Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Take a Picture, Tell a Story!

This is one of my favorite family pictures. I love the homespun quality of the clothing. I love the practicality of the woman's hairstyle. I love the stoic stance of the little man huddled close to his mother. I love every last button on the baby boots. (How did they get them buttoned?) Only problem was that we didn't know who was in the picture. We poured over family records trying to match the hairstyle and clothing to a family with a little boy who was around four year's old and his sister...maybe two? Nothing matched. Little did we know that it was common in the 1800's for little boys to be dressed, well, in dresses. That fact, along with a helpful uncle at a family reunion led us to identify this picture as Kevin's Great-great-grandmother, Mary Christina Israelson, born 1 July 1832 in Christvalle Sogen, Sweden. A great-granddaughter, Ardelle Hogan Mills beautifully completes the memory of GreatX2 Gamma.
"Grandma was not a beautiful woman, if one judges only features. Her nose was a bit too broad, her eyes rather pale and a bit dreamy, but oh so kind, and her cheeks bones a trifle high. She combed her white hair straight back. Her little old bent shoulders had gradually slumped with hard work and trouble. Although small and nonofficiousl, her influence of love, kindness, and patience were felt by young and old. Never was there a more grateful person than Grandma. Those who knew her loved her, and to them her dear old face was beautiful because her soul was beautiful."

Did you know that in the nineteenth century, a smile was considered a frivolous expression and therefore, inappropriate for a formal portrait? Or that holding a book in the photograph indicated that the subject was well-educated? And sometimes little boys wore dresses? Every portrait tells a story. Search old family photographs for clues about your ancestors. How did they want to be remembered?

Capture your life experiences for future posterity. Plan for a family portrait. Have each family member include an object that reflects their personality. Pick clothing that reflects your ethnic heritage or the current fashion. Give careful consideration to the location of the photo shoot. Above all...don't forget to include the date, subject(s) and location on the back of the picture!

Oh, the cute little 'girl' on the woman's lap...that's Kevin's great-grandfather.

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