2011-04-16

dee_burris: (Default)
2011-04-16 13:16

Sepia Saturday: Dating some photos from the Williams family album...

Being unwilling to continue to tear my hair out to at least date these unlabeled photos, I was very intrigued by this post in Katherine's blog, Atlantic Roots.

So I ordered my very own copy of Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900, by Joan Severa.

It arrived yesterday.

So you know how I spent my Friday night.


I think I have much closer dates for two photos, after studying the photos in the book, as well as the excellent narrative Severa gives about other fashion clues, such as hairstyles.

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This is my great-grandmother, Maxie Leah (Meek) Williams. I'm going to date this photo about 1886 (she married on 11 Feb 1886) due to the rounded bodice of the dress, as well as the collar, and the hint of the bustle on the back of the dress.

Many bodices of this period had tight sleeves cut short on the forearm and featuring cuffs or half-cuffs. (Source: Dressed for the Photographer, at page 378.)

Severa goes on to say, In eighties photographs all bodices appear corset-fitted, many with very high standing collars. Similarly, sleeves are set very high, with the armscye cut somewhat in from the point of the shoulder in back, and are extremely tight... (Id., at page 379.)

There are also dating clues in the way she wore her hair. ...In the matter of coifure, the hair will be worn a good deal lower on the neck than it has been for some two seasons past...The style of dressing the front hair remains unchanged [in curled bangs]. (Id., at page 385.)


The puff sleeves on the dress and much shorter and tightly curled bangs make me think this photo was taken in the very late 1890's, and that theory is supported by the listing of the photographer, Jno H Ganner of Russellville, in the 1900 Arkansas Business Directory.

I believe this is still Maxie Leah, but do not have a clue as to the identity of her younger companion.

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This book is making a formerly dreaded chore much more fun.

This is a Sepia Saturday post.