Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dating Old Photographs :: Becky's Mystery Photograph #9

A lady said she wished to be taken two ways, "standing in her hat and sitting in her cap." As you please, but it is not usual for ladies to stand in their bonnets, and it would ruin your cap to sit in it.

- Abraham Bogardus, Photographer 1895

Here is a dating analysis of the photograph that Becky at kinexxions has listed as Mystery Photo #9. Note: I wanted to practice on a photograph I was not familiar with as the subject of my analysis.

News Flash! Becky has added a color scan of Mystery Photo #9 and card attributes in the comments section of this post. Thanks Becky!


What is known about the photograph?

Card Measures - 2 3/8 x 4 1/16
The corners of the card are rounded
Photographer – J. E. Walton, Vevay, Ind.
No tax stamp on back
Color of card is unknown
Imprint on back
Portrait – Standing young woman
Prop - column
Hairstyle - Bangs – slightly curly with Chignon
Costume – description below


Category: Photographer

J. E. Walton, Vevay, Ind.


Need to check directories for Walton, photographer. No source found online.

1870 Census – Switzerland County, Indiana
J. E., Joe E., Joseph C., or Joseph E. Walton – Photographer - None found.

1880 Census – Switzerland County, Indiana
Joe E. Walton – photographer

1900 Census - Switzerland County, Indiana
Joseph C. Walton – photographer

1910 Census – Switzerland County, Indiana
Joseph E. Walton – photographer, own studio


-Not listed 1870 census – census taken June 1870
-Listed as a photographer 1880 census - census taken 8 June 1880

The dates Walton became a photographer in Vevay, Indiana could have been sometime after June 1870 – and on or before 8 June 1880.


Category: Card Measurement

2 3/8 x 4 1/16


Carte-de-Visite's, or CdV's, an albumen print measuring 2 ½ by 3 ½ mounted to a card measuring 2 ½ by 4 1/2. Introduced in the mid-1850's, popular in America and Europe from 1860 until almost the turn of the century.


This is a CdV. Date at least mid-1850’s.


Category: Card Thickness

1858 to 1869 - .010 to .020 inches (.5mm or less)

1869 to 1887 - .020 to .030 inches (.5mm)

1880 to 1900 -.030 to .040 inches (.75mm)

1890 to 1910 Greater than .040 inches (1mm)


Card needs to be measured with caliper.


No conclusion

If you don't have a caliper Andrew J. Morris has an alternative method for measuring using 20 lb. bond. It can be found here.


Category: Corners

The corners of the card are rounded


William C. Darrah in Cartes De Visite In Nineteenth Century Photography suggests:

1858 - 1871 square corners generally
1871 – 1910 rounded corners were generally used
1902 – 1910 rounded corners again in fashion


Here rounded corners – most likely 1871 – 1910.


Category: Color of Card




1858 - 1869 white cards (can be darker or yellow due to age)

1871-74 white on thicker card stock

1861-66 Gray or tan card stock

1869-74 Yellow

1872-80 Gray on thicker card stock

1902-1910 Soft gray on very thick card stock


No determination - color not conclusive.


Category: Framing Motif

Front of card is plain lacking ornamentation.


Some early CDV's have one or more narrow lines around the front edges that frame the area where the picture is pasted on the card stock.

Darrah discusses four types of framing motif:

Simple oval frame of one or more lines
Oval frame with decorative elements
Oval frame with hanging tassels and cord
Ornate rectangular frame


No framing motif


Category: Tax Stamp

No tax stamp


Aug 1864 - 1 Aug 1866 stamps required for photographs sent through the mail.
Stamp determined by the cost of the card. 2 cents for cards costing less than a quarter; 3 cents for cards costing 26 cents - 50 cents; and 5 cents for cards costing 51 cents - a dollar.
March 1865 one-cent stamp for cards costing 10 cents or less
March 1865 - 1 Aug 1866 one-cent stamp


No stamp, can't determine if 1864 – 1866, only positive of date if mailed.


Category: Card Back

Three lines
Three different type fonts
Decorative enclosure for the word photographer


Simple – length-wise
J. E. Walton
Vevay, Ind.


Simple imprints on the back of the card, consisting of small typeset characters were used from 1860 to 1867.

1860-62 single line imprint
1861-66 two or three lines
These two or three line imprints usually have statements such as "Duplicates can be had" or "negatives preserved"
1861-62 the above statements are missing
1863-67 three or more lines, with larger type characters additional information
1863-65 curved lines of text with curved lines and curlicues between and around them
1868-82 larger simple imprints, usually lengthwise on the back of the card (parallel to the longer edge, often one line of print at an angle to that line)
1870-1900 Typeset imprints with fancier font-types, and often-different fonts for each line, and sometimes a few curlicue lines between or below the text lines


Simple imprint 1870-1900.


Category: Portrait



1860 – 1890 standing (least reliable method of dating)


May be 1860 – 1890


Category: Background/Props:



1860-70 or later - standing figure with balustrades or steps in the background (may include columns). Darrah suggests that a drape or column behind a standing figure yields a range of 1860-68. The use of the prop probably continued much later. Here the subject leans on the column.


May be 1860 – 1870 or much later


Category: Hairstyle

Bangs – slightly curly


Hairstyle worn in the 1880’s


Fashion and hair are not always reliable.
Time Period 1880 - 1890


Category: Costume

Suit composed of a fitted jacket with velvet front piece over a draped overskirt. Jacket fitted, slight V-shape in the front. Draped apron overskirt, gathered high and puffed at the back into the extreme supported bustle shape, corset. Small buttons in the front on velvet.

Sleeves are set high on the shoulder and tight on the arm. Short at the wrist, where velvet cuffs extend to the wrist.


Clothing follows the fashion found in 1880’s.

Children – Young Women:
The 1880’s - Up to 12 yrs. skirts worn short (below the knee)
– 12 yrs. skirt reached boot top
– 14 or 15 yrs. reached the same length as adult women
– 16 yrs. tightly fitted boned garment full length.


