A Family in Three Photos

A Family in Three Photos

Dana Tipton submitted these three photographs from her family collection. Can our Photo Detective solve this family mystery in three photos?

Dana Tipton submitted three photographs from her family collection. It’s time for a multi-part series!

She wrote: “I think the man is Jan Marek.  If it is, he was born in 1891 in Paseky, Bohemia.  I assume the woman is his wife.  The photographer is Frant. Hak Nova Paka.”

Ooh. An overseas image! Let’s see how the clues in this one add up.

family in three photos
The first of three photos submitted from Dana Tipton’s family collection.

Clothing Clues

Dana is right that the woman and man are married. The ribbon on his suit could signify a wedding. It’s a formal picture. White not black tie, the ribbon, and his gloves – the details add up.

The woman’s hat with the large asymmetrical ribbon suggests a date around the time of World War I. That would mean Jan would be in his early twenties. Don’t you love his protective pose with hand on the back of her chair? He’s not a very tall man. She could be sitting because it’s a popular pose of the time or because she was taller.

The Photographer

I’m going to start by using Google. “Frant Hak Nova Paka.” Bingo! There is a website with another picture by Frant. The site is in Czech, but Google Translate can convert it to English in a click. There is not a lot of new information on the photographer though.

Jan Marek

A quick search of Ancestry.com resulted in a lot of matches for Jan Marek’s born in 1891. Bohemia was the westernmost part of the Czech Republic. It makes sense for the wedding portrait to be taken in that area. So which one is the real Jan? I’m hoping that Dana has a bit more information.

screenshot
A quick search of Ancestry.com resulted in a lot of matches for Jan Marek’s born in 1891.

There is a possible match. In the New York Passenger and Crew Lists on Ancestry.com there is a Jan Marek, 32 who arrives in 1923. On the list, Czech is crossed out and Bohemia written in. He’s going to see his Uncle.

I have a lot of questions for Dana:
Is this her relative?
Where’s the wife and what’s her name?

These are my top two. Now let’s see where we can go from here. Next week we’ll look at another image of the man supposed to be Jan. I’d like to know who identified this image and how it came to be passed down to Dana.


Maureen A. Taylor, author of Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs, provides all the information you need to care for your family photograph collection. In Preserving Your Family Photographs, she outlines how to add value to your home collection by using the methods that conservators and photo curators use every day!

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