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

Daguerreotype Dangers

In 1842, the French playwright and author Honore de Balzac posed for a daguerreotype. The realistic nature of this reflective image led him to declare that he'd never pose for another. He thought it would steal a bit of his soul each time. Honore de Balzac, by Bisson, 1842 There are many tribes who believe (or believed) this to be the case.  So did this idea spring up spontaneously in various cultures around the world ... Continue Reading

President John Tyler’s Grandsons are Alive!

President John Tyler Snopes is one of the first place we go to verify an online rumor.  Susan Louer sent me a link to a claim that President John Tyler's grandsons are still alive.  Tyler was president from 1841 to 1845.  That is no typo.  It's actually true. As genealogists we know that the length of a generation can vary from family to family.  In Tyler's family that's a really long generation.  All it takes ... 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

A 160-Year-Old Photographic Mystery

I wrote about early color images in Family Tree Magazine in the March 2010 issue. Here's a story about Levi Hill, one of photo history's most intriguing people. He claimed to find a way to make daguerreotypes in color. This is from the Smithsonian Magazine. A 160-Year-Old Photographic Mystery 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

Props in Pictures: World’s Oldest Watch

You never know what you're going to find in a picture be it a photo or a painting. In this case, experts think they've found the oldest example of a watch in a painting of Cosimo I de Medici, the Duke of Florence. It was painted in 1560. What objects have you seen depicted in your photographs? Send me an email and let me know. 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

Ask Maureen: What’s the Worst Photo Album?

Whenever I present my lecture on Preserving Family Photographs I'm asked the same question, "What the worst type of photo album?" The answer is magnetic photo albums. They aren't really magnetic, but the glue strips or dots on the acid paper pages acts like one. Your photos STICK to the page and you have trouble removing them. Over time the glue will stain your images. While I don't advise taking apart family photo albums, when ... Continue Reading