Clothing worn in the style of the 1880’s. Subject at least 16 years old as this is a fitted boned garment that appears to be full length.

Fashion and hair are not always reliable, but here consistent with 1880 - 1890.


Category: Jewelry

No wedding ring
Brooch at the throat (perhaps initial)
Light colored cord at the throat with cameo or photo locket and tassels.


Corded jewelry – 1880’s


No ring:
Susanna – married 1882
Elizabeth – married 1895

Other jewelry consistent with time period 1880 – 1890.


Who’s In The Photograph? Susanna or Elizabeth

Note: More precise card and photographer information is needed.

Susanna Wiseman

Born August 2, 1850
Married April 8, 1882 (age 32 when married)
Elizabeth Detraz
Born June 27, 1871
Married December 23, 1895 (age 24 when married)


1866 - 16 yrs. old (clothing analysis of children)
1870 – 20 yrs. old (Photographer in business after June 1870 on or before 8 June 1880)
1880 - 30 yrs. old (hairstyle & clothing 1880’s)
1882 – 32 yrs. old (date of marriage – wear ring after this date)


1870 – Not born (Photographer in business after June 1870 on or before 8 June 1880)
1880 - 9 yrs. old (would have been wearing children’s clothing)
1887 – 16 yrs. old (clothing analysis of children)
1895 – 24 yrs. old (date of marriage – wear ring after this date)


Analysis of the information I have for the card itself is consistent with either Susanna or Elizabeth being the subject of the portrait.

Age requirements of the subject of the portrait are that she must be at least 16 yrs. of age to be consistent with clothing analysis for young women (tightly fitted boned garmet - 16 yrs. of age). Susanna was 16 yrs. old in 1866 and Elizabeth was 16 yrs. old in 1887.

However, the clothing, hairstyle, and jewelry are consistent with 1880's.

Therefore, Susanna could only be the subject of the photograph from 1880 - 1882 as she was married in 1882 (no wedding ring in photograph). Susanna would have been 30 yrs. old in 1880, 31 yrs. old in 1881, and 32 yrs. old in 1882. Subject of the photograph does not appear to be 30 - 31 years old. Probably not a photograph of Susanna.

Elizabeth could only be the subject of the photograph from 1887 - 1895 as she was 16 yrs. old in 1887 and married in 1895 (no wedding ring in photograph). Subject of the photograph could be 16 - 24 yrs. old. More likely a photograph of Elizabeth.

Note: This analysis includes some assumptions. The subject is either Susanna or Elizabeth and not someone else. As married women they received a wedding ring.


Darrah, William Culp. Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: William C. Darrah, 1981.

Doyle, Marian. An Illustrated History of Hairstyles 1830-1930. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2003.

Gersheim, Alison. Victorian and Edwardian Fashion, A Photographic Survey. New York, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1981.

Mace, O. Henry. Collector's Guide to Early Photographs. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1999.

McCulloch, Lou W. Card Photographs, A Guide to Their History and Value. Exton, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1981.

Moorshead, Halvor (Editor), and Jeff Chapman (Editor). Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Family Chronicle, 2000.

Pols, Robert. Family Photographs, 1860-1945: A Guide to Researching, Dating and Contextuallising Family Photographs. Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK: Public Record Office Publications, 2002.

Setnik, Linda. Victorian Costume for Ladies. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2000.

Severa, Joan. Dressed for the Photographer. Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840 -1900. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995.

Taylor, Maureen A. Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs. Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2005.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Get Organized :: Store Information Directly In Your Photographs

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-19393

Here is a photograph I found in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog of the Library of Congress. I'm using this photograph in a project I'm writing on Early Photographers in Washington Territory and Washington State. The photograph will be used to illustrate why our ancestors may have looked uncomfortable in those old family photographs.

I attached all the information I have regarding this photograph directly to the image. This is accomplished by using the "File information" (also called metadata) capability found in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. I stored the bibliographic entry and information about the description, keywords, sources, credits, and URLs for the photograph.

Using this function streamlines my workflow, organizes my files, and makes searches for a specific photograph easier. It works equally well for photographs archived on my computer, external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and photos taken by a digital camera.

"File info" is found under File in the photoshop main menu.

File information or metadata is information about the photograph, such as its author, resolution, color space, copyright, and keywords. All you ever wanted to know about your photos and metadata can be found in the blog post Sharpen Your Pencil, found at Family Matters.

Here is how I create a custom fill of the file information for my photographs. I am using the above photograph as my example.

Document Title: [A photographer appears to be photographing himself in a photographic studio]

This is the title of the photograph given to it by the online catalog.

Author: A.H. Wheeler

This is the photographer’s name, if known, or listed as unknown if not known.

Author Title: Photographer

This is just the designation – photographer.


Wheeler, A.H., photographer. “[A photographer appears to be photographing himself in a photographic studio]
Photograph. Berlin, Wis.: A.H. Wheeler, c1893. From Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division. (accessed July 13, 2007).

This is the bibliographic entry for this photograph. I only have to write the entry once. When creating a bibliography for my project all I have to do is copy and paste the entry.

Description Writer: Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-19393

This is the credit line requested by the online catalog.

Keywords: Washington State and Territory Photographer; LOC; Photographer; Studio

These are the keywords for a search of my computer files. I listed the name of the project in which I will be using the photograph, the online catalog, and any pertinent words – here photographer and studio.

Copyright Status: Public Domain

File info allows you to list the photograph’s copyright status and the copyright notice if there is one.

Copyright Info URL:

This is where I place the permanent URL for this photograph. If for some reason I need to return to the original I only have to select Go To URL…

Now all the pertinent information concerning the photograph has been attached directly to the image.

While this may seem like a lot of work (it's mostly drag and drop or copy and paste), it becomes second nature when done everytime you create or download an image. It also saves a great deal of time by only writing a bibliographic entry once and making searches simple.

