Monday, March 10, 2014

I purchase old photographs from my hometown of Traverse City on Ebay. They come from all over the country. I am perplexed at how they end up for sale- I suppose some are left behind in storage units. Others belonged to people whose relatives were not interested in old family stuff. I've known of both things happening.

Some of the photos have the names of the people on them, written on their back. Those are great because I can research them and sometimes contact relatives and send them the scanned image.

Most are unidentified, although in several cases I have been able to determine who they were- once because I ended up with one photo of a couple and then purchased two more photos of the woman. In the other case, I happened to have seen a man's photo in another source.

I have researched the photo studios and that allows me provide rough dates for when they were taken. The Boswell studio operated from about 1900 to 1906. 

As I accumulate photos, I am seeing the same props and backgrounds used over and over again. The McManus studios used this fence, gate, and grass matting prop in the 1890s for the photos above and below.

I'm hoping that with enough dated photos, I can develop a better dating system using the props, backgrounds, and photographer's marks. 

Eventually I will donate the collection to the historical society in Traverse City, where they can be cared for.

If you have old photographs like these, I hope you are asking your older relatives who the people are, scanning them, and sharing them with your other relatives, so that they do not end up as nameless images on Ebay.

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