Monday, June 10, 2013

The Rise of Black-and-White and Color Photography
Karen Utter Jennings

After the turn of the twentieth century, the art of photography grew steadily. George Eastman founded the new age of photography with black-and-white snapshots. Brownie box cameras were easy to use and cheap to buy. It was the beginning of a new way for people to try their hand at taking photographs. In 1900, a quarter of a million Kodak Brownie cameras sold for one dollar each.

With the simple cameras in the hands of more people, photography studios and
travelling photographers had competition. Autochrome photographs were taken from 1904 to the late 1930s and these are identified by their shades of gray and sepia tones. They may appear to be faded and hard to identify backgrounds and details. Use care when handling these old photos.

During the early years color photography remained a commercial undertaking for trained photographers only. Color paper prints were produced from 1941 to the present. The Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome 16mm movie film in 1935 and negative film became available from Kodak in 1941. Eventually, Polaroids were popular due to the ability to snap a photo and wait while it developed inside the camera.

From 1948 to about 1965, many early cameras were used with roll film. The different types of film produced different sizes of photos. Many of those types of film were discontinued in the last few years.

As the years passed and we entered the twenty-first century, photography continues to be a popular and special hobby as well as a profitable business. Digital photography is one of the most-loved ways to take family photographs.

Today’s cameras are high-tech devices offering multiple advanced features that guarantee amateurs a perfect photograph. Photographers can do it all: preview the shots as you go and discard the bad ones, shoot an endless number of pictures then save and store them on small SD cards, then upload to computers and print your prized possessions.  

The old black-and-white and color photographs are the basis of family photograph collections. Since these prints often fade in time, the best way to preserve them before they do fade is to scan all your photographs to media storage and then keep the originals in a cool, dark and low-humidity environment.

Storage of photos includes websites where you can upload all your photographs and retrieve copies of them whenever you need to do so. There are multiple online websites to help you create photo books, also.

Many times family researchers digitize their photographs and put them on media such as CDs and flash drives and camera cards to share with family members. This is the new era
In many family photograph collections, there are torn, faded, cracked and worn pictures. Besides taking your photos to a specialist who can restore them to their original likeness, there are scores of computer software you can purchase to help you do it yourself. Adobe Photoshop Elements is one of them. There are other programs you can purchase as downloads or buy the program and place it on your computer yourself. Do your research; talk with people who own such software before you make your decision. They can be pricey.

The old black-and-white and color photographs are the bulk of my own family photograph collection. They are dear to my heart. In many of them I can identify everyone in the photograph, and date the time and place it was taken.

I caution you about using the date stamped at the bottom or the side of the photograph. It does not always mean that is when the photograph was taken; it only dates when the film was developed. Many people waited, sometimes for years, before they took their film rolls in to be developed.

Go through your own photograph collection and begin sorting, labeling, and organizing them. You will be happy you did!

The History of Real Photo Postcards

The History of Real Photo Postcards
Karen Utter Jennings

Postcards have been around since 1861 and there are several different types. Vintage postcards are highly collected by fans. Those who study and collect postcards, known as deltiologists, are serious about their collections. Libraries, historical and genealogical societies, and other organizations as well as private individuals collect them. Postcards can be purchased from online dealers as well as flea markets and antique stores and from private collections.
For our purposes, we will talk about real photograph postcards or RPs. Around 1900, photography had grown into a popular hobby for many people and the latest craze was sending a postcard with a photograph printed on the back. These are called real photograph postcards; the word “real” was used to explain that the postcard started as a photographic negative. They were reproduced by developing them onto photographic paper the size and weight of postcards with a postcard backing. 

In the beginning, postal service regulations required there be no writing on the address side of the postcards. In 1907, the regulations changed so that the postcards had a dividing line where the address could be written on the right side and a message wrote on the left side. This is called the divided back era.

From about 1915 to 1930, to save ink, most postcards were printed with a white border, also called “White Border Postcards.” After 1930, the new printing processes used colored ink and a high rag substance that gave a linen-like finish to the photographs. This process, called the Linen Era lasted until about 1944.

After 1944, known as the Photochrome Era, real photographic postcards declined and gave way to the postcards that we know today as the tourist-type cards we send while on vacation.