Try it! You might like it.

Tip: If you want to find the bibliographic information for this photograph in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, enter the number (LC-USZ62-19393) from the description into the search bar and select “Search in number fields.” This will take you to the database section for bibliographic information.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bill and Lewis' Excellent Adventure

So you thought the first Coca Cola drinking bears were the polar bears in Coke's advertising campaign in 1993. Not so!

Let me introduce you to a pair of twin black bear cubs guzzling Coca Cola in 1926.

The Twins Feeding The Twins

This is one of my very favorite family photos of my father-in-law Lewis and his twin brother Bill. The photograph was taken to commemorate a trip by three generations of my husband’s family to Yellowstone National Park.

My father-in-law says the bears were kept just outside the park entrances in roadside attractions. You paid a fee, bought a bottle of coke, fed the bears, and took photographs.

I'm not the only one interested in this theme. Twin bear cubs held a fascination for Yellowstone Park as well. Frank J. Haynes produced this postcard of "The Twin Cubs" for the park service in about that same time period.

NPS Photo by Frank J. Haynes

The photograph of my father-in-law was taken during the summer of 1926. This is an educated guess. I believe it's summer because there is a fire danger sign in the background. Fire danger in Montana is predominately during the summer months. There is an old joke that goes something like this – When is summer in Montana? It depends on whether it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

The roads in the photograph are hard and dry. Travel for long distances by automobile in Montana in 1926 would have occurred during the summer, as roads were often impassible in the winter. My father-in-law and his parents would have been traveling from eastern Montana near the Canadian border and his grandparents would have been traveling from Salem, Oregon. This would have been a long trip and no Montanan would have attempted travel of this distance over roads in Montana in the winter. The 1925 photograph below shows ice beside the road and an automobile stuck in a rut in or near Yellowstone. The photograph was probably taken in the late spring.

NPS Photographer Unknown

The year of my photograph is most probably 1926. My father-in-law was unable to tell me when the photograph was taken. Originally, I had thought the license plate was a 1926 Montana plate, but after receiving the photograph below and blowing up just the license plate, I discovered it was an Oregon plate. An Internet search of Oregon plates revealed that the plate was issued in 1926. This would make the twins eight years old, as they were born in 1918. That looks correct.

In this photograph it appears the bear cub is mugging the baby (Del, 4 years old) for the coke bottle and grandma is coming to his rescue while yelling for help. Wild animals and babies couldn't have been a good combination.

Oh, and knowing my father-in-law, he and his brother are plotting how to skin the bears and get them in the car. My father-in-law was a taxidermist in later life.

Can't you just image how much Coca Cola the two cubs drank during the summer months? They must have had withdrawals in the winter, as Coca Cola didn't become cocaine free until 1929.[1]

What happened to them when they were no longer cute little bear cubs? Were they turned back into the wild? I doubt it. They didn't know how to fend for themselves and they were far too comfortable with humans, so I imagine their fate was sealed.

I know - so not politically correct, but a slice of Americana none the less.

[1] The Coca Cola Company maintains there were only trace amounts of cocaine in Coca Cola during the period of time these bear cubs were drinkers. There is an excellent article on Coca Cola and all its famous ingredients at the Golden Age Spotlight on Advertising.

Friday, July 20, 2007

To Post Or Not To Post :: That Is The Question

I have a terrific family photograph I'd like to share with you. It's non-PC Americana and rather unique.

So where's the photo?

Well, I don't hold the copyright to this photograph. (Come to think of it, I don't hold the copyright to any family photographs I own taken before 1970 and most taken after.)

I don't know who holds the copyright or if the photograph is in the public domain. I am not certain as to when the photograph was taken or who took it. Conventional genealogical wisdom would hold this is a questionable photograph and I should show you another.

But I love this photograph, I want you to see it, and there isn't another one like it in our family. So what am I to do?

I've given it a lot of thought and I invite you to join me in my thought process as I make a decision (legal - moral - common sense) to post or not to post.

What I know about this photograph:

-- It was given to me by my husband's family.
-- It is a photograph of my father-in-law with his twin brother.
-- It was a trip to Yellowstone with my father-in-law's parents and grandparents.
-- There is a license plate visible in the photo. Dark color with light lettering. One large number 9 is visible.
-- A fire danger sign is visible in the background.
-- It is not a studio or professional photograph, it is an early 1900's snapshot.
-- It is a black and white photograph.
-- My father-in-law's parents, grandparents, and twin are dead.

Assumptions I've made about this photograph:

-- The photo was taken by one of the parents or grandparents.
-- As the twins were born in 1918, they appear to be 5-12 years old in the photo.
-- The license plate is a Montana plate for the year 1926.

An internet search of all the Montana license plates for the 1900s returned only one that is dark in color with similar light lettering. That is the 1926 Montana License plate. It does not look exactly like the plate in my photograph, so the plate could be from another state, or there could be variations for the year. For the sake of argument I am going to assume the plate is for the year 1926. This would make the twins 8 years old which matches my earlier assumption.

Legal Implications:

Note: Trust me, I will not be attempting to recite, teach, explain or interpret Intellectual Property Law. It is far too difficult to explain the law of Intellectual Property in one page or less, so I'll leave it to the lawyers. Intellectual Property Law is a legal specialty, takes years of study, should be left to attorneys in that specialty, and shouldn’t be attempted without a net.

I will only be attaching some legal significance, as I understand it, to my photograph for the sake of discussion. When it comes to Intellectual Property Law, I know enough to know I don't know it all.

1926 photograph. Photographer unknown.

-- Published or unpublished. I don't know if my husband's family sold any copies of this photograph. They have sold photographs before for commercial use.

"Publication" was not explicitly defined in the Copyright Law before 1976, but the 1909 Act indirectly indicated that publication was when copies of the first authorized edition were placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed by the proprietor of the copyright or under his authority.”

