Photographic Clues

[Photographs of Gladys Foster and unidentified female, early 1920s, Terre Haute, Indiana, from author’s private collection]

These photographs of my grandmother were taken in Terre Haute, Indiana, in the 1920s. Only these three survive in my collection, and who knows if  more were taken? The clothing and hair definitely say 1920s. The length of Gladys skirt indicates the earlier part of the decade, before skirt hems rose to knee length. Born in late 1905, Gladys would certainly have been in her late teens or early twenties when the pictures were taken. The company name on the window provides a fantastic clue for when the photograph might have been taken.

Terre Haute city directory, 1924, Foster listings (image courtesy of

I already knew that my grandmother worked as a stenographer before her marriage. After high school she attended some kind of secretarial school. The whole Foster family (with the exception of the eldest daughter Lydia who had married and was deceased by 1924) can be found in the Terre Haute city directory. They lived at 2046 N. 8th Street. Gladys’ entry shows that she worked as a stenographer at Pierson & Bro. I could conclude that the photographer was taken about 1924, possibly on her lunch break with one of her co-workers.

As an added bonus, I found 2046 N. 8th Street on Google Street view. Fortunately, this house still exists (light brown in the center). (One of Gladys’ later residences was torn down and was replaced by a freeway!)

2046 N. 8th Street, Terre Haute, Indiana (Image courtesy of Google Maps)

©2018 copyright Deborah Sweeney
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8 thoughts on “Photographic Clues

  1. sifuyost

    My parents and I have just started searching our family tree. We’ve followed my father’s family (so far) back to the mid-1800s when they came to the U.S. And, my mother’s to the early 20th Century, when her great-grandparents came to the U.S. We’re working on getting into their home countries next. Thanks for sharing your photographs and story with us. I like how you shared those pictures. Really brings people to life and focus.

  2. coffeeandinsight

    Love this!!
    Also, isn’t it a shame that houses get torn down to make room for the freeway? The same thing happened with my grandparent’s home in Tennessee.
    The photos are amazing. The 1920’s is one of my favorite time periods!

    1. Deborah Sweeney Post author

      Thank you for commenting! I completely agree. It’s seems like a good percentage of the time, the old homes are torn down. On another branch of the family, the neighborhood/landscape is completely different and a corner drug store stands in its place.

  3. Amy

    Don’t you love those old directories? I have been able to find so many clues in those listings, telling what people were doing, where they were living, and with whom they were living and working. Goldmines!


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