|Carte de Visite ca 1870s|
Boak Photo, Driffield & Pickering
So my husband suggested we try to figure out where each photo was taken. The early Cartes de Visite from 1860 and 1870 and most of the 1880s and 1890s cabinet cards were all taken by photographers based in Yorkshire - Driffield, Sheffield, Leeds, Bridlington Quay, and Filey.
The 1920s photos were not studio photos, they were taken with home cameras and had no locations except for one which was stamped Brantford (Ontario Canada).
Our first step was to scrutinize the 1920s photos with a magnifying glass to look for obscure clues. And slowly we were able to sort those photos into three separate locations based on vegetation in gardens and yards, architecture, shape of windows in background houses, shape of doors in background houses, snow (indicating a northern climate), a car with a driver (steering wheel on left, not right so not England), etc.
Some of these photos showed that the street was filled with attached homes and the home at this location was a large brick home. We believed it was taken in N. America, most likely Ontario.
It seemed obvious that there was more than one family (or branch of a family) and they interacted at each other's homes. It reminded me of my Grandmother who lived in Guelph Ontario and how she and her family interacted with her brother who lived in Toronto. I have photos of each of them at each other's homes. Perhaps that was what we were looking at in the Kirby album - siblings visiting each other.
We brainstormed a couple of ideas and theories:
1. Buster belonged to one person/family living at Location B and was never taken to Location A
2. The pictures represented one family who moved from A to B (or B to A) and the reason Buster was only at one location was that he died or they got him after they moved.
|"The Whole J. Family|
One was an elderly woman in a long black coat or cloak labelled "Mother is 76 years and growing younger every day" We noted that this was not the same elderly woman in Location A and D Location. This tiny bit of writing gives us a small clue to the elderly woman's year of birth. Assuming ca 1920-1930 as the date the photo was taken, her year of birth might be 1849 give or take 5 years.
The second was a photo of four women labelled "four generations"
The third was a group photo of several individuals labelled "The whole [J?] family" We think the initial is "J". This photo shows the same elderly woman (Mother) and one of the woman in the photo labelled "four generations" so my bet is that she is the daughter of 76 year old mother. If it is a family group, the man could be her husband and the children could be theirs.
There was a fourth location which had photos of Buster the dog, and an elderly woman. This elderly woman also appears in photos in Location A but not B.
We became pretty convinced that the Kirby Photo Album began its life in Yorkshire England and ended up by 1920 or earlier in Ontario, possibly Brantford. I also started to wonder if Maude M. Kirby was the first owner and then the photo album passed into other hands, possibly a daughter.
I should stress that this investigation has taken my husband (Brian of AncestorsAtRest) and I days. It's not a quick or easy task and it's definitely not for the faint-hearted! But we love doing it.
Some theories are developing which will be up to me to research to either prove or disprove. I've searched just by first names found on the few photos with any identification. That has not been successful so I plan to narrow my search to Ontario. I will also try "guessing" at the surname, using Kirby which is the only surname in the album for the family. So all photos with first names will be searched adding the theorized surname of Kirby.
My journey of discovery continues and through this blog I will share the clues, the discoveries, the successes and the failures in my hunt to discover where this album belongs and what family held it so dear for over 60 years. Readers can follow along with me by using the link for Kirby Photo Archive