If Published:

1923 through 1977 - Published without a copyright notice
In the public domain as of 1 January 2007

I will have to check registered copyrights to determine whether my father-in-law's parents or grandparents registered this photograph. If they didn't - it's in the public domain.

Registered copyrights:

Registration is required before filing suit for copyright infringement.

Still need to determine the copyright holder, still need to determine if its registered.

If Unpublished:

Life of the author + 70 years
Works from authors who died before 1937 are in the public domain as of 1 January 2007

My father-in-law's grandparents died before 1937. If one of them took the photograph it is in the public domain. My father-in-law's parents died after 1937. If one of them took the photograph it is not in the public domain unless it meets some of the other criteria.

Unpublished works when the death date of the author is not known - 120 years from date of creation. Works created before 1887 are in the public domain as of 1 January 2007.

The photograph was not taken before 1887, so if the photographer turns out to be unknown it is not in the public domain.

Now what? How confusing! Do I hire an attorney?

No Attorney and Here's Why:

As a Scot, I consider hiring an attorney in this specific instance to be a waste of precious money I could be spending on genealogical research. The opinion of an attorney is neither free nor cheap. Every day in every courtroom in this country there are two attorneys' opinions being argued. The court will determine that one of them is correct and one of them is not. So which opinion will I have gotten and what legal protection does it afford me?

If I consult an attorney, what I have received is a professional opinion based on the fact that my attorney has been educated in intellectual property law, can find the correct law and interpret it for me. Having that opinion does not protect me from being sued. It is only an opinion; it is not a get out of being sued free card. The decision to post or not post is still mine.

Only the court's opinion matters and that is until they are overturned. I have found no court case that expressly holds I can not post this photo based on a similar set of facts and circumstances. So in the absence of a court case, do I need a legal opinion or will good old fashioned common sense suffice?

Moral Common Sense Thought Process:

My family and my husband’s family took photographs for the purpose of sharing those images with other family members. This photograph was taken to commemorate a three generation family holiday and was shared with family members of the time. As the family historian, our families send me photographs along with the stories that surround them and encourage me to share them. I believe I have a moral duty to share so that those depicted in the photograph will not be forgotten.

I have a familial connection to this photograph. I am not some person who is unknown to my family, publishing a book for financial gain, containing this photograph of my father-in-law, and publishing without permission of the copyright holder. I have not plucked this photo from the internet.

So, Who Would Or Would Not Sue Me?

Only the copyright holder, not some heretofore-unknown disinterested entity, has standing to sue me for copyright infringement. There are no Copyright Police patrolling the blogs looking specifically for my father-in-law's photo to sue me for a determination as to whether it is copyrighted or in the public domain. Under these circumstances the copyright holder will most likely be one of my husband's family members, if there is a copyright holder.

If there is anything I know for certain in this Intellectual Property quagmire it is that not one single member of my husband's family will sue me for copyright infringement. That's just plain common sense. They would not spend the time and money to prevent me from posting a photograph that originally came from them with a mandate to share.

So without a definitive determination as to whether this photograph is copyrighted or in the public domain, I have determined that my liability for suit under copyright infringement for posting the photograph of my father-in-law on my blog is slim to none. So what is my decision?

Common Sense Wins - I will post!

The photograph and its story will be available in my Monday post. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

No Smiling For The Camera

Having had the proverbial bucket of cold water thrown on the choice of topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, the footnoteMaven has officially changed the topic to: Moral or legal dilemmas in genealogy and genea-blogging, which ones have you had to deal with and how did you resolve them, if you did? Please make a note of this change and pass it on where appropriate. Thank you.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Carnival of Genealogy 28th Edition Is Here

The Carnival is in town and it is a thing of beauty.

The 28th Edition challenged us all to blog about our surnames. What an interesting Carnival. There is so much to read and it is all so unique. Thanks to the efforts of Jasia, the leader of the pack, Genea-Bloggers are making the COG a tremendous success.

So, join me and read up!


The Campbells Are Coming!

When a Scotsman has fully settled his mind he can be as "sot in his ways” as the traditional mule, and unless you know why, as unreasonable.
- L.C. Dunlap

No family in Scotland has achieved greater success or more hatred (probably one because of the other) than the Campbell Clan. Almost all the clans dislike us, even to this day. It is perhaps the necessary tribute paid to success, for after every conflict or upheaval in the Highlands the Clan has come out of the turmoil with more property. (The hatred may also be attributed to the fact that the warlike Campbells very nearly annihilated the entire McDonald clan.) Certainly there is no greater family among the nobility of Scotland.

I can personally vouch for the unpopularity of the Campbell Clan among many of the Scots of modern-day Britain. While traveling in Scotland I mentioned to a cab driver I was a Campbell. He warned me not to mention it again, as the Campbells were not well regarded in Scotland.

The surname Campbell is Scots in origin, but has been attributed to several derivations.

Nickname - Exploit or Incident

One of the lesser held attributions of the surname Campbell is as a nickname formed in connection with the following exploit. The Romans under Julius Ceasar overran Britain (England) and Caledonia (Scotland) in 55 B.C. They were never able to go farther than the foot of the Grampian Mountains in Scotland; there they met up with the hardy, warlike Highlanders, the most powerful being the Clan Diarmid (Black Clan). The story goes that the chief of the Clan Diarmid had a son – an enterprising young man named Colin who got permission from his father to take a hand picked lot of clansmen and attack the Roman camp at night. Collin attacked and killed them all. Each clansman brought a trophy from the Roman camp, Colin brought back the camp bell (the story goes that the Romans used bells for their signals and calls instead of a bugle). Colin was thereafter called Colin Campbell. When the old Chief Diarmid died and young Colin Campbell was named chief, he changed the clan name from Diarmid to Campbell – which remains the clan name.

Topographic Surname

The family name, Campbell, is thought by some to be Italian in origin, Campobello, meaning beautiful field. The Scottish version would be Portobello, the English (Fairfield), the French (Beauchamp) and the German (Schoenfeldt). Most scholars dispute this interpretation by arguing that the documents of the time were written in Latin and Campobello would be the Latin equivalent of Campbell. Also, no early records contain the Italian derivation of the surname.

