Sunday, October 13, 2013

Society Saturday-What I Learned at Our Last Meeting

  Instead of a Genealogical Society in my small town we have a Genealogy Club. We meet once a month at a local library and have scheduled speakers on various topics. Most of the members do not have ancestors that they are researching locally but are either "Snow Birds" or retiree's from other states.
  For our September meeting we were fortunate to have a local photographer come and speak to us about the history of photography.We were told that he was very knowledgeable about the subject and that we should bring any old photos that we needed help in dating.
 Well, I knew right away which photo to bring. Last March I wrote about a mystery picture in this post:
Celebrating Women's History Month: Day 2-Mystery Picture
  Arriving at the library a few minutes early gave me a chance to speak to the photographer before his presentation. He saw my picture and told me that he was glad that I had brought it. He said he would like to use it as part of his presentation and he would tell me then what he thought about the possible time frame in which it was taken. I was excited to see what he had to say.
  The presentation was very well done. Clearly the presenter knew his stuff and had many examples of old photo's. He was able to explain the history of photography and explain the various photo types over the years.
  During his lecture, the photographer came over to me and picked up my picture. He said that he was happy to have an example of a "Crayon Portrait". He explained that photographers would take original pictures or negatives, colorize them with crayons or chalks and then blow the picture up. Many of them were produced in the same oval shape as mine was. This process was done on new pictures as well as older family photo's, sometimes many years after the original was taken.
 If a photographer in the area was not doing Crayon Paintings, often Door to Door Salesman would come and sell the service from out of town photographers. They would take the original and send it away to be made. The owners usually did not get their originals back.
 That makes me wonder what they did with the originals? Are there piles of old pictures in storage rooms of what were once old photo shops?
 In looking at the clothing worn by the woman in the picture he said that, in his opinion, her dress was like those worn in the 1880's and that it was most likely taken during that time frame.  Her family probably then gave the original to a photographer in the early 1900's to become a Crayon Portrait.
 This was great information! I had previously thought her dress looked pre-1900's but with the type of picture I felt it couldn't have been taken that early.
 I have a couple of other pictures from what may be the same family (they were found in the same attic) that were taken in about 1918. I had wondered if they had been taken at the same time. Except for the dress.The only thing I could think of was that she just didn't like the fashions of the day and simply wore an out of style dress!! Now it all makes sense.

Sarah Rebecca Smith Flemming Hudson ?
Copy of original owned by Cheri Hudson Passey
©Cheri Hudson Passey

 I still don't know if this portrait is of Sarah Rebecca Smith Flemming Hudson (1835-1916) but I do have some new clues. If the picture was taken in the 1880's, Sarah would have been in her mid 40's to early 50's. It's hard to judge the age of the woman in the picture but I feel that it could be a woman of the same description. Maybe? Or maybe I just want it to be!
   Learning about different photography styles through the years at my Gene Club meeting certainly shed some light on my mystery picture. If you don't belong to a society or club I encourage everyone to do so. No Club or Society where you live? Then start one! There is so much to learn as we meet and collaborate with others. It's a good thing!

©Cheri Hudson Passey


  1. Cheri - I've never heard of Crayon Portraits. Thanks for sharing the history. I'm with you, Where are all those original pics?

  2. So glad that I went to my club meeting and learned about it too! I appreciate you reading my post!
    Thanks Cindy!