger picture" by charting out how it all related. At one point, Kim, a GIS coordinator and map printer, decided to plot out the 6,000 person computer file. And thus, Kim and Janet had found a place they could combine their talents and their favorite pastime in one place.

They pride themselves in being able to print *any* kind of genealogy chart, from beautiful fine art pieces to 600 foot family reunion charts for writing on. At first, Janet only wanted to print working charts--to write on and add more information to--to help genealogists with their research. She didn't want to let anyone frame a chart and say their genealogy was "all done" -- a personal pet peeve.

But as they branched into decorative charts, she has become very passionate about keeping your family history out where you see it and where it can inspire you and affect your life. Janet loves traveling to genealogy conferences and working with genealogists--the greatest group of people in the world.

Janet writes The Chart Chick blog, has recently become addicted to Facebook, and is preparing for her first triathlon in August. She has written for many publications, including genealogy publications in: NGS News Magazine, Digital Genealogist, Meridian Magazine, and the BYU Family Historian.

Janet currently has 13 active genealogy lectures, has delivered hundreds of lectures at regional and national conferences, and helped numerous people find out more about their family's history.

One of Janet's greatest genealogy accomplishments was the completion and publication of her Mother-in-law's oral history just one year prior to her untimely death. Janet's current genealogical interests include a Swedish Anderson line of her mother-in-law's and extracting the genealogy work of Joseph Hatten Carpenter, her patriarchal Great-Grandfather.

Unfortunately, starting a genealogy business is one of the worst things one can do for their own research, but Janet enjoys learning about the family history of others as well as her own.

Join us July 25, when Shades welcomes Janet
Hovorka, The Chart Chick, and the wealth of information on decorative family heritage charts she will share with us.

See You Then!


Janet Hovorka received a B.A. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and a Master's degree in Library Science from Brigham Young University. She studied Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Egyptian Hieroglypics, and German, and lived in the Middle East for a year carrying gas masks around during the first war with Iraq. She accepted teaching and library positions at BYU and Salt Lake Community College before having her three wonderful children.


Friday, July 18, 2008

July 18 - Friday From The Collectors



Displaying some of my Albums, Ambrotypes &

Types of Early Photographs

Photography arrived in the United States circa 1839 thanks to the newly invented daguerreotype process. A daguerreotype has no negative so if you find a daguerreotype you know you have a one-of-a-kind image. They look like a mirror and the images jump out at you, appearing very 3 dimensional.

An example of a 6th plate Daguerreotype taken ca 1854

By 1854 Ambrotypes had entered the photography scene and were widely used. The ambrotype was a glass negative backed with black material, which enabled it to appear as a positive image. The ambrotype was much cheaper than a daguerreotype.

An example of a 9th plate Ambrotype ca 1858

1855 saw the introduction of the Ferrotype process (commonly called tintypes) in the United States. It substituted an iron plate for glass and was even cheaper than the ambrotype.

Tintype of a Civil War soldier

Then came the CDV. CDV stands for carte de visite, meaning a photographic calling card. The CDV process began in France in 1854 and rapidly replaced the old glass images of the ambrotypes, producing a card the size of the then standard calling card, around 2.5 x 4. The CDV process produced a negative from which any number of prints could be made.

CDVs arrived in the United States around 1859, on the eve of the Civil War (1861-1865). Demand for CDVs was high, as soldiers and their loved ones sought an affordable image of remembrance. Special photo albums were designed especially for cartes-de-visite.
My Collection Begins

Several years ago while prowling through a local antique store, I came upon a gorgeous leather photo album full of beautiful old portraits. (I would later learn that they were called CDVs). Most of the photos were identified with names in elaborate old handwriting and that also caught my eye. Holding a CDV in your hand is like holding a window to the past and I couldn’t walk away from that album. I wanted a better glimpse through that window.

I was fascinated by the people and consumed with wanting to know something about them – when they were born, who they married, did they have children, and so on. As an avid genealogist I figured I could probably find out more about the subjects of the photos and that would be my look through the window into their lives. That was the start of what was to become a huge collection of albums and CDVs.

