Weekend at the Museum: Historic Threads: Three Centuries of Clothing

In honor of the National Genealogical Society Conference in Richmond, Virginia in May I've selected an exhibit on the Colonial Williamsburg site. This online exhibit lets viewers take a visual stroll through their costume collection in Historic Threads: Three Centuries of Clothing.  A beautiful piece of embroidery provides the backdrop for two choices--learn about the clothing or view pieces from their collection.  I chose to look at the exhibit. A caption and description accompanies each ... Continue Reading

Photographic Albums

Our ancestors initially used plain paper albums to arrange their photographs with captions written underneath until commercially manufactured albums became available. These albums figured prominently in the decorating scheme of nineteenth century parlors and were displayed beside the family bible for visitors to view. Often, the albums contain the name of the owner. Mid-nineteenth century photo albums often resembled bibles.These nineteenth century albums evolved from scrapbook pages to pre-cut albums back to scrapbooks. As albums ... Continue Reading

Cover Story: 18th Century Hair Fun

  I never imagined that hair history would be so interesting.  In the March/April 2010 issue of the DAR magazine American Spirit you can read about hair in the Revolutionary War period. You won't believe it! Continue Reading

Missing Pictures: Rebecca Mayo, Revolutionary War Widow

Sometimes the hunt for a photograph is so frustrating! One of the more than 6,000 Revolutionary War widows collecting a pension was Rebecca Mayo of Newbern, Pulaski County, Virginia. She married Stephen Mayo in 1834 when she was just a young woman and Mayo was 77. The Boston Daily Globe ran a story about her on July 6, 1904 (page 6), "Mrs. Mayo of Virginia is a Revolutionary Widow." There were only two widows left ... Continue Reading

My Dad Would Be Surprised

Last summer I researched and wrote an article on the history of wallpaper for the Daughters of the American Revolution magazine, American Spirit. The story, "Repeating Patterns: Wallpaper in Early American Homes" appeared in the November/December 2008 issue. My interest in wallpaper is a familial thing. My family had a wallpapering business back in the 1870s and each successive generation of men learned the trade. My Dad, James William Taylor, Jr. was the last in ... Continue Reading

Ask Maureen: Photo Reunions

Patience wrote: I found a stack of quite good portrait photos from the late 1800's - mostly from California but also from NY, Minnesota, Indiana. Only a very few have names of whose photo it is - but almost all of them have the name of the photography studio. What would be the best way for me to seek out family members who may have lost them? One of my favorite websites is DeadFred.com. Individuals ... Continue Reading

Ask Maureen: Scanning Surprises

On a recent trip, a client showed me black and white scans of some tintypes. Recently he emailed me to say he'd scanned the images in color. To his surprise the scanning highlighted the fact that the photographer had colored some of the details. He wrote to ask if that was possible. The answer is yes! Photographers often added color to images, including tintypes. Watch for color in eyes, cheeks, lips and jewelry. Those little ... Continue Reading

Civil War Women

There is a new book on women in the Civil War and this one doesn't talk about their contributions on the home front. Anita Silvey's I'll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War(Clarion, 2008), explores how some women dressed as men and joined the war effort. It's meant for children, but it was so fascinating I couldn't put it down. I've seen occasional pictures of nineteenth century female soldiers but had no ... Continue Reading

Ask Maureen: Foreign Photos

Mel wrote: I have a photo that I believe is European, do you analyze non-US images? Actually, I do. I receive photographs from clients that live as far away as New Zealand. Family collections in the United States are a mix of images taken here and overseas. I maintain a large collection of foreign images for comparison purposes. Continue Reading

Ask Maureen: Storing Photographs

Catherine wrote: I have several old paper photos that date between the late 1860s and the early 1900s. I am worried about how to store these. Is it o.k. to put these in a plastic zip-loc bag or are there other alternatives. You're right to question the use of ordinary plastic bags. They are not suitable for long-term storage of photographs. For instance, Hollinger Corporation sells a wide variety of non-pvc sleeves and storage materials ... Continue Reading