I’ve had this picture for years--it was a copy somebody made. In the last five or ten years, I wound up with the original. My mother allowed me to bring quite a few photographs home to scan and told me to keep them since I am so interested in the family history.
I knew these women were Aunt (pronounced AIN’T!) Cora and Aunt Etta Swope, my great grand aunts on my mother’s side. But I still had questions about the photograph:
Where was it taken? When it taken? How old were they? What kind of photograph is it?
I was able to answer the last three.
When was the photograph taken?
When I looked at it on my computer a couple of weeks ago, I thought, “I think I have the original of this.” Perhaps the date would be on the back!
Ages of dirt, water damage, and part of their names in pen greeted me. The photo had been rather unevenly cut with an apparently extremely dull pair of scissors. It also had been bent in half, as if to separate the sisters. I turned it over.
As I laid it down on my desk, the light from the desk lamp caught it in such a way that I realized there was very, very faint writing, probably in pencil, on the top half of the back.
Excited, I broke out every magnifier and light I could find!
But I just couldn’t make it out.
Then, I had an idea.
First, I took a picture of the back with my iPad and emailed it to myself. Next, I used the photo software on my computer to enhance the picture to make it clearer.
Dec the twenty n
ht teen hundred a
I had a date AND a bonus!
I used the POE to cypher the date:
1. It couldn’t have been taken in 1879; they would have been toddlers in the picture.
2. It couldn’t have been 1889; the third line would have been “htynin.”
3. They women in the picture are clearly grown, not pre-teens.
4. It was taken in 1899—the last “nine of the 1800’s. On the 29th of December.
The bonus involved the “HES” beneath the date.
I wondered why they always called her “Etta.” I also always wondered why she was the only child (of eleven) with no middle name. Apparently she did have a middle name, Etta. First name, Henri(y)! Huh!
How old were they?
Taking their birth dates from my grandmother’s bible, Etta was 23 and Cora was 21.
What kind of photograph is it?
I turned to Phototree.com to identify what kind of photograph it is. With the help of the website, I determined that it is probably a “cabinet card” because it has most of the characteristics:
♦ It was taken in 1899—when cabinet cards were still very popular.
♦ It is a thin photo mounted on heavy cardstock.
♦ It is sepia.
♦ While most cabinet cards were 6 ½” X 4 ½”, other sizes were made.
I still do not know where the photograph was taken, but three out of four “AINT” bad!