More on Backyard Snapshots

By Maureen A. Taylor


Last week I focused on the details in the background of this backyard snapshot of Francis (Frank) Q. Donnelly. It’s a great picture of a man taken in the first half of the 20th century. His relative, Dennis Rodgers, has a lot of information about him.

Frank Donnelly (1879-1940) was born and died in Washington, DC. He was second generation on his father’s side. His mother was born in Ireland. Census records and his WW I draft registration pinpoint where he lived. He worked as a tinner and later as a steamfitter.

Known addresses and time frames include:

1900—486 E. Street SW
1910—1008 F Street SE
1918—1116 B Street NE (This is now Constitution Avenue)
1920—721 3rd Street NE
1930—721 3rd Street NE

A quick search of Google Maps for the last address shows a lovely brick townhouse. Wonder if this image was taken in the rear of the building?

His clothing suggests a time frame circa 1920:

  • a soft collar shirt with a small collar
  • a medium-width tie
  • a jacket with narrow lapels
  • trousers that narrow toward the ankle. (In the 1930s, pants legs were wider.)

In 1920, a good worsted suit cost approximately $60 from the Sears Roebuck Catalog while a tie cost less than a dollar. For a fun look at men’s neckwear, see Roseann Ettinger’s 20th Century Neckties Pre-1955 (Schiffer, 1998).

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

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album