Nickname - Physical Characteristic (The most widely held derivation of the surname.)

The head of the Clan Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, and most scholars hold that the name is purely Scottish in origin, its original spelling being Cambel, hence the pronunciation. The name itself is from the Scots Gaelic Caimbeul, meaning 'wry mouth' or 'crooked mouth', from the Gaelic cam and beul, and was, presumably, a description of the first bearer who was said to have a curved or crooked mouth. It has also been argued that the nickname had nothing to do with the first bearer's physical appearance, but rather that what came out of his mouth was less than truthful, hence 'crooked mouth'.

The first modern record of the name, Cambel, is on a single surviving record for a person who owned land near Stirling in 1263. A manuscript pedigree of the Campbells of Argyll (it is unproven family lore that my family is descended from the Duke of Argyll) in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh traces the Campbells to King Arthur. I have not personally seen the manuscript, but as a family historian I'd really like a chance to read it.

Campbell ranks 43rd in American family names and there were 512,879 in the United States in 1995 according to the Encyclopedia of American Family Names.

The most famous Campbell in my family is my GGGrandfather John Campbell. John lived in Carroll County, Missouri, during the Civil War. Carroll was a Northern and Republican stronghold. John Campbell, a local merchant and postmaster, held Confederate recruitment meetings in his home. When the war ended, John ran on the Democratic ticket for Sheriff, receiving more votes than all the Presidential Candidates in the election, Republican or Democrat.

I am writing a family history for my family entitled Time and Chance - Happen To Them All. A sample is posted here and shows the incorporation of some of the information regarding the derivation of the surname.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What's In A Name?

"WHEN the good King Philip of France had determined to seat a queen by his side on the throne, he sent embassadors to his neighbor, the King of Spain, and gave them authority to choose one of his two daughters for their sovereign.

They were struck with the beauty of the elder sister, and decided among themselves that, both on account of her age and her charms, she would be a fit bride for their master. But of a sudden their opinion was changed.

They had been told that the beauty was called Uracca, while the younger and less attractive sister was called Blanca. That name of Uracca destroyed all other charms; they abandoned their choice, and led the younger princess back with them to rule over France."

History has more than one such answer to the question,
"What's In A Name?"

Family names (hereditary names or surnames) originated at many different times in many different places. The modern family name is of medieval European origin and we can thank bureaucracies for its inception. As tax collectors, bailiffs, sheriffs, law enforcement and court officers needed a more precise form of identification of individuals, the surname was born.

For the most part, people did not have surnames in the 11th century (although some clan names existed, which later became family names, ex. Ireland). Most European surnames (England and France) took shape in the 13th and 14th centuries with almost all countries having surnames by the 15th century.

Family names can be classified into a small number of types according to their origin. Those types are patronymic and metronymic surnames, local surnames, occupational surnames, and surnames derived from nicknames.


The oldest and most frequent type of family name is the patronymic/metronymic name. These are names that were passed from father or mother to the son and are derived from a male or female Christian name.

Most patronymic names were formed by adding the suffix s or son to the Christian name as in Johns and Johnson, Roberts and Robertson, Williams and Williamson. Prefixes can be seen in the Scottish mac, mc MacDonald, McRoberts and the Irish O’Connell and O’Neill.

Metronymic, or family names derived from a female Christian name are more rare. They appear to be derived from the names of women who were widows for most of their lives or were heiresses in their own right. Examples of this naming system are Marguerite, Margetts, Margerison derived from Margery; Annis, Anness and Annison derived from Agnes; and Dysons from the ancient Dionisia.



Local surnames are derived from places and fall into two broad categories. The first category is topographic. A topographic surname is derived from a general descriptive reference to a feature of the landscape such as a hill, dale, ford, wood, or green.

A topographic surname can also refer to a specific river by its name or to a castle, city wall, abbey or church that are man made.


The second category under Local Surnames is toponymic surnames also called habitational names. These surnames are derived from named places such as names of counties, towns, villages, farmsteads, individual houses with signs on them, hamlets, etc. Examples would be London, York, Kent, and Lancaster.

Often it is difficult to determine if a name originate from a descriptive reference such as “(at) the broad ford’ or ‘(by) the red hill” or from an established name of a place such as Bradford or Redhill.


Occupational surnames refer directly to the occupation or trade of the original bearer of the name. For many of us buried within our surnames lies an inventory of the common trades of medieval Europe.

Some names are obvious; others have lost their meaning because the trade from which they derived their surname has lost its meaning. Obvious examples are Smith, Wright, Butcher, Farmer, Cook, Carpenter, Taylor, Hunt, Weaver, and Potter. Not as obvious are Cooper (barrel maker), Fletcher (arrow maker), Chapman (traveling street hawker – salesman), Lorimer (harness maker), and Souter (shoemaker).

Another category of occupational names referred to the calling by naming the principal object associated with the occupation such as the tools Axe, Pick, Daino (“fallow deer” denoting a deer hunter), or product such as Fromage.

Some of the original occupational names denoted a person’s job for the King or noblemen such as Gilly, Hawker, Forrester, and Falconer. These were the original government workers.

Occupational names also include names denoting status. Bachelor, Knight, and Squire denote a particular role in medieval society. Those with the surnames King, Prince, Duke, Earl, and Bishop most likely were not the holder of the rank in question, but rather a servant of the rank holder.


Physical features and behavioral characteristics form the basis for surnames that are derived from nicknames. Boy, could our ancestors be cruel and NOT politically correct when it came to attaching a nickname to some poor soul.

