photograph showcase

Photograph Showcase: Louise Maria Austin, age 20

AUSTIN, Louise Maria, age 20
Louise Maria Austin, age 20


A few weeks ago I shared a photo of my 3rd great-grandmother Louise Maria Austin when she was older.  I also have this lovely photo of Louise when she was, “20 years old,” according to the back of the photo.

My copy is clearly a reprint based on the Kodak paper it is printed on.  Both photos in my collection come from my Grandmother Mary Margaret Ellis’ collection.  They were found in a folder that she created and labeled as “CHENEY.”

The handwriting on the back of this photo is not my Grandma’s.  It might be her mother’s, but I am not certain.  Louise was my Grandma’s great-grandmother in a direct maternal line.  My Grandma’s mother, Blanche Octavia Huband, would have known Louise personally as Blanche was born in 1895 and Louise lived until 1927.  The photo likely came to my Grandma from her mother’s collection.  [Update:  The handwriting has been identified as belonging to Beth Louise Ellis, Blanche’s oldest daughter.  This identification was made by Beth’s son and daughter-in-law.]

I have shared a copy of this photo before in this post.  But I have no idea where I got that copy from.  (Insert sheepish smile here.  I hope I didn’t just download it and pass it on . . .  I know better now.)  Now that I have a physical copy of the photo, I was able to scan it at a higher resolution so I am sharing it again.  I also cleaned the photo up to remove dust, scratches, and the rather extensive fingerprinting along the bottom of Louise’s dress.  The original must have been well-loved and handled!

Here is the back of my copy:

AUSTIN, Louise Maria, age 20, photo back



Happy Thursday, I hope you discover a special ancestor photo very soon!  Or, I hope you will scan and share a special ancestor photo from your own collection.  Your cousins will be grateful!!  xoxo



16 thoughts on “Photograph Showcase: Louise Maria Austin, age 20”

  1. I commend you on doing this provenance project. It is something I have not done—family I never knew send me photos of people I never knew, and I have to trust that they know what they’re talking about. I did, however, have to stop yesterday when a photo sent to me by a cousin was labeled on the back with the name of someone who could never have been that young when the photo was taken. So now that and you have raised some doubts in my mind about trusting what I am told. But what choice do I have?

    1. I completely understand! I have many photos that have come to me in the same manner. You can still be clear about who shared the photo with you, how they are related to the individuals in the photo, and when they shared it with you. If nothing else, that will help those family members who have photos of the same individuals or have the same photo with a different label understand how the photo got to you and use that information accordingly as they consider their own photos. Also, preparing the soil for future discoveries is an important part of the process. You are the very type of cousin I am hoping to help. The cousin without the photos. I want them to have some degree of confidence in my work and be able to trust me. I especially want to be perfectly clear when I am making an educated guess on who is in a photo so that those same cousins will understand how important it is to me to be detailed and accurate.

      1. Excellent points, Amberly. I will keep this in mind when I am fortunate enough to be able to share photos I receive from cousins near and far.

  2. I immediately noticed the fringe chair she is sitting on. I once looked into this prop used by photographers as I found it in several tintypes I was working with. I thought it was a clue that all of the photos were taken at the same studio but then saw they were only similar. Nice cleanup on the photo.

    1. Thank you, Cathy! Haha, it’s funny how we can chase a “clue” that in the end isn’t really a clue. But, that just means we are looking for EVERY possible clue –– a very good thing!

  3. Lovely photograph. Had I read this earlier before you had the information about the handwriting I would have said it looks like it was written with a ballpoint biro like pen so you’d be looking at someone who was at least around when they came to be invented! 🙂 Glad you got an answer though for the name behind the pen!

    1. Thank you, Alex! Yes, definitely a ballpoint pen, but my great-grandma lived until 1984, so she was still a candidate to have written it. This handwriting question made me realize it would be a good idea to create a handwriting profile for each of my ancestors. I have plenty of samples and I am familiar enough with certain ancestor’s handwriting that I can recognize it, but wouldn’t it be cool to have a sampling from over the years to help out future researchers?

  4. The handwriting profile is a great idea. I have some photographs from my Dad’s side that have my paternal grandfather’s handwriting on the back, and some with my paternal grandmother’s handwriting on the back (sometimes shopping lists…) but a couple of photographs that were sent to family members by other family members with a message on the back. I also have a batch of photographs from my Mum’s side which mostly have my maternal grandmother’s handwriting on – as it didn’t seem like my maternal grandfather wrote on anything!

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