Sandra Guynn believes the man in the center of this photo is Charles Anthony Doyle (born 1867), and the women, his daughters (born in 1891 and 1892). She can’t identify the man on the left.
Let’s answer the simple question first—when was it taken?
The women’s hats provide a time frame of 1904 to 1908. Large hats and pouched front bodices gave women a then-fashionable S-shaped figure. (Read more about women’s headgear history in Jonathan Walford’s online article on Vintage Fashion Guild.)
However, this date somewhat disagrees with Guynn’s tentative date. Doyle’s daughters would be young children at the beginning of that time frame and teens by 1908. So let’s look at other evidence:
- Hindering this investigation is the lack of a photographer’s imprint. Guyunn’s photo is a copy and doesn’t know where the original is. Since a house’s clapboards and window sash are visible, likely this is an amateur snapshot rather than a professional studio photo. Guynn could examine her own and relatives’ pictures for a house with similar construction.
- Also in the background are two screens. One is a fabric divider commonly found in houses of the era, while on the right is a large divider with attached photographs. They’re blurry, but Guynn should enlarge this photo and try to see if any of the images match other family pictures.
- One man stares directly into the camera while the women look to our left (probably at another person), and the other man looks in the opposite direction. The man with the top hat is the significant figure based on how they’re posed.
That man is Charles Anthony Doyle, according to Guynn’s tentative identification. He’d be about 40, the right age for this photo. The pose and attire indicate he’s a man of authority.
The questions remain about the women. Further research using census records could help sort it out.
I’ll be back soon, hopefully with more information and an ID.