Some nicknames were actually complimentary as in Fairweather (sunny disposition), Fox (cunning), Lamb (gentle) and Makepeace (wise arbiter); others such as Cruikshanks (crooked legs), Cameron (crooked nose), Doolittle (lazy), Drinkwater (miserly), Gulliver (glutton), Blanchflower (an effeminate man), Gotobed (lazy person),and Campbell (wry or crooked mouth) were not. I am a Campbell and you can read more about them at my The Campbell's Are Coming blog post.

Surnames derived from nicknames are most typically concerned with some aspect of physical or character traits. Examples are Black, White, Whitehead, Grant (tall or large), Gray, Grealey (pock-marked face), Greathead, Moneypenny (richman or miser), Harsch (stern or severe man), Hasard (gambler), and Hasty (impetuous).

Some of these nicknames came about as the result of some incident or exploit probably only known to a very few people and long since forgotten. Two such nicknames are Death and Leggatt. What could have happened to cause such a nickname? We can only wonder.

Another group of nicknames commemorate either a characteristic action Wagstaff, Shakespeare, or a particular incident such as Tiplady. The origins of many of these may be obscene. In deference to Shakespeare, the name could also mean a man who goes into battle and stands at or near the front lines wildly shaking his spear.

As you can see from this brief overview of surnames, you will have to do a great deal of research on your individual name before you can definitively say what the derivation of that name may be.

Here are some interesting web sites on surnames:

The Guild of One-Name Studies
Surname Profiler
The Genealogist
Ancestry - Learning Center - Family Facts

REFERENCE LIST (a little light suggested reading):

Alvarez-Altman, Grace. 1978. Spanish Surnames In The Southwestern United States : A Dictionary. Woods, Richard Donovon.

Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. 1843-1898. A Dictionary Of English and Welsh Surnames : With Special American Instances. Heraldry Today.

----------. 1968. English Surnames; Their Sources and Significations 1843-1898. C. E. Tuttle Co.

Beider, Alexander. 1993. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames From the Russian Empire. Avotaynu, Inc.

Chao, Sheau-yueh J. 2000. In Search of Your Asian Roots. Genealogical Research on Chinese Surnames. Clearfield Co.

Cottle, Basil. 1967. The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Penguin.

Fucilla, Joseph Guerin. 1949. Our Italian Surnames. Chandler's Inc.

Gillis, I. V. 1939. Japanese Surnames 1875-1948 . Hwa Hsing Press.

Hanks, Patrick. Flavia Hodges. 1988. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press.

Hoffman, William F. 1998. Polish Surnames : Origins and Meanings. Polish Genealogical Society of America.

Hook, J. N. 1913 c1982. Family Names : How Our Surnames Came To America. Macmillan ; Collier Macmillan.

Latham, Edward. 1990. A Dictionary of Nnames, Nicknames, and Surnames of Persons, Places, and Things. Omnigraphics.

----------. 1966. A Dictionary of Names, Nicknames, and Surnames of Persons, Places and Things. Republished byGale Research Co.

L'Estrange, Cecil. 1969. A Guide To The Origin of British Surnames. Gale Research Co.

----------. 1968. A History of Surnames of The British Isles; A Concise Account of Their Origin, Evolution, Etymology, and Legal Status 1877-. Gale Research Co.

MacLysaght, Edward. 1964. A Guide to Irish Surnames. Genealogical Book Co.

----------. 1980. The Surnames of Ireland. Irish Academic Press.

Mansfield, G. M. 1988. Family History Index : A List of Less Than Common Surnames Found In 25 Selected Family Histories. G.M. Mansfield.

Pine, L. G. 1967. The Story of Surnames. C. E. Tuttle Co.

Platt, Lyman De. 1996. Hispanic Surnames and Family History. Genealogical Publishing Co.

Reaney, Percy H. 1967. The Origin of English Surnames. 1880-1968. Barnes & Noble.

Redmonds, George. 1935. Surnames and Genealogy. New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Rowlands, John. 1996.The Surnames of Wales : For Family Historians and Others 1938-. Genealogical Pub. Co.

Sims, Clifford Stanley. 1969. The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames; With a Vocabulary of Christian Names 1839-1896. C. E. Tuttle Co.

Smith, Elsdon Coles. 1986, c1969. American Surnames. Genealogical Pub. Co.,

Vallentine, John F. 1975. Locality Finding Aids For U.S. Surnames. Everton.

1. M. Schele DeVere, “Names of Men,” Harper's Magazine (December 1865- May 1866); electronic edition, Google Books, By Making of America Project, Harper's Magazine Foundation, Original University of Michigan, (
PA51&ots=HzRaJK1fGS&sig=oQBzJILc8x454A-SGpOsZa6fitM : Digitized Apr 4, 2007, accessed 17 July 2007), pg. 51.


Thanks Chris Dunham for doing the heavy lifting and finding my quote online!


DeVere,M. Schele “Names of Men,” Harper's Magazine (December 1865- May 1866). Electronic edition. Google Books, Making of America Project, Harper's Magazine Foundation, Original University of Michigan.
HzRaJK1fGS&sig=oQBzJILc8x454A-SGpOsZa6fitM : 2007.

Hanks, Patrick. Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1988.

Redmonds, George. Surnames and Genealogy. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1935.

Stockdill, Roy. "How To Research Your Surname," Your Family History 45 (December 2006): 24-30.


Ernest Lavisse, Historie De France (D.C. Heath & Co. 1919) 1, 2, 12, 34, 105, 108.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Manuscripts of the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era

I'm writing a section of my family history that concentrates on my Campbell ancestors and the part they played in the War Between The States. Little of that part of our family history has been documented. I am compiling the specific battles, locality information, etc. and found the website for the Manuscripts of the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era.

This is an ongoing project of the Department of Special Collections, University Libraries of Notre Dame that contains images and textual transcriptions for many of the letters and correspondences in their Civil War collection. It is an excellent resource for adding realism to your writing.

Items that have been scanned and transcribed include one topical collection, four diaries, thirteen personal letter groups or correspondences; these comprise a total of approximately 275 letters, and two military records.

