Tag Archives: Photography

A Funeral

Another three photographs create a grouping in my collection. Since everyone is dressed in black—at least they seem to be in the black & white photographs—I assume the foursome attended a funeral. Again, the time frame appears to be the mid to late 1920s. None of the women are wearing jackets, but the ground is covered by a light layer of snow. The tree limbs are bare. The photographer is unknown (since they never make an appearance). The petite woman standing next to Gladys is believed to be her Aunt Minerva, fraternal twin to Gladys’ mother Emma. Minerva’s dress is old-fashioned compared to Gladys’ stylish frock. The longer skirt hem and squarish collared neckline hearkens back the the World War I years. James (Jim) and Emma stand in the background. He was quite tall; his shoe can be seen on the ground next to Minerva’s feet. While Emma stands on the lower step—her boot just visible behind Gladys’ legs—creating the illusion that mother and son are the same height.

Gladys, Emma, & Jim Foster, with Aunt Minerva (Photograph from the author’s private collection)

I do not know whose funeral generated these photographs—especially since the mood is not particularly somber. Gladys smiles in both pictures. I have not discovered a Foster or Lawhead relative, living in the Terre Haute area, whose death occurred in the late 1920s, who would have prompted such a reunion. Perhaps I will someday…

[Photographs from the author’s private collection.]

©2018 copyright owned Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2018/01/28/a-funeral/

Another Photographic Series


[Emma (Lawhead) Foster holding her grandson, John Yegerlehner, 28 January 1932, Terre Haute, Indiana, photographs privately held by the author.]

Sometimes we know when photographs are taken. In this case,  my grandmother probably labeled the photographs, as the one of the far right refers to Emma as “Mother.” I do not know the occasion for the photographs, but the photographer (again most likely my grandmother) took several.  We think nothing nowadays of taking picture after to picture to get the correct shot, to make sure everyone is smiling, eyes are open, etc. Not so in the previous centuries. Film cost money, and you didn’t know what you shot until the film was developed.

FOS1932 James L. Foster with John - Terre Haute, 1932-02-28

James L. Foster, holding his nephew, John Yegerlehner, 28 January 1932, Terre Haute, Indiana, photograph privately held by the author.

If the photographs had not been dated, the automobile provides a great clue, especially to all the old car experts out there. Emma’s dress—although we don’t see much of it since John is in the way—does give some clues as well. Gone is the dropped waist of the 1920s. Seated on the car’s sideboard, the top of Emma’s dress blouses over a waist (left). Soft pleats may also be visible at the hip line (right) as well as a longer skirt. These are clothing characteristics of the 1930s. A great place to look for everyday clothing styles of the 20th century are the Sears catalogues, found at Ancestry.

Sears catalogue, Fall 1931 (Image courtesy of Ancestry.com)

©2018 copyright owned Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2018/01/22/another-photographic-series/


Jamboree 2017

For the past two years, I have attended the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree. Four days of genealogical heaven, listening to speakers from around the country, like Judy Russell, Elissa Powell, Dr. Thomas Jones as well as our top genetic genealogists CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger. This year I debut as a speaker. I am presenting one of my favorite topics Fashion and Photography. Some of my readers may remember the series I did a year or so ago–Fashion Moments. This lecture draws from that series of written blog posts. As some of you may know, there are many great free resources out there for identifying different fashion trends. Lots of eye candy, too!

I will also be participating in the NextGen panel, discussing different ways societies can reach out to and recruit younger genealogists. Additionally, I will be be selling and signing copies of my books in the Author Nook. I hope to see you there!


2016 – A Year in Review


Working at the library

A week ago, I honestly didn’t think I was going to write a year in review blog. Yesterday, I pulled up the post I wrote for 2015 and decided it would probably be a good idea after all. Looking back gave me some much needed reflection. What are my goals for 2016? I feel somewhat scattered as there are several projects that I want to undertake, but I am unfocused and a little unmotivated at present. I work best when I write stuff down in lists, but I seldom take the time to do so unless I have an imminent deadline and prioritizing is essential.

