The Year Was 1902

Teddy Bear.bmpThe year was 1902 and America was on the brink of war with Germany over a crisis in Venezuela. Venezuela had defaulted on loans from Britain and Germany and in 1902 the two countries set up a blockade of Venezuelan ports. Fearing that Germany was going to use the conflict as an excuse to obtain Venezuelan real estate, American president, Theodore Roosevelt, dispatched Admiral George Dewey and much of the American naval force to the Caribbean on “maneuvers.” Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt made it clear through diplomatic channels that Germany should submit to arbitration negotiated by the U.S. or face military action. Germany agreed to arbitration with less than twenty-four hours left before the deadline; the blockade ended in February of 1903.

In Africa, the Second Boer War came to an end with the Treaty at Vereeniging. The Boers gave up their independence in exchange for a general amnesty, protection of the Dutch language, economic considerations, and eventual self-government.

As the winter of 1902 approached, the United States was worried about having enough fuel. Most homes were heated by coal around the turn of the century, and a coal miners’ strike in Pennsylvania had been going on since May. By October the situation was critical. President Roosevelt took the unprecedented step of inviting the United Mine Workers union and mine operators to the White House to negotiate a deal. The miners wanted a raise, shorter hours, and a recognized union. The initial meeting failed to end the strike and Roosevelt had to threaten to send in military forces to operate the mines. Everyone would lose if that happened, and the threat pushed both sides to compromise. The workers got a 10 percent raise and shorter hours, but the union was still not recognized.

An avid hunter, Roosevelt went hunting in November of 1902 in Mississippi. Since he wasn’t having any luck, one of his hosts tied a bear to a tree for him to shoot. Not willing to shoot the tethered creature, he told his benefactors to “Spare the bear.” Later a popular cartoon depicted the event and an enterprising couple in Brooklyn, New York, created a soft bear toy–Teddy’s Bear. The stuffed bear was a huge hit and teddy bears continue to delight children all over the world.

Photo Corner

20080121 clippie.bmpContributed by Evelyn May
This is a photograph of my mother during WWI when she was a “clippie” on the London trams.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

20080121 Agricola.bmpContributed by Carol Norwood, Doylestown Pennsylvania
This is the oldest photo I own! It was taken in 1874 in Goettingen, Germany, and shows my great-great-grandparents, Otto Ludwig Agricola and his wife, Caroline Perthes, with their children Martha (age four), Ernst (six months old), Emmy (age eight), and, in the front, Agnes (my great-grandmother). They had another son, Bernard, in 1877.

Tips from the Pros: Digging up Memories, from Michael John Neill

When interviewing family members, names of relatives and former neighbors can help jog the memory. The difficulty in some cases lies in knowing those names. There are some sources that can assist the family historian in obtaining names that may serve as the key to a floodgate of memories.

Consider finding the interviewee (or his or her parents) in the 1930 and other censuses. Ask the person about some of the family names on the same and nearby pages. Some of the families might have been neighbors for years. This approach can also be an excellent one when trying to obtain information for a neighborhood or township history.
County plat maps can also serve a similar purpose, but their limitation is that they only show landowners.

For those with more urban ancestors, city directories may serve a similar purpose. Just remember that some families lived in neighborhoods with a highly transient population, or may have been transient themselves. Be certain to determine if the city directory has a reverse directory (listing names by the order of their house number). This directory will make the obtaining of neighbors names significantly easier.

Church directories, yearbooks, and other similar publications may also provide names (or even pictures) to help jog your relative’s memory.

Who knows, these materials may even bring some of your own memories to the forefront.

Who Am I?

Mystery manHere are a couple mystery photographs that were sent in by Barbara G. Does anyone out there have any additional information?

Here are two pictures in hopes that another Ancestry member has some information for me.  I spent hours on the Internet trying to find more information on the man in uniform at Fort Ontario, New York (top).   He looks similar to my great grandmother’s nephew, John Schofield, who I have a picture of with name and date (bottom).  It looks like John is wearing a policeman’s uniform in the second picture. Again I am not sure.  Both pictures came from my great grandmother’s photo
album.   Any help would be appreciated.
Barbara G.

20080118 JohnSchofield.bmp

New York City Tax Photographs

I received the following question in my e-mail this week: 

I remember within the last 6 months seeing a mention of a source for photos of each of the homes mentioned in a New York City census report – for the late 1800s.  This was a hint sent by a fellow family hunter, and I thought at the time that such a photo would make a good present for my daughter-in-law who knew little about her mother becaase she had died on the day that her baby was born.  I thought that I had made a note of the source for such pictures, but like so many good ideas, I can’t find the note.  Can anyone help? 

Thanks .. Mary Bready

I’m not aware of any photographs from the late 1800s, but the Municipal Archives in New York does sell photographs from around 1940. According to the website,

Between 1939 and 1941, the city photographed every house and building in the five Boroughs. Copies of these unique images are now available for purchase.

Click here to learn more or to order a photograph. It sounds like a lovely gift for your daughter-in-law!


Reader Request for Tips on Photographing Photo Albums

I received the following request for help from a reader seeking suggestions as to the best way to photograph old photo albums.  

I have just read the article on the old photo albums.  It brings a personal problem up that hopefully you or your readers can help with. I have some old picture albums and no scanner.  (Well, no scanner that I could scan them with, because I’d have to feed them into the scanner and that just wouldn’t work.) I do, however have a digital camera.  Do you have any suggestions on how to photograph these in order to get a good image?  I have all kinds of trouble with the flash on these old glossies.

Bill Gordy

My first suggestion would be to turn off the flash if you’re getting a glare. I’ve had success taking photographs of photographs laying them flat on my kitchen table and snapping the picture from above it. The light from my ceiling fan with the compact fluorescent bulbs worked perfectly, with no glare.

I’m betting there are readers out there with more great tips. If you’ve had luck photographing an old album or perhaps photographs in frames, post your tip here in the comments section below.

New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo2.bmpPosted This Week

Weekly Planner: Check Out Departments of Tourism

Last week I got an e-mail from the Illinois Department of Tourism. I’ve signed up for this type of e-mail for surrounding states in the hopes that one day the timing of a cheap getaway offer would coincide with me having a bit of extra cash and time off. (Hey, a girl can dream!) This week’s mailing came with several offers of “Winter 3-Day Getaways.” Incentives were offered for hotel bookings made through the site and there were getaways to “Discover Art & History.” Check the local department of tourism or chamber of commerce for an area you want to travel to for research and sign up for e-mail updates. It’s time to make your research travel plans happen.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

Saving Your Family Albums, by Maureen Taylor

A reader expressed concerns about her twentieth-century black and white pictures:

“I have my grandmother’s photo albums and some family pictures. The albums are black construction paper sandwiched between heavy black cardboard and held together by a string.”

Some of you may be nodding your head in agreement, murmuring, “I’ve got one of those.” In this case the images date from 1918 through the 1930s. She wonders what to do. She’d love to move the images to another album but then she’d lose the captions.

These albums present multiple issues. First there is the construction of the albums. The pages and the covers are made with acidic paper and the creator of the album used glue to affix the images to the page. The other problem is that the black paper may not be color-fast which mean if these pages ever got wet the color would leak out of the paper.

Back in the 1920s, few were concerned about the longevity of pictures. At that time the majority of nineteenth-century images in family collections were holding up pretty well. Daguerreotypes still sparkled in their cases, paper prints hadn’t yet become yellow and tintypes remained pristine. What was there to worry about? It was the color disaster of the 1960s (when color prints began to shift colors and fade away) that brought to everyone’s mind the future of their precious family pictures. Continue reading