Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finding the Source of some Photographs

My maternal aunt is in the process of moving, and she shipped a box filled with photographs and family letters. Included were these two photographs of her maternal grandparents (my great grandparents) Melvin and Margaret (Denyer) Van Every.

The is the back of the photographs

When I looked at the back of the first photograph, I said to myself, 'that's not possible.' I read '1926' as a year, and I knew my great grandparents were too young in these photographs for that to be the year. After looking at the second photograph, I knew those were just numbers for the photographer's use. But the photographs were marked as taken in St. Louis, and my great grandparents never lived in St. Louis. They may have visited my grandmother here. She moved here in 1920, but once again, they're younger in the photos than they would have been in 1920.

There was also the question of why it said 'Deutsch.' My maternal grandmother Myrtle Van Every, married my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, in 1936, after both my great grandparents were dead. Of course, Deutsch could have been a photographers surname, or for some reason it was being used to reference the German language, but it seemed too much of a coincidence.

I was unable to find any information on Chesshire Photographers. I looked up Scruggs, Vandervoort and Barney. It was a department store chain in St. Louis, which had its start in 1850. They opened a store in the St. Louis suburbs in 1951, only a few blocks from where my grandfather lived, though my grandmother had died a little over a week before it opened. Vandervoorts closed in 1969, but from 1992 to 1997, the building was used for one of the largest independent bookstores in the nation, Library Ltd. I spent many hours in the bookstore. The building was demolished in 2008.

However, the photographs were taken long before 1951. I estimated their age to be about the same as they were in 1900 when they had a picture taken with my grandmother, shortly after she was born. When I pulled up that photograph on my computer to compare, to see if my judgment was correct, I chuckled.

They're identical. Outfits, and poses. The background, the cropping, and the colorization is all that is different. At some point in time I believe my grandmother had the photographs created from the original. I'm sure the process at the time was a little more difficult than Photoshop. But I am confident I have found the source of the photographs.


Donna said...

Ha! Very cool find, and even cooler to realize the source.

Matthew Quinn said...

It is great to have cooperative relatives sending photos and info!