Diary Example:

Diary of:
1862-1863. 1 vol., 15 cm., 47 leaves total, with 90 pages of manuscript entries in Arthur's hand. A diary kept by David B. Arthur (b. 1837), as 1st sergeant and 2nd lieutenant in Co. I, 20th Wisconsin Infantry. Arthur was a lead miner, from Beetown, Grant County, Wisconsin. He was mustered in to the 20th Wisconsin in August 1862 and served in that unit for the duration of the war, ultimately rising to 1st lieutenant. The diary includes dated entries ranging from 20 October 1862 to 12 June 1863; during this time the regiment was attached to the Army of the Frontier, serving in Missouri and Arkansas. Arthur's entries describe three distinct expeditions or campaigns, the most important of which culminated in the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas (7 December 1862).

Diary Transcription:
June 12th 1863

Dear Mary as I want to send this book home I thought I would write a few lines as I have not got time to write a letter now. we are at or a little below Millikens bend on the Louisiana side of the river. we will march away to day but I cant tell where. I will write as soon as we stop. you must not be uneasy God will take care of me. I am tolerable well. So good bye we can here the cannon roar all the time day and night.

Some of the collection:

. 1864-65. 16 manuscripts, clippings. A collection of records and personal papers pertaining to the Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, Sumter County, Georgia, and to the commander of the prison stockade, Captain Henry Wirz.

This is certainly a website worth looking at for anyone working on the Civil War.

July : : Tidy Your Genealogical Documents Month

July is "Tidy Your Genealogy Documents Month". Says who? Says T.K. at Before My Time, and I think she's on to something.

I think she's on to something as I survey my office, my office where the tornado hit, and precious pieces of genealogical research remain hidden. I started "Tidying" a couple of days ago and it is going very slowly. I'm hoping the pressure of the group dynamic will shame me into finishing what I've started.

I created a research form for the individual ancestor and the locality in my family history research when I attend the University of Washington Certificate Program in Genealogy and Family History. I'm committed to using them. T.K. displays a very easy to use and nicely done research form that can be found here.

Don't procrastinate because you don't have a form - try these sites - no excuses need apply:

Family Tree Magazine Forms has a huge collection of downloadable forms on their web site.

Ancestors is the forms site for the first and second PBS Ancestors Series. It has an excellent checklist form and research questions form.

Census ToolsSeries is a collection of Excel Spreadsheets for census, cemetery and manifest data. It also contains a research checklist.

Miriam at AnceStories has taken the pledge and started the ball rolling. I'm following her lead, so if you're up for it, post a comment on T.K.'s Tidy Documents Article.

What do you have to lose?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

28th Edition COG ..: Surnames :..

28th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy
..: Surnames :..

For the next Carnival of Genealogy pick a surname on your tree and tell the COG all about it. What are it's ethnic origins? Has it morphed over time as your family has used it? (or at Ellis Island) What does it mean? Is it common or rare? What are the common misspellings? Any famous people or places with your surname?

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form here or the COG poster in the top right hand corner of the sidebar. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.


The 27th Carnival has been posted by Becky at kinexxions and she has done an amazing job! It is filled with wonderful posts - those submitted and the extras Becky has added.

Becky, you've made it a real challenge for those of us who will be responsible for the COG in coming editions. Thank you for all your hard work.

The COG just gets stronger and stronger.

Did You Know :: Fourth of July

One United States President was born on the fourth of July and three died on the fourth.

Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth President of the United States (1923-1929), was born in Plymouth, Vermont on July 4, 1872. He is the only president born on July 4.

John Adams, the second President of the United States (1797-1801), Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States (1801-1809), and James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States (1817-1825), all died on the Fourth of July.

Adams and Jefferson, died on the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Adams died in Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts and Jefferson died at Monticello in Virginia.

Monroe died in New York City on July 4, 1831, the third president (and so far the last) to die on the anniversary of our Nation's Independence.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Genealogists Don't Get No Respect!

Why Genealogy Is Bunk - Smithsonian Magazine

The July 2007 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine has published an article that has created quite a stir in the genealogical community. Titled “The Family Tree, Pruned – Its lure is powerful – but genealogy is meaningless, relatively - By Richard Conniff.

Mr. Conniff’s biography states that he offers completely original presentations — explorations of human behavior that alternate between the hilarious and the insightful.

You decide if Mr. Conniff’s article is hilarious, insightful, or just plain bunk. You will have to buy the magazine or read it at your local library, though, as it is not online. When you’ve read the article, take our online poll and view the results.

You might also like to read what some online genealogy blogs think of the article:

Chris Dunham's The Genealogue

Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings "Genealogy Research is Not Bunk"

Michael John Neill's Genealogy Site - “Genealogy Is Bunk” Is Bunk

Craig Manson at GeneaBlogie - Debunking Genealogy as Bunk

As for me, I’ll go with Rodney Dangerfield by saying – “Genealogists Don't Get No Respect!”

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Plum Crazy!

For quite some time now, we genealogy bloggers have become acquainted with Jasia of Creative Gene's love of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels.

I love books about how authors write, and I had purchased Evanovich's book How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author. In it Evanovich uses her own Stephanie Plum characters as illustrations of character development and I was finding it rather interesting. Interesting enough that I had decided to buy and read one of her novels.

Jasia had told us it was a series, but you didn't have to begin at the beginning, so on Friday I found To The Nines in the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble and I bought it.

I started the book yesterday and I can tell you I was totally unprepared for this book from page one. By page three I heard myself say OMG outloud. My husband looked up wanting to know what was going on with the new book, the one my blogger friend had recommended.

"I'm not sure," I told him. "I think it might be a little out of my comfort zone. I'm really a P.D. James, Sharon Kay Penman, David McCullough sort of woman."

I'm also a stubborn woman who, while resistant to change, was not about to give up only three pages in. By 11:00 p.m. last night when I went to bed, I hadn't put the book down. I spent most of the night under the covers reading with my little book light on. I had the light on so long, the batteries went dead.

