There are details in the image apart from the uniform. The brown paper sleeve and the brown-toned photograph suggest a date in the late 1910s or 1920s when brown toning was popular. The linoleum on the floor looks much older.
Pam Bruzan shared an image of her grandfather with is fellow Odd Fellows.
She weighed in with a little more information. “Some of the wording on the associated shields across the chest band included “patriarchs militant” + “justitia universalis” – which Google attributes to the Patriarchs Militant, “a high order of the Odd Fellows.”
So it appears our mystery man is a member of the Odd Fellows. Perhaps the photo documents when he became a member of the Patriarchs Militant.
There is still an unknown. Who is he?
I’m hoping the owner can answer the following questions:
- Did anyone in the family belong to a fraternal organization?
- Who owned the photo before you?
- Who’s the right age in the 1920 census?
- Where did the family live in the 1920s?
She’s looking for a man approaching middle age in the 1920s. His obit may mention his membership affiliation. Then again, maybe not. My father was a member of a fraternal group in his twenties but his membership lapsed as he got older.
If you want to learn more about fraternal groups, research the names of the specific groups online and use the Internet Archive to find manuals and other materials.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to weigh in!
Some were close but didn’t match the sleeve insignia. Photo identification can sway on the littlest detail.
Got a mystery uniform in your family photos? Send them in. I love a challenge.
Want to become a photo detective? Our Family Photo Detective book will teach readers how to identify and verify people in family photographs by comparing facial features in a collection of photos.