I had four main goals for 2015, and I accomplished 50-75% of them. The two 100% successful goals were publishing the second volume of World War II letters, Lots of Love, Daddy, and working on my skills as a genealogy lecturer. The book was finished in late September. At over 400 pages, it is almost twice as long as the first volume Dear Mother, Love Daddy. The project was a lot of work and I am going to step away from the letters for a little while. The second goal, to improve my skills as a genealogy lecturer, is also going well. I have spoken to three northern California genealogy societies this year as well as continued to give free lecturers at my local library. For 2017, I have already accepted speaking engagements for two northern California societies, for the main branch of the Sacramento library’s genealogy department, and for SCGS’s Jamboree (a national genealogy conference in Southern California).

Lots of Love, Daddy cover

The Second Volume of Letters

Goal number three was to publish an article in a national or state level periodical. Technically, I published an article in the Utah Genealogical Association’s magazine Crossroads in late 2015, but I wasn’t aware of it until 2016. Additionally, I wrote a guest blog (online) for the NextGen genealogy network. However, neither of these truly fulfill my intention of writing for a national or state level periodical. My goal was to write a family history or lineage so I give this goal a 50/50 completion rating.

Goal number four was to lay the groundwork for my BCG portfolio, anticipating that I would go on the clock sometime in 2017. I did do some work towards this. Finally seeing completed portfolio’s at the BCG table at Jamboree made some of the elements, like the KDP, finally click for me. I had to throw out the family I was going to use as I didn’t need to “prove” any of the relationships. I pretty much had direct evidence for everything. I have a new family chosen that fits the parameters of the KDP, but I haven’t had the time to focus on any research since last summer. Ultimately though, at this point, I am not ready to jump in and go on the clock so I don’t feel like I accomplished this goal.

What I accomplished in 2016…

  • Published Lots of Love, Daddy 
  • Attended SCGS’s Jamboree
  • Submitted speaking proposals to SCGS’s Jamboree and was accepted to speak in 2017
  • Gave first paid lecture to the Roots Cellar Sacramento Genealogy Society, followed by lectures to the Solano County Genealogical Society and the Placer County Genealogical Society
  • Gave three additional lectures at the Franklin Branch of the Sacramento library
  • Continued to volunteer once a month at the library, dispensing genealogy advice and assistance
  • Finished transcribing and posting over 1,300 letters written during WWII (the end of a 3½ year project!)
  • Began organizing, transcribing, and posting the 1960s letters from the Yegerlehner family archive
  • Scanned hundreds of Yegerlehner family slides, including some photographs from Roscoe’s & Gladys’ 1964 world tour
  • Recruited two maternal family members to DNA test. Sadly, I had several people turn me down on both sides of the family. 😦
  • Inspired by the three sibling DNA chromosome mapping technique that has been very popular this year, I began chromosome mapping the DNA of two sibling pairs (my brother & myself, as well as my two children)
  • Wrote four brief family lineages which are posted on this blog under the “lineages” tab (this makes some nice cousin bait!) and I wrote some of my research down!
  • Completed my application for the Mayflower Society based on the lineage of my ancestor Myles Standish and was approved
  • Began migrating some of the WWII letters and some family documents to archival safe Hollinger boxes and folders
  • Attended the Sacramento African American Family History Seminar with keynote speaker Kenyatta Berry
  • Organized the Kerschner/Scofield collection of letters with the intent to start transcribing them in 2017
  • Continued to post daily on the blog (4th year in a row) with over 2,078 posts since November 2012
  • Wrote the new framework for an update of my 1998 book The Descendants of Jacob Troxell 1787-1885 of Fayette County, Indiana
  • Laid some basic framework for my BCG portfolio, viewed several portfolios at Jamboree, and rethought my KDP and other elements…