If you own real photo postcards with no way to date them, here is a brief guide to follow. This information does not include everything there is to know about identifying and dating them.  
First, check the price of the stamp in the stamp box on the card. Postal rates steadily rose over the years. The stamp price for mailing cards between 1898 and 1917 was one cent. It rose to two cents from 1917 to 1958. From 1958 to 1962, it cost three cents and from 1963 to 1967 postage rose to four cents. During 1968 to May 1971, the cost rose to a nickel.

If your photo postcard has no stamp attached, check the border around the stamp box on the postcard. If the postcards were produced on Kodak paper, known as “AZO,” they had special borders during special years. From 1904 to 1918, some borders had four triangles pointing up. From 1907 to 1909, the stamp box border had diamonds in the corners. During 1918 to 1930, some borders had two triangles pointing up and two pointing down. During 1922 through 1926, borders might have empty corners. Finally, in 1926 through the 1940s, the stamp box borders had squares in the corners.

Please note that there were other papers used to produce real photo postcards, but I reporting about using the most popular, AZO. has a large photograph collection on their website. They offer real photograph postcards of people, hometowns, cities, homes, historical places, and businesses. There are over 200,000 in the collection as of this writing.

If you are interested in learning more about real photograph postcards, there is tons of information on the internet about societies and associations dealing with postcards of all subjects. Dealers are constantly on the hunt for collectibles.

To write this column, I used several interesting internet websites as well as the book,
“Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs,” by Maureen A. Taylor. (Cincinnati, OH: F&W Publications, 2005).

Book Basket Review: Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer has a unique plot and characters that will "steal" readers' hearts from the first few pages....

When a preacher is kidnapped from a train that is taking him to his new congregation, he soon realizes that God's plans are not his plans. Neither was falling in love with the outlaw's daughter.  But there's trouble brewing and the past catches up to many of the characters. Can the parson help or hinder his new congregation and the friends he has made? Does the parson want to give his heart to beautiful Joanna, but more importantly, will she accept his love since her father is the kidnapper and an outlaw? 

Writing with her well-known wit and humor, Karen Witemeyer has another smash hit with this historical inspirational romance. ~Karen Utter Jennings 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Book Basket Review: Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

Fans of Civil War stories or women in historical settings will want to grab this engaging book by author Jocelyn Green. Ms. Green takes readers into Gettysburg and shows them the horror of 1863 when thousands of wounded men are brought into a makeshift field hospital. Liberty Holloway is thrust into opening her fledgling Liberty Inn to the bloody, war-torn, men fighting for their lives. Quickly she is recruited to help the one and only doctor on his mission to try to save as many lives as possible. 

Liberty's journey through the span of five months brings her hopes and dreams to a halt as she encounters horrific death, a mystery man whom she swears she's met before and as she is forced to face her past, there are twists and surprises at the end. The story is laced with truth from the historical events that changed the lives of those who endured the painful aftermath of the emotional battle between North and South.
Widow of Gettysburg is inspired from the research that Jocelyn Green did at the Adams County Historical Society archives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. From the letters, diaries, and the first-person accounts of those people who lived through this historical period in American history, Ms. Green writes of the women behind the Gettysburg event. 

Available now at your favorite book source, Widow of Gettysburg is Book 2 in the Heroines Behind the Lines series that is published by River North Fiction, an imprint of Moody Publishers. And while you're at it, pick up Jocelyn's Wedded to War, Book 1 in the series. ~ Karen Utter Jennings 

Monday, May 13, 2013


You won't want to miss this Memorial Day weekend, 2013 event in the Southwest Missouri Ozarks!  The 1897 courthouse on the Pineville square has been renovated & now will house the museum. Words cannot do justice to what the old courthouse now looks like! Beautiful doesn't even come close.....

Get ready to come for fun, food, family gatherings, friendship & money prizes! See you on the Pineville square on Memorial Day weekend, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

By Karen Utter Jennings

 These two types of photographs come from the Victorian era or from about mid 19th century to early 20th century and are easily recognizable.

