Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

September 30, 2006

Clues in an Ancestor's Military Photo

Question posted on mailing list September 26, 2006:

I have a picture of my father as a young man in WW1 uniform. He is sitting and another young man is standing. I have my father's "sign-up" papers from the Canadian Archives. Was it the custom to have photos of brothers taken at the same time. Would this type of picture been taken before they left for Europe or when they signed up and were in uniform.

My answer:

Traditionally it was very common for soldiers to have their photos taken in uniform before leaving for overseas (England). Usually a soldier was given leave to go home before being shipped overseas and that is often when these photos were taken.

If he had brothers, or a father or son who also enlisted, they would try to have a group photo taken. This was not always possible, as leaves for individual soldiers might not be in the same time period.

Many portrait studios such as Eatons, had template mats to enclose the photo. These mats were pre-printed had spaces to fill in the soldier's name, sometimes his unit plus other details.

These mats were often brightly coloured with the words "For King & Country" or "For Service in the Great War" (it varied). Ornate frames could be purchased which had the same wording. Sometimes there would be a Canadian Maple Leaf at the top which 'stuck up' beyond the edge of the frame

If there is no photographer mark on the photo (back or front) there are clues that might help you determine a date and place.

First Clue

Determine whether or not the soldier is in a Canadian or British uniform. I realize you obtained his records from the Canadian archives but both Canadian and British uniforms were used by the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force). Men were usually issued a Canadian uniform when they enlisted, and they kept this for everything done in Canada. After they arrived in England the Canadian uniform would almost always be switched for a British one. (The reason for this switch was that the British uniforms were better quality and lasted longer)

Here are a few of the differences that might help you determine if the uniform is Canadian or British:

1. Canadian uniforms had 9 buttons on front (7 on the actual front and 1 on each front pocket) but the British one had fewer, and they were larger. There is an exception to this - if the soldier was in a Canadian Highland Regiment, his top sometimes just had 7 large buttons

2. Canadian uniforms had pointed cuffs, the British had straight (horizontal)

3. Canadian uniforms (except for the Highland ones) had stand-up collars, British uniforms did not

Read the rest of this article to learn how to identify an ancestor's military photo

September 24, 2006

Ancestors on Board - coming soon!

Coming Soon!, in association with The National Archives, is proud to present Ancestorsonboard, a new database featuring BT27 Outward Passenger Lists for long-distance voyages leaving the British Isles from 1890 to 1960.

With Ancestorsonboard, you can search for records of individuals or groups of people leaving for destinations including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and USA - featuring ports such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York.

Search more ships passenger lists to North America on Olive Tree Genealogy

September 23, 2006

Exclusive FREE use of Ancestry Passenger List Databases!

Great news everyone!

I'm very excited to be able to offer exclusive free access to two of's databases. This offer is only available to visitors of Olive Tree Genealogy, and is made possible through a co-operative effort of and

FREE Database Number One is the very popular New York Passenger Lists 1851-1891 & 1935-1938 including Castle Garden passenger lists

FREE Database Number Two is the Boston Massachusetts Passenger Lists, 1820 - 1943

For a limited time (until Oct. 4, 2006) but only through Olive Tree Genealogy, you can search these wonderful records as often as you like -- with no obligation to purchase anything - and no credit card is required.

All you need to do is use the special links provided to register as a guest on Registration is simply your name and email

No other information is needed to enjoy this full and free access to these 2 databases. Please note, this is *not* a free trial, no credit card is needed, and it's only available through the URL above.

Feel free to pass this message on to others who you think might enjoy this opportunity to find an ancestor or two

September 22, 2006

Lost Faces - New Photo Albums online

Hi Everyone

I've been very busy catching up after my trip to the Boston FGS conference. It was a great experience and I enjoyed attending some of the workshops and the Exhibitions by sellers.

One of the latest items I've added to my websites since returning home are: New additions to the collection of 1860s and 1870s Civil War Era photo albums on Lost Faces

ALBUM #51 Bauder Zoller Civil War Era Bauder Zoller Family Photo Album with CDVs [Cartes de Visites], tintypes circa 1860s.

Surnames: Walt, Walters, Bowen, Bowder, Zoller, Snyder, Bauder,Moyer, Fox, Smith, Lampman, Fake, Keller, Cary, Hornkey, Hess,WIles, Johnson, Johnston, Sneck, Miller

Locations: New York, Rochester, Little Falls, Fort Plain, Minden,Cobbleskill, Syracuse, Amsterdam

ALBUM #52 CLARK NOURSECivil War Era CLARK NOURSE Family Album with CDVs (Cartes de Visites),tintypes circa 1860s.

