How Are They Related: 5/29/00  
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How Are They Related?
by Maureen Taylor

In her grandmother's box of photographs, Patricia Matthews found three similar portraits of young girls wearing large bows. They intrigued her because all three young women also wore the same locket and bracelet to have their pictures taken. She submitted one of the images for identification to find out more about these similarities.

It was not unusual for young women to exchange friendship tokens and have their picture taken wearing them. It could be that all three young women were close friends who chose to wear the same accessories to accent their relationship. Young women would purchase identical lockets, have their friends' initials engraved upon them and swap photographs. Another possibility is that all three are relatives. Gifts of jewelry on significant birthdays were quite common. A family member might have given them the same presents for the same birthday. As for the bows, fashion-conscious young girls often wore them in the first decade of the 20th century. This very confident teenager selected one larger than her head! These young women obviously spent a great deal of time preparing to have their portraits taken, paying particular attention to their accessories.

One of the most striking parts of this picture is the young woman herself. She is not timid in front of the camera. Her whole appearance in this portrait illustrates her self-assured personality. The photographer reinforced this impression by posing her with hands on hips standing at a slight angle to the camera. This also enhanced all of the elements of her costume. The size and style of the bow, the design of the bodice of the dress and the bracelet are all elegantly shown. None of this would have been apparent if she were directly facing the camera.

At the time of this picture she is probably between the ages of 13 to 16. The main dating clue is her hair. Girls usually wore their hair down to the shoulders until some time in their middle teenage years. The bow is an indication that she is still young enough to wear a hair ornament usually found on younger children.

This image has many stories to tell. It's amazing that this photograph even survived to the present. If you look closely, you can see where another image had been lying on top of this photograph. The red stain surrounding the outline is the residue of a flood in Seminole, Okla. This photograph was protected by the image covering it.

Pat believes the woman in the picture is the daughter of her grandmother's half-sister. She is now busy contacting other relatives to see if this photo and the others can be positively identified, and is waiting to hear from them.

Find out how to submit your own picture for possible analysis by Maureen Taylor. E-mail her at

Maureen A. Taylor, owner of Taylor & Strong, combines her background in history, genealogy, photography and library science to assist individuals and institutions with research and project management. She is the author of several genealogical books and articles including the upcoming Preserving Your Family Photographs and the recent Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs. She also is project manager for, a site that lets visitors plan a genealogical research trip to the Boston area.

Her current book, Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs, provides the reader with proven methods of photo analysis and interpretation. With Taylor's help, the mystery surrounding many old family pictures can at last be unraveled, enabling these photographs to assume their proper place among treasured family memorabilia.

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