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From: J Lipmanson <>
Subject: Re: Best find for Identifying Photographs
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2006 15:44:13 -0400
References: <> <008901c667ba$080bd910$964fb245@dpc01>
In-Reply-To: <008901c667ba$080bd910$964fb245@dpc01>

I don't know of a book focusing on European photographs only, but the
one I referenced, "Dressed for...." I found very helpful for photographs
I have of my family in Europe during the 19th century. The reasons why
it did were well explained by the author. In summary, she points out
that 1) most people who posed for a photographer in the 19th century
dressed in their very best clothing (the taking of the photograph was a
major event, and this held true across all socio-economic levels), and
2) styles of dress, in America and in Europe, were based on the latest
Paris designs, even in the smallest and rural communities. These designs
were propagated by seamstresses, a fledgling ready-to-wear industry, and
by home sewers through commercial patterns. Everyone wanted the latest
designs, and the claim of a dress design or pattern being the latest one
from Paris was a frequently used marketing device. If it weren't for new
dress designs, most people would wear their clothes until they fell
apart (also true today).

Because of this, the book is able to point out distinct 5-year changes
in fashion, and sometimes less, that are most helpful for dating a
photograph. It also includes styles for children and men, fabric styles
and colors, hair styles, and jewelry. These paralled fashion changes. A
simple but valuable benefit for me was being able to determine with more
certitude the identification of a female relative in a picture. I knew
she was either my g-grandmother, as a young woman, or one of her
daughters, a g-aunt. Knowing there was a 20 span between the two woman,
I was able to to determine from the clothing style and hair style that
this person was, most probably, my g-grandmother. That is as close as
I'll get to being certain unless I come across another photograph of her
that is marked with her name.


Ed and Marianne (Lindley) Girten wrote:
> Do you have a similar book to suggest re European photographs? A
> relative has a huge pile of photos from mid to late 1800s that are, on
> the whole, English, but also French and Austrian.

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