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

Ask Maureen: Ambrotype Marks

Merry wrote in with a question about marks on an ambrotype: I'm doing some photo detective work of my own--if I have a cased, sealed ambrotype with a stamped mat (E.R. Perkins), can I assume that the photographer was probably the person stamped on the mat? That might help me narrow down where the picture was taken, right? Congratulations on researching your photos! If you have a cased image such as an ambrotype with a ... Continue Reading

Retouched Photos in the Family Album

This week Time Magazine ran an article on the top ten doctored pictures including the famous Matthew Brady image of the Civil War generals. Matthew Brady may have been the most proficient but he certainly wasn't the only nineteenth century photographer changing the appearance of an image. Take this family group from the late 1890s. I posted a short video online on Vimeo a few months ago. The woman in the back stands out. She's ... Continue Reading