The carte de viste (CdV) photographs are the size of calling cards, which measure 2 1/2 x 4 inches. Because of their size, a series of photographs could be produced on paper and then cut into eight individual cards. The size may vary, however, because commercial suppliers began mass-producing cards and the images had to be trimmed to fit the card size. Many were careless in their trimming, so you may run across some CdVs that are angled or otherwise varied.

People who went calling on their relatives or neighbors used the carte de vistes. Before leaving, they would leave their CdV.  They became popular in the 1860s and royalty, politicians, actors, and other famous individuals had their image made into these photographs and signed them. The Victorians prized carte de viste photographs and collected them.

These photographs were popular during the Civil War. President Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant had their photos taken this way. To accommodate people’s collections, albums were made to hold the prized cards. It would be fortunate indeed, for someone to have an album full of these beautiful Victorian treasures among their family photograph collection!  

To identify a carte de viste, first measure the size of the photograph. The paper print will be mounted on a commercially produced card. Look closely at the subject in the picture and notice their hairstyle and clothing. Carte de vistes were produced into the very early 1900s. These small prints may appear very faded and grainy.   

Cabinet cards replaced the carte de vistes. They can measure from small, 5 inches x 7 inches to larger ones, 5 inches x 10 inches. A customary cabinet card is a photo mounted onto thicker card stock. There is extra space around the photo and you will find the photographer’s studio imprint (if there is one) at the bottom. These are albumen images and will have a yellow-brown or purple-blue tone. But sometimes they may appear black and white. That is due to the process in which they were developed. The last cabinet cards were produced around 1925.

These photographs were named due to the Victorians displaying them in their parlors, especially in cabinets. The cabinet card was an admired type of photograph that displayed family groups. By this time, photographers began to use props or complex scenes in studios using ironwork chairs, gates and fences, fake trees and grass, or ornately constructed window and doorway sets.

To identify cabinet cards, note their measurements and observe the color of the paper image. Note if they have gilt and embossed decorative borders and an imprint giving the photographer’s name & the location of the studio. If the card stock is separating layers on the edges, they were probably made after 1870.

The Victorians treasured all things, especially their clothing and jewelry. Cabinet cards document their love of the elaborate. Children’s pictures may show them poised with their dolls and toys or bicycles and wagons. Look for women in fanciful hats and gorgeous gowns and men with pocket watches, mustaches and their dapper dressing. Such as Robert Calvin Utter "Dock" & his wife, Matilda Roll Utter, shown below: 
Notice there is no studio imprint at the bottom of this photo.

 In the photo above, the studio imprint is on hte side of this old photograph. Taken in Monett, Missouri, before the turn of the century. 

When Kodak introduced the Brownie Box Camera around 1900, cabinet card photographs declined in popularity.

While researching these two types of photographs, I found a lot of conflicting information. Writers, photographers, and collectors all disagree on definite dates the carte de viste and the cabinet card photographs were introduced and about how they were produced.

I love these types of photographs and in my collection, there are cabinet card photos of babies, children posed with their pets, men sitting beside their faithful dog, women in huge hats and family groups in various settings. But, not all of them have the photography studio imprint.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

by Karen Utter Jennings

Defining types of photographs will help you discover which photos you may have in your collection. I cannot possibly include all of the information known about each type; this is a simple overview.

Daguerreotypes are images attached to glass plates. There were wet plates and dry plates. The finished photo was placed in a double frame of decorated foil-like brass to protect the glass.  Many times artists added color to jewelry, lips and cheeks of the person in the photo.

Calotypes are images produced on paper. Since these types of photos were not popular, most of the surviving photos can be found in museums or other intuitions. They are defined as faded, pale images, sometimes appearing yellow and very discolored.

Ambrotypes are negative images developed on glass with a dark coating on the back. These images were covered with another layer of glass, and then sealed behind a mat for protection. It was enclosed in a metal case.

Tintypes are also called ferrotypes or melainotypes. They were printed on thin blackened sheets of iron, then coated with photo chemicals and varnished for protection. These came in sizes from 8x10 to postage stamp size, or “gems.”  To test whether you have a tintype, hold it to a magnet and if it sticks, it is a tintype.