First page from the original Troxell book

Goals for 2017 – Speaking and Writing

  • Write a new addition of Jacob Troxell of Fayette County, fully sourced and using a reasonable exhaustive search. The new volume will be similar in scope to the silver Mayflower books. All descendants from generations 1-3 will be fully discussed, and the fourth generation will be named. Eventually I plan to write a second volume starting with the fourth generation. There is only one living person from the fourth generation (that I am aware of) and he is in his nineties.
  • Continue to transcribe and organize my incredibly huge family archive. I feel very blessed by this collection but I am continually overwhelmed by all the information I have to process and preserve.
  • Broaden the scope of my speaking opportunities as well as develop more presentations

Odds and Ends…other stuff I might like to do

  • Submit additional Mayflower lineage(s)
  • Write a finding aid and complete inventory for the WWII letters
  • Work on the third volume of WWII letters
  • Scan more slides
  • Map more DNA chromosomes and find more maternal relatives to test
  • Have fun and make more amazing genealogy related discoveries!


©2017 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2017/01/07/2016-a-year-in-review/

Fashion Moments – Detachable Collars

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to detachable collars.

The Detachable Collar

According to the Arrow shirt website, in the 1820s, Hannah Montague formulated the idea to remove the collars from her husband’s shirts for ease of laundering. Soon after, Ebenezer Brown and Hannah’s husband, Orlando Montague, began manufacturing collars in the back of Rev. Brown’s general store in Troy, New York [1]. There are many conflicting accounts of what happened next from various sources. However, the city of Troy became the leading manufacturer of detachable collars during the nineteenth century. By 1897, twenty-five companies based in Troy were making over eight million dozens of collars and cuffs per year. [2].


Arrow Collar advertisement, 1907, illustrated by Joseph C. Leyendecker (Image from Wikipedia in the public domain).

Detachable collars were typically made of a material different from the shirt, from cotton to linen, and were made in only one color – white. Because they were detachable, the collar could be starched to a cardboard-like rigidity. While most detachable collars were made of starched fabric, some later collars were actually made of stiffened paper and were disposable after a few uses. Collars were attached to the shirt with a set of studs, one in front and another in back. Examples of different collar styles can be found in old catalogs. Though typically marketed to men, detachable collars were also used by women, especially during the era of the Gibson girl. By the 1920s, the use of detachable collars began to decline as more comfortable styles of clothing became popular. However, the fashion can still be seen today in the winged collars of British barristers and on rare occasion on the pupils of Eton College. [3]

Woman Worker making Arrow Collars, 1906

Woman worker making Arrow collars, 1906Source


[1] ArrowLife, website (http://www.arrowlife.com/heritage : accessed 28 November 2015), “Heritage” page. Some sources say Hannah had her brilliant idea in 1820, while others state 1827.

[2] SuitYourself.com, website (http://suityourself.com/History_Of_Dress_Shirts.asp : accessed 28 November 2015).

[3] “Some Notes on Dress at Eton College,” Internet Archive Wayback Machine (http://web.archive.org/web/20081011175000/http://www.archivist.f2s.com/bsu/Miscellany/eton/eton-notes.htm : accessed 28 November 2015), anonymous article by an Eton pupil, October 2008.

Further Reading

Amazon Drygoods (a completely different company than Amazon, and has been around a lot longer, too!) is the only remaining manufacturer, according to their website, of detachable collars. In my theatre days, we regularly ordered detachable collars from them. They still have a variety of collar styles available for purchase on their website.

An comprehensive blog article about the Arrow Collar Man and its illustrator Joseph C. Leyendecker. The Arrow Collar Man was such a huge marketing sensation that many women thought he was real. The book The Girl on the Magazine Cover by Carolyn Kitch states, “Cluett, Peabody & Company, the firm that made Arrow Collars, received on average of 17,000 letters per month from women writing to the Arrow Collar Man, some of them proposing marriage.” In contrast, Dayneford’s Library: America’s Homosexual Writing, 1900-1913 by James Gifford takes note of Leyendecker’s indifference to women in his Arrow Collar Man illustrations, thereby making them the “first American representations of gay sensibility to gain wide distribution.”

