Mind-Bending Photo Mystery: Part 2

By Maureen A. Taylor

Last week I wrote about Pam and Art Crawford’s family photo dilemma. With both the Crawford and Jones families claiming this couple as their relatives, it’s a pixel puzzle.


This week I’m tackling the costume clues in the image.


Men’s ties and collars can help pinpoint a date. This man wears an all-over patterned tie. The design has a slight diagonal pattern, which suggests it’s from about 1930. The points in the collar look longer than a middle-pointed shape, which suggests it might be a 1930s style called the “California Collar.” Clark Gable popularized it.


Lace collars were very popular in the 1930s. Around the woman’s neck are pearls. Simulated pearls could be bought from the Sears catalog for approximately 95 cents. It’s very difficult to see due to the shadows in this picture, but her dress has a soft flouncy sleeve.


Both husband and wife wear round glasses. Round shapes were common in the 1920s, but thin metal frames were also still available in the 1930s. Since they probably didn’t change glasses very often, it’s likely these are from the late 1920s.

The circa-1930s date eliminates Thomas Jefferson Jones and Mary Jane Williams from consideration. Mary Jane died in 1916.

When comparing their faces, I noticed that the husband looks older and more frail than his wife.

This couple could be Art’s grandparent’s Nathaniel Crawford and Lois Viola Henley. Nathaniel died in 1937.

The big questions remain: How did Pam’s grandmother come to own a copy of this image, and why did she identify the couple as Thomas and Mary Jones?

Extensive family research by the Crawfords has yet to reveal an answer.

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