Two Civil War widows. Notice that they are holding Photo Albums
which are the very albums I collect. It may even be that they purchased
the albums for their CDVs. Thus the album I own which this CDV
was in may be the album on the left in this photo.

Gradually my interest became focused on women during the Civil War era. I felt a kinship for these women and wondered what lay hidden behind their stiff faces and formal poses.

Fashion in Early CDVs

I am fascinated by the customs and traditions that women followed during the time period of the Civil War. Their clothing, their hairstyle, jewelry and even their poses reflect the social nuances of the times. Children’s portraits of this time period also intrigue me, as during the Civil War era they were dressed as miniature adults. One of my rarest finds is a CDV of a young child with his rocking horse. It is rare to find portraits of children with their toys or familiar objects, for they were expected to behave as adults and stand or sit very still during their sitting for the photographer. There are few casual photographs, people were most often posed formally for their photos. Often women hold an actual CDV Civil War album, or a book. But rarely is it a personal item with meaning to the individual.

Photograph: Very early CDV of young boy on rocking horse. Even though he is in a dress he is almost certainly a boy because of the side part in the hair. Girls' hair was parted in the middle.

You can see some examples of Civil War era fashions in CDVs at Olive Tree Genealogy Fashion Photographs.

Revenue Stamps

Collectors of cartes-de-visite often have one or more prized Civil War photographs that have revenue stamps fixed on the reverse side. An Act of Congress passed on June 30, 1864 added a new tax on all "photographs, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes or any other sun-pictures" to be paid for by attaching a revenue stamp on the back of the photograph. Because these stamps were only required on photographs from 1864 to 1866, their presence (or absence) gives us the approximate dates of photographs of the Civil War era. Often the photographer dated the revenue stamp which gives us an exact date the photograph was taken.

Photograph: An example of a dated revenue stamp. 26 July '65.

Other Clues to Help Date Old Photographs

How else can we date an old CDV? From 1859 to 1872, CDVs had square cut corners. After 1872 corners were rounded. There are other signs to look for - in the 1860s the backs of CDVs were very thin, often they were layers of paper or cardboard. By 1870 the backs were thicker.

This square cornered CDV dates it to pre 1872. The beautifully dressed
older woman is rather unusually posed in all her outdoor finery.
It is harder to date CDVs of older women as they often wore bonnets
and hairdos that were out of style but had been in style in
their youth. Given the plain background, patterned flooring and
thin backing of this CDV I would date it in the early
1860s or even late 1850s.

I always check the back (verso) of a CDV because the photographer’s mark can provide great clues to its age. First, when was the photographer in business? Look for the photographer's printed address on the back of the card, then research the known dates of his studios.

Second, check the logo itself. In general an 1860s verso has a simple logo and writing, similar to an ink stamp. From1865-1868 logos changed to a design in the middle. Sometimes ribbons, scrolls and other decorations can be seen. Usually there is a “Copies can be had” statement

Organizing, Cataloging & Storing CDVs

The first thing I do when I bring a CDV Photo Album home is to photograph every page of the album, including covers. I want to preserve the images of each CDV as they are placed in the album, as I will be removing the CDVs from their mounts and album pages. I also assign the album a letter combination (usually the first 3 letters of whatever family name is most prevalent in the album).

A pre 1872 CDV with square corners. This woman is dressed
in her Sunday best with an ornate hat, gloves and gorgeous ruffles
on her bell-shaped skirt. Note the interesting and unusual pose
with one glove off and one glove on as she leans casually back
against the pillar. The wide hoop skirt and full sleeves
indicate Civil War era.

Next I carefully remove each CDV. This requires a steady hand and great patience. You must find tools which work for you and which will not harm either the album pages or the CDVs. It is a laborious task but cannot be rushed. As I remove each CDV, I assign it a number-letter combination and record its details from both front and back (verso).

Each album is labeled in pencil in the back inside cover with its letter combination I have given it. I also number the album for a binder I keep with a paper record of each album, its number, its letter combination designation and a list of all the photos from it. After carefully removing all the CDVs and other images from the album, I either display it in my collections cabinets, or I put it in storage for the possible day when I might reunite the original photos and the album again. For example some museums have expressed interest in specific albums in my collection. Those will have their CDVs placed back in the album in the original slots, and then it will be donated to the museum at some time in the future.