A history of the Arrow brand can be downloaded from the website American’s Greatest Brands:  http://www.americasgreatestbrands.com/volume11/pdf/AGB_Arrow_v11.pdf

Blog article, “Detachable Collar & Tunic Shirt,” from the Morning Dress Guide website.

Working Women of Collar City: Gender, Class and Community in Troy, 1864-86 by Carole Turbin

Troy: A Collar City History by Don Rittner


Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Woman Worker Making Arrow Collars, United States, 1906.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed November 28, 2015.

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/11/29/fashion-moments-detachable-collars/

Fashion Moments – Zipper

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the zipper.


Elias Howe (the inventor of the sewing machine) patented a device in 1851 called a “fastening for garments.” It bears a resemblance to a zipper although there are key differences in the design. Howe did not market his patent and it took another forty years for this early seed to grow.

Howe fastening for garments, 1851

Howe’s 1851 patent

The idea of the modern zipper began in the mind of Whitcomb L. Judson (1846-1909), an inventor from Chicago. The majority of Judson’s work (and fourteen of his patents) were related to street cars. Most of his inventions were impractical. After several unsuccessful attempts to produce and operate his pneumonic street cars, the project was scraped and the cars were converted to electricity. With the failure of his street car venture, Judson turned to “clasp-lockers.” In 1890, Judson invented the device which would eventually evolve into the modern zipper. This early version was used primarily in shoes although it was not wildly successful. It is believed that Judson turned to “clasp-lockers” because he was tired of fastening his high buttoned shoes. Between 1890 and 1893, Judson submitted multiple versions of his “clasp-locker” patent. The final design was approved and it was debuted at the 1893 Chicago’s World’s Fair. Overall, Judson received limited success with his “clasp-locker”. Ultimately, the “clasp-locker” was never used by clothing manufacturers and remained a fixture for boots and shoes. [1]


Sundback’s 1917 patent

After the death of Whitcomb L. Judson in 1909, Gideon Sundback continued to improve upon Judson’s 1905 patent. Sundback was the head designer at the Universal Fastener company in Hoboken, New Jersey. After three years of review by the patent board, his design was approved in 1917. This “separable fastener” would later be known as the zipper. The term “zipper” would not be used until eight years later, in 1923, when B. F. Goodrich (the well-known American industrialist) coined the phrase while marketing a new type of rubber galoshes which used Sundback’s “separable fastener.” [2]


© 2015 Deborah Sweeney

In the 1920s, the zipper was used primarily for boots and tobacco pouches, not for clothing. It was not until the 1930s when the zipper made its debut in children’s clothing where it was marketed as a tool for promoting self-reliance thereby allowing children to dress themselves. By the end of the decade, zippers were regularly being used for trouser flies and the plackets of women’s skirts and dresses. [3]

Since the 1930s, zippers have evolved tremendously. They are used everywhere from deep space to undersea exploration and are constructed from various materials including metal and synthetic polymers. They are arguably the most common type of closure in use today.

Further Reading

A great tool for finding patents can be found at http://www.pat2pdf.org/Ancestry‘s database of patents only contains patents from 1790-1909. This tool allows access to any patent, as long as the patent number is known.

Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty by Robert D. Friedel. Available from Amazon.com or your local library.


[1] Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Whitcomb L. Judson,” rev. 17:55, 10 November 2015.

[2] Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Gideon Sundback,” rev. 17:55, 30 October 2015.

[3] Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Zipper,” rev. 04:48, 15 November 2015.


The patents of Elias Howe, Jr. and Whitcomb L. Judson can be found in Ancestry.com‘s “U.S. Patents and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909” database.

Gideon Sundback’s 1917 patent can be found on Wikipedia, and is the public domain.

Zipper photograph by the author Deborah Sweeney

© 2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/11/15/fashion-moments-zipper/