Photo Detective: Playing Politics
11/1/2008
A tiny detail in your photo may reveal a relative's political views.

In a 1776 letter, Abigail Adams admonished her husband, John, to “remember the ladies” as the Continental Congress struggled to establish a government. Even though women weren't allowed to vote on a national level until 1920, many, like Abigail, took an interest in political affairs.

Frances Althea Cuppernell, shown here on the right, didn't leave writings expressing her views. But as you'll see, details in this portrait reveal hidden aspects of her political leanings. Her great-great-grandson Orville S. Paller sent this image to me because he's been unable to crack the identity of the two ladies posing with Cuppernell. Paller wondered if his ancestor's unique bar pin could hold the answer to this pictorial brick wall. Let's stack up the facts and find out.