"The batteries are dead on your book light," my husband told me when he discovered the dead light in the covers this morning. "I thought you said this book wasn't for you."

O.K., I was wrong. I finished the book and now I want more. So tomorrow I will be looking for Ten Big Ones. I've decided to work my way to Lean Mean Thirteen and then start at the beginning.

Stephanie Plum has now become my guilty pleasure. The book I'll read for the shear enjoyment of it. My favorite character? Bob, I like the silent type. You'll have to read the book.

Oh, and just so this qualifies as a genealogy post, here is how Stephanie describes her cousin Vinnie:

Vinnie sat on a rotting branch of my family tree.

So Jasia, thank you, now we're both Plum crazy!

New Citation and Evidence Book From Elizabeth Shown Mills

Elizabeth Shown Mills' new book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, is the update to her Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian published in 1997 and is expected to be available by August 1st.

This is a must have for any serious family historian.

A 2007 revised version of the QuickSheet was released recently. It updates all the URLs and has some other minor revisions that coincide with Mills' new book.

The QuickSheet and Evidence Explained can be found at Wholly Genes.

America For Me!

Jasia of Creative Gene posted an article and link to the Peggy Noonan piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled "On letting go: How we become American," discussing the differences in the immigrant of today versus our immigrant ancestors. It is a very thought provoking read in which I recognized members of my own family.

In the piece Ms. Noonan quotes from a patriotic poem that made its way into one of Ronald Reagan's speeches. Here is the poem in its entirety - appropriate for the 231st anniversary of America's birth.

And yes, I cry during patriotic songs, poems, and the Fourth of July Fireworks, because it's always been America for me.

America For Me
by Henry Van Dyke

'TIS fine to see the Old World and travel up and down
Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues and kings
But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things.

So it's home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom, beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair;
And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods in green battalions drilled;
I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing fountains filled;
But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day
In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her sway!

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack!
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free--
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
To the blessed Land of Room Enough, beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Respect Honors No Political Persuasion

There was a time when Seattle’s respect for our troops shone like the wax job on the vintage cars lined up at the XXX Drive-In in Issaquah. It was World War II, a time when Seattle honored the sacrifice of our local heroes. But then, it was a different time, a different war, a different respect, or was it?


Today our local evening news shows a photo of our fallen soldiers, their name and rank. Blink and you have missed the mention of these courageous young men and women. A blink is all they are afforded and certainly few stories of their short lives. You have only to look to our community history to compare the temperature of respect - then and now.

We Salute – Sgt. Page Warren . . . Marine
Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 3, 1944

This is “Marine Corps Day”! “Marine Corps Day” in the Fourth War Loan Campaign of the mightiest war ever known to men! Millions are fighting. Millions have died and are dying in the struggle to decide the fate and future of mankind. Among the many Armed Forces of many nations none are fighting more valiantly, more nobly then those which fight under the Stars and Stripes. And in our forces none have excelled the desperate heroism, the sacrificial boldness, the bloody achievements of our Marines.

These are the boys who but yesterday were playing football in High School and College, skiing on the mountains, hunting, fishing, sailing. Boys who loved life and yet were ready to lose it gallantly for the honor of their Corps.

Today as we pay homage to their deep devotion, one Seattle boy stands out as typical of all the rest – Page Warren. Many of us knew him. Indeed, his memory was the inspiration of this dedication today.

Page Warren was a graduate of Queen Anne High School, popular with everyone, an “ace” in athletic affairs, the sports editor of the school paper, and a member of the Board of Control for the Boys’ Club. Only yesterday his principal remarked that he was one of the finest boys ever to attend the school and, after nine years, the teachers remember him for his courtesy, modesty and cooperation. He graduated in 1935.

Circumstances made it necessary for him to go to work instead of to College. He started as a messenger in the Seattle Trust and Savings Bank and climbed to a responsible position in the Trust Department. He was able then to purchase a modest home for his mother and look forward to a banking career. Then came the war. With two other young bank employees, James H. Duncan and Robert Childs, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He went oversees, became a sergeant. Then suddenly came the news – “Sergeant Page Warren killed in action at Tarawa.”

Page Warren is not forgotten!

The “Fathers and Friends of the U.S. Marine Corps” was founded to dedicate itself to sell as many War Bonds on this day – “Marine Corps Day” – as the hearts of the people of Seattle can afford. Every Seattle Bank and every issuing agent, such as The Bon Marche, are ready to help you to pay tribute to Page Warren and his comrades for their willingness to die for us.

This is a Victory Editorial The Bon Marche


Is Page Warren any different than those young men and women who are making the ultimate sacrifice today in the Middle East? Look to the story of Paratrooper Casey Combs for your answer.

Army Staff Sgt. Casey Combs was killed in Afghanistan, April 12, 2007. He was born in Renton, Washington, and was a 1997 graduate of Sumner High School. He loved sports, lettering in baseball and tennis during high school.

Combs worked as a construction-site foreman until Sept. 11, 2001. Later that week he said he had to do something. That following week he enlisted. Combs told his wife and family that it was "what he needed to do to keep us safe and everyone else safe."

He is the Page Warren of today and he and those like him have earned my respect and my gratitude.

I come from a family of immigrants, some early to these shores, some late, but all Americans. We were originally French, German, Scots, English, and Irish. We were not French American, German American, Scots American, English American, or Irish American, just proud and very grateful to be fortunate enough to call ourselves Americans and to live in America.

My family walked the walk. From the time they arrived my ancestors showed their dedication and respect for America by serving our country in the military.

My parents both served in the Army in World War II and they taught their children respect. Respect for the flag, our country, our government, but most of all respect for those “who loved life but were willing to lose it gallantly for their country.“

Respect honors no political persuasion; it has no color, no ethnicity, and no religion. It is left, it is right, it is Republican and it is Democrat. It is an individual, a family and a community trait. It is what America and the American experience mean to me and to my family.