Friday, October 18, 2013

Faded photographs: Among the unknowns

Organizing vintage photographs will be among my tasks during the off-season at the museum while Curator Marilyn Johnson is up to her ears in reorganization of the west gallery and Museum Associate Kathleen Dittmer takes on documents and photographs related to Lucas County schools. I picked the easiest task, but that's the way in goes.

One of the frustrations is the fact that so many of our images are of unidentified people. Remember the directive, "always write names on the backs of photographs"? The truth is, for so long as there have been photographs, most have known they should do this --- but didn't.

So the goal is to arrange "orphaned" --- not related to a family collection --- unknowns into archival binder boxes so that we can invite (or force) guests to look through them in the hope of recognizing familiar faces. Most of these photos are more than a century old and the subjects have long since departed, but chances are there are duplicates of these photos somewhere in family collections. So the occasional identity may turn up.

Here are two of the orphans, both given to the museum during 2006 by Rose Holmes. She had no idea who they were and neither do we, but they're great images.

What in the world, for example, is the young man at the top of this post up to? He's wearing a straw hat and gloves and holding a beaker of some sort. But why?

I can tell this photo was taken prior to 1904 because the photographic studio responsible for it, Simmons, was located in the Mallory Opera Block, which burned during January of that year. Beyond that, it's a mystery.

And how about this young lady, dressed elaborately for winter? I recognize the pedestal next to her --- it appears in many images produced by Best, including those of members of my own family. But who is she?

If by some miracle anyone recognizes these two, post a comment here --- or on Facebook, where links will appear.

And I think we'll be posting more of our orphans on the Lucas County Historical Society's Facebook page this winter, so stay tuned.

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