Clues in Old Photo Postcards

By Maureen A. Taylor

Last week I wrote about orphan photos and how you can reunite them with family. This week I’m featuring one such image that Jennifer Bryan bought. I’m hoping that a descendant will see this two-part story.


These three young women—Desca, Mabel and Hazel—sent this real photo-postcard to their friend Flossie. It’s a postcard with clues on the front and back. Postmarks, postage stamps, address information and the message all add up to tell the story of these women.

I’ll start with the front. The high necklines of these blouses suggest a time frame of circa 1910. These white lawn fabric blouses could be purchased through the Sears Catalog for 49 cents to $1.35. You can view the Sears Catalog pages on

I especially love the fashionable hairstyle of the woman on the right. She’s rolled her hair away from the sides of her head. She’s accessorized her appearance with a hairstyle she may have seen in a women’s magazine, a watch pinned to her bodice, and a neck ribbon.


Just like the best- and worst-dressed issues of People magazine, ancestral fashion magazines had articles about fashion foibles. What do you think of this young woman’s hair?

The other two women are not as fashion-conscious as their friend, based on their simpler hairstyles and lack of accessories. Their hair and blouses agree with the tentative time frame about 1910.

Next week, I’ll examine the clues on the back of this photo-postcard to see how the clues add up.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album