Once all the CDVs have been removed and cataloged, I begin scanning them. I scan both front and back at 300 dpi. After the technical work (removal of CDVs, assigning numbers, recording details, scanning) is complete, I get down to the fun stuff – dating each image as best I can. This can take hours or days for each image.

In this CDV we see a tighter fitting sleeve with cuff, defined waist
with belt and large full skirt. Notice the pockets, big enough for a
lady-like hanky, also the watch with chain tucked under the
wide belt at her waist. She holds her Sunday hat in her hand,
revealing the hairstyle which was fashionable - middle part and
tightly pulled back to cover the ears.
This CDV may be from 1870-1872.

I then store each image in acid-free plastic sleeves and with a special pen, I mark on the sleeve the letter-number combination I have given the image. This allows me to find all images that belong to a specific album at any time in the future.

I also note the estimated date I believe the photograph was taken. This allows me to sort the CDVs into any type of grouping I choose – by date, by subject (men vs women vs children vs soldiers, etc), by type of pose (standing, sitting, head and shoulders), by photographer – the choice is mine. I usually sort into men vs women vs children vs families vs couples vs soldiers, then by type of pose (standing, sitting, head and shoulders), then chronologically.

Photograph: Beautifully gowned woman in Civil War period. The sleeves are full and wide, and artfully arranged to display at their best. A Civil War era Photo Album sits on the table.

When I first decided I needed to organize my collection of over 3,000 CDVs, I used special archival binders with acid free sheets, each sheet holding 9 CDVs. This did not work well as it meant I could not label the outside of each CDV pouch, as I might later wish to rearrange the order of I might find another CDV that needed to be inserted in the middle. For me, individual acid free clear sleeves work best for sorting as I can label them and rearrange the order easily.

I spend hours poring over these beautiful photos of times past, thinking about the people forever frozen in a moment – people who lived, loved and cried just as we do. My hope is that I’ve preserved them for future generations of descendants who will cherish them as I do.

Article & Photographs
Copyright © 2008
Lorine McGinnis Schulze

You may purchase reprints of any ancestors you find at Olive Tree Genealogy. Feeling lucky? Albums may be viewed online at Lost Faces.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Close Encounters Of The Best Kind

May 29 in a Many Things Thursday post, From A Simple Postcard, I wrote about a postcard I had found in an antiques store in Missoula, Montana. I took the postcard and researched its owner, Grace Mathewson, and her family.

While wandering the web, Andy Graybeal bumped into that article. Andy is Grace's nephew, the son of her older sister Alice. Andy is an illustrator and designer in Mountain View, California, and authors a blog called Andy's Random Recollections, described as a memoir with periodic updates, beginning at the bottom. The blog is filled with information and photographs. My favorite post is, Required Reading: Random Recollections while I Still Remember Anything, which includes a photograph of E.P. Mathewson holding Andy.

Andy wrote to Shades and very kindly filled in more of the blanks for our readers.

What a surprise to see this blog! Grace was the second child of Edward and Alice Mathewson. Her sister Alice, the eldest, was my mother.

Grace was Miss Personality of the family when eligible young men were invited to call. My dad, Edward V. Graybeal, another young mining engineer, came to call on one of these occasions and when he came into the room, my mother whispered to Grace, "This one's MINE!"

What an amazing discovery! I wonder if her daughter Barbara overlooked the stash of postcards when cleaning out Grace's home on Brook Street. Incidentally, Grace's daughter Barbara and son Dave are still around.

Grandpa Mathewson left a whole shelf full of photo albums-pictures of mining and smelting operations in South America and Mexico taken in the early 20th century. I turned them over to the U of Arizona when we cleaned out our mother's garage. I have copies of the photos of more general interest.

Grandpa was responsible for many improvements on the basic reverberatory furnace used in copper smelting. At the time he was GM of the Washoe Reduction Works, he could boast of the lowest cost per ton in the production of copper metal.

