Sunday, August 30, 2009


Last week we received a packet from the daughter of Jean (Deutsch) Kamerman - Jean being the eldest sibling of my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch. The packet contained many wonderful photographs.

Here's one of them - a photograph of Jean with her mother, Helen. We estimate Jean to be 16 or 17 in the photograph. Jean was born in 1899, so this wasn't taken much after Jean's arrival in America in 1913. (I've tried to do some internet research on Humboldt Studio in Chicago without success.)
Going through the stack of photographs, I stopped at this one and wondered if I was going to be able to enlarge the photograph enough to identify the photograph Jean was holding. And then I smiled as I proceeded to the next photograph in the stack.

There's no question it's the same photograph - and the label says it is my great grandfather, Samuel Deutsch - Helen's husband, and Jean's father. I find it curious why Samuel's photograph is given a central spot in the other photo. Helen did arrive in America first, in 1912, but Jean and the rest of the family arrived in 1913 together. So the photograph wasn't being used to indicate an absent family member. (I have a few family photographs from the 1940s where that was clearly done.)

It occurred to me that what made the photograph special might not have been who was in it, but when and where it was taken. Might it have been taken in Transylvania? Perhaps in a studio in Cluj - the nearest large city to the Deutsch's rural home village of Varalmas?

I compared Samuel in the photograph above to a family photo taken in the early 1920s. He definitely appears to be younger in the photograph above, though I am unable to judge how much younger. (The darn hat obscures how much if any hair Samuel has, though the color of his mustache suggests a number of years.) The youngest boy in the photograph below, Allen, was born in 1914. So the Deutsch family had been in Chicago for about 6-10 years when the photo was taken.

Something else that catches my attention is the changing hairstyles of Helen and Jean. I'm no expert on hair styles, but I suspect the first photograph illustrates a more European style which they had Americanized by the time of the second photograph.

1 comment:

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Congratulations on your photo discovery, John!