Thursday, July 25, 2013

Look beyond a photo's image for clues about your family

We are usually trying to interpret the content of the photos of our ancestors. We try to determine the time period from clothes and hair styles Costumes may tell us something about fraternal groups or other organizations they belonged to.

But sometimes just the existence of photos can tell us a story, too.

Hazel Lee Pierce (1905-1985, standing) and Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977), daughters of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce and Julia L. Moody, pose in their finest dresses for this studio photo .

The photo was taken at the Novelty Studio (Boyles Branch), 205 Dauphin St., Mobile, Alabama.

Bonie and Julia seem to have regularly traveled the 25 miles from their farm in Wilmer to downtown Mobile to have their children professionally photographed. They left studio photos of all of their children.

This practice would seem to show that the rural couple had the money and the desire to spend it on little luxuries such as a trip into town and a session in a photo studio.

Do the types of photos your ancestors left behind tell you anything about them and their lives?

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  1. Ralph,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks, Jana! I appreciate your support.

  2. The studio photo was a big deal in our family, too, especially in the early to mid-1900s. It's as if it were a necessity and not a luxury, especially for children. Nearly everyone in my maternal grandmother's line had studio portraits. Since the late 20th century, thought, this hasn't happened as often. School pictures and engagement pictures and the ever-present iPhone have taken the place of studio pictures. But they certainly do mark a particular period!!

    Very thoughtful post. Thanks!