We have an album full of post cards from trips as well. His last contract was in 1936-'37 for a smelter near to Hong Kong. He had colleagues in Japan dating from an earlier job in 1923 whom he visited on the way over. They advised him to discourage the Chinese from building the plant as war drums were indicating it would be captured by and used for the Japanese war machine. He convinced his clients of the veracity of this warning. Grandpa died in Tucson in July of 1948.

Grace . . . lived in Missoula all her adult life and was, before she died at 97 the oldest living alumna of the U of Montana, having graduated in 1916.

Edward Payson Mathewson, (Grandpa to me,) as you discovered was the general manager of the Washoe Reduction Works in Butte. The family lived in Anaconda.

Alice Mathewson, (Grandma) had six children, Alice, Grace, Gertrude, Margaret (died in infancy) Mary Elizabeth and Edward Jr. They were originally from Montreal,and EPM, upon graduating from McGill University, sought employment as a metallurgist and started an illustrious career in that field at Pueblo (CO) Smelting Co. in the assay office.

It was in Pueblo where Alice and Grace were born. E.P.Mathewson worked for the Amalgamated Copper Company, later the Anaconda Copper Co. for 14 years. He became general manager of what was then the largest smelter in the world and developed improvements on the reverberatory furnaces which could run 24/7 even during maintenance, leading to the lowest cost for extracting copper in the industry.

He was also sympathetic to the plight of the workers and was at odds with the owners and their anti-union tactics. His departure from that job had much to do with his position.

His profession took him and sometimes the entire family to such places as Chile, Peru, Mexico, Burma, Japan and China. He served as president of the American Institute of Mining & Metallurgical Engineers in 1923 while an independent consultant in New York City before retiring in Tucson, AZ as a professor of mining administration at the U. of Arizona.

Andy, what a wealth of information you possess. Thank you for sharing this with us. Please keep writing!

I do have one question for you. Do you have any information about the fire at the Arlington Hotel in Santa Barbara? I would love to know more about what happened.

~ Wander The Web ~
You Never Know Who You Might Bump Into


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Vitascope - Twice Told Tuesday

Twice Told Tuesday features a photography related article reprinted from
my collection of old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.

When pictures began to come to life. What would our ancestors have thought of today's films?

Demorest's Family Magazine
September 1896

The people of New York City are being entertained this summer by the vitascope, which the Wizard Edison has evolved from his kinetoscope. The vitascope, in fact, may be called an enlarged and and improved kinetoscope. By means of it life-size pictures of human being and of nature which have been photographed by the kinetoscope are thrown upon a screen and given all the action they had when the scene transpired.

One may see, for example, a procession of soldiers, or a street scene with cabs and trucks and people passing to and fro, or the waves rolling ceaselessly upon the beach; or the waters of Niagara as they flow over the falls and plunge into the abyss. The vividness and realism of these moving pictures is startling, yet the contrivance by which they are produced is comparatively simple.

The vitascope consists of a small photographic lens, a metal frame about an inch and a half square over which the pictures pass just behind the lens, a larger lens behind the frame, and last of all, behind the large lens, an electric light of two thousand candle-power. The pictures which are to be produced have been photographed on kinetoscope films and are not larger than the little finger nail. To the number of several hundred, or until the scene has been sufficiently portrayed, they pass in rapid succession between the lenses, and are magnified six hundred times when thrown upon the screen.

Mr. Edison is now experimenting with a view to combining the vitascope and the phonograph, so that the action of the scene may be perceived and the sound which accompanies it heard at the same time. The possibilities of the combined phonograph and vitascope are very great. Plays could be presented, sermons and lectures delivered, and performances on musical instruments given, with nothing lacking, despit the fact that the performers are remote from the place of representation.

*Vitascope: A moving series of photographs, giving the appearance of a living picture.



Unknown. "The Vitascope." Demorest's Family Magazine. September 1896. pg. 654.


Unknown. “[Edison's greatest marvel--The Vitascope.]” Poster. New York : Metropolitan Print Company, c1896. From Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. (accessed July 9, 2008).