Surnames: Nourse, Tarbell, Clark, Clarke, Chandler, Huntington,Thomas, Miller, Fisk, Fiske, Mermod, Rathbun, Rathburn, Davis,Gallup, Mahon, Wahl, Wate, WOod, Holly, Sposk, McNeal, Martin,Burwell, Milton, Ladd

Locations: St Louis Missouri, Washington DC, Providence Rhode Island, Switzerland, Ohio, Boston Massachusetts, Connecticut

ALBUM #53 Missouri
Civil War Era Photo Album with CDVs (Cartes de Visites), circa 1860s.

Surnames: Wilmont, Joyce, Tennant, Downey, Wood, Fowler, Fairchild,Larsen, McGuire, Durkett, Pluckett, Faby, Katy, Watson, Steeler

Locations: St Louis Missouri

ALBUM #54 Missouri 2 (Riverboat captain William Blake included)

Civil War Era Missouri Family Photo Albumwith CDVs (Cartes de Visites), circa 1860s.

Surnames: Orr, Blake, Felterner, Van Court

Locations: St Louis, Missouri

Album #55 COLE - CHANDLER in Massachusetts (Civil War Soldier

Civil War Era COLE - CHANDLER in Massachusetts Family Photo Album with CDVs (Cartes de Visites), tintypes circa 1860s.

Surnames: Prince, Cole, Swift, Jones, Taylor, Morton, Chandler,Chase, Griffith, Bradford, Rogers, Berry, Cobb, Rickard, Fuller,Cowell, Sherman, Shaw, Waterman, Barrows, Vaughan, Leach, Randall,Colby

Locations: Taunton Massachusetts, Boston, Bridgewater, Plymouth, New York, Middleboro, Fall River, Providence Rhode Island, Brockton

There are some gorgeous photos in these albums, and I am offering a quality reproduction service so as to allow all descendants to have copies of their ancestors photos. The tintypes are one-of-a-kind as that was the nature of a tintype - it substituted an iron plate for glass and is one of a kind. No copies could be made from a tintype.

Enjoy and feel free to pass any part of this message on to others.


September 18, 2006

New Ancestor Letters online

Ancestor Letters on Past Voices: Letters Home

These letters are so wonderful to read -- they speak of illness in the family, deaths, births, crops, weather,family and friends. I uploaded Canadian and American
letters, but still have dozens to put online. I welcome submissions, just go to the submission form OR send
directly to me in email at All letters remain the property of the individual submitter.

Here's what's new:

Letter to James A. McChesney, Esq., Port Ontario, New York,from A. C. Dickinson, Smith Town, July 13, 1844; postmarked Peterboro, U. C., July 22, 1844, and Kingston, U. C., July 24, 1844

Letter from Albert Bertram Mudge during WW1 to his mother in Guelph Ontario, 1915

Letter to William Robertson McGillivray in Ontatio, Canada from his brother James McGillivray in Egilsay, Orkney Islands, Scotland, 1857

Search the index to all Canadian letters

Letter to Alvah Bush, Albany New York, from her sister, M.M. Bush, Cooperstown, New York 1843

Letter to Mrs. S. C. Hoskins, Sheffield, Massachusetts, from her daughter Helen, Hampton, Virginia 1849

Letter to Mr. John H. and Anna Northrop, Hebron, Washington County, New York, from Lydia Wells, Lisbon 1829

Letter to Jacob Sharpless, care of Dr. Parrish, Philadelphia Pennsylvania from Blakey Sharpless, Weston

Letter from John McCoy, Captain of the Augusta Co. Militia during the Revolutionary War from Staunton, Augusta Co.Virginia to Thomas Jefferson, 1781 (yes, THE Thomas

Letter to unidentified person from Simeon Baldwin, New Haven, [Connecticut], January 4, 1808

Letter to Mrs. Mary Bradford and sister Sarah Jane, Northumberland,Pennsylvania, from Louisa, York Pennsylvania, 1839

Letter to Miss Charlotte H. Ladd, Boston Massachusetts, from her mother, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1830

Letter to Miss Mary C. Cook, Great Falls, New Hampshire,from Fanny, Concord, New Hampshire, 1847

Mr. S. Newton Dexter, Whitesborough, New York, from Miss Mary Dexter, Providence, Rhode Island, 1823

Letter to Mr. Franklin Hoskins, Sheffield, Berkshire County,Massachusetts, from Wm. Gleason, Jr., Moresville, New York 1840

Letter to Mr. Samuel V. King, China Grove, Georgetown, South Carolina, from M. L. Wilkins, Springfield, 1842

Search the index to all USA letters

Enjoy and feel free to pass any part of this message on to others.