Dating cabinet card phtographs
If you think your clues are non-existent, don't worry. Narrow your search by knowing more about the photograph, i.e., what TYPE of photo is it, when was it TAKEN, who is the PHOTOGRAPHER, what do the CLOTHES look like, what AGE is the person in the photo and what distinctive FACIAL FEATURES are visible? The finished plate was usually mounted in a velvet case or a silk padded wooden case. A coating was applied to the glass plate to hold the silver nitrate on the surface.
However, verify the information there-you don’t know who wrote it or when.
Unsurprisingly, the collection is primarily made of actors in the strict sense, and the photos of them range from the tastefully classical: English actor Aubrey Boucicault (1869-1913), headshot in character. TCS 1.3244, Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University. Photographer: Elmer Chickering from Boston – Source. Clemens, known by the name Mark Twain (1835-1910), sitting and wearing a white suit. If you’d like to explore the rest of this fascinating collection, simply search for “TCS 1” in VIA, Harvard’s image access database, or visit us at Houghton Library, which is open to any adult researcher who wants to make use of our collections.
TCS 1.5265, Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University. This post is part of our Curator’s Choice series, a monthly feature consisting of a guest article from a curator about a work or group of works in one of their “open” digital collections. See this post in all its full page width glory over at The Public Domain Review.
The style of dress can also indicate a period of time.
If your family used the same photographer for a number of years, the changes in the logo will help you pinpoint the date of the photo.
We decided to start with the rich collection of more than 100,000 cabinet card photographs in the Harvard Theatre Collection, currently in the midst of a long-term digitization project. In fact, not all the subjects are human, such as the chess playing automaton Ajeeb the Wonderful.
So far we’re only through the first few letters of the alphabet in the collection of actors’ photos, but even that small slice gives a strong sense of the value and scope of the collection. Labeled “European comic eccentric ‘Bonitas’ family. TCS 1.2790, Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University. It should be noted however, that like his more famous cousin the Mechanical Turk, Ajeeb is merely a cover for the quite human chess player inside who secretly controlled his movements.
Contact the library in that area for copies of the city directories.
The directories will list the professional photographers.