The photo above shows my great, great grandfather, Thomas Nathaniel Johnson as a young man in Indiana. He was my great-grandmother's father who migrated from Indiana to Southwest Missouri after the Civil War. He lived in McDonald County, Missouri, where he raised his family. In later years, Pa & Ma Johnson moved to Rocky Comfort where they died in 1951 & 1949 respectively. Notice Tom's tie is painted on the tin type. The original size of my photo is a wallet size.
Albumen prints are early paper photos made from paper coated with ammonium chloride and egg whites. From the process, the photographer could make multiple prints. If you look closely at these types of photographs, they appear glossy with a creamy coloring.

Carte de vistes are also called card photographs and come in varying sizes. They were popular for folks visiting others in their homes, where they would leave their visiting card. The government taxed the common card photographs. Look at the backs of these and you might find revenue stamps.

Stereographs are easy to identify. They are two matching images mounted side by side. They have a 3-D look when they are viewed through a stereoscope. If you find the photographer printed on the backs of these, research to find the date of the images.

The early black-and-white snapshots are identified by their shades of sepia or gray tones. They are printed on card stock and come in varying sizes, depending on the size of the negative.

Photo postcards were printed on paper with postcard backs. They are also known as “real-photo” postcards, a person could send a picture and a message to others. Look on the postcard side for the stamp box and other design elements. Travelling photographers usually have their imprint somewhere on the photo card. In the old photo below, you can see the traveling photographer's imprint. This photo is of Leander Scott (L.S.) Utter & his family. L.S. Utter was my great, great-grandfather's nephew who lived in Barry County, Missouri. 

Autochromes are those photographs taken from 1904 to the late 1930s. They were created using a process of dyed starch grains to create the image on glass plates. To identify them, the dyed
grains may give the photo a hazy look.

The color paper prints were produced between 1941 and the present. These prints come from 35mm film. To identify the era in which they were taken, look at the details of the photo, such as people’s dress and hairstyles or the styles of homes and other elements in the picture.

Finally, there are the instant photos, taken from about 1947 to the present. These photos are easily defined as having a white border and a glossy picture. They are layered and have thick plastic backings. These photos tend to fade, so you might scan all your instant photos to other media, and store the originals in a dark and cool environment. 

The source I used to help write this column is a great book, “Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs,” by Maureen A. Taylor. (Cincinnati, OH: F&W Publications, 2005).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Karen Utter Jennings

            When you look at a family photograph collection, you will see all types of pictures: tintypes, paper prints, cased images, Polaroids, black-and-white, color, and digitalized. Through the years, types of photographs came and went quickly. That is why there is a good market for buying, selling, and collecting photographs today.
            Here is an overview of types of photographs.
            Daguerreotypes were made from about 1839 to 1870. The sitting time for these types of photographs could be anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes. Photographers sometimes used clamps to help their subjects sit still.
            Calotypes were the first paper images and were made from about 1841 to the late 1850s. These types of photos were not very popular. The ones surviving today are usually found in museums.
            Ambrotypes were the negative images made on glass plates with a dark coating on the backs. They lasted from about 1852 to the early 1870s.
            The tintypes, also called ferrotypes or melainotypes, were actually created on a thin, blackened iron sheet, then coated with chemicals, and varnished to protect the image. There is much more information about the popular tintype photographs, which I will cover in a future column.
            Albumen prints, from about 1850 to the early 1900s, helped make photography a profitable venture. They were also printed on paper.
            Stereographs were prints were nearly identical images mounted beside each other and viewed through a viewer called a stereograph. They were popular from about 1854 to 1938.
            Cabinet card photographs were made from about 1866 to 1906. The photographic images were put on large, oversized card stock. I have quite a few of these cabinet cards in my collection.
            George Eastman founded the new age of photography with black-and-white snapshots. During the late 1880s to the present, these prints were taken with box cameras that were easy to use. Eastman named his new camera the Kodak and the company’s promotion was geared to specifically women and children.
            Photo postcards are a special class to me. I own a precious photo postcard dated February 1912. The photo shows my paternal great-grandmother, 17, holding her son, my grandfather, Perry Utter. On the postcard side, she wrote to her younger sister in Rocky Comfort. There is a lot of information pertaining to photo postcards, which I will write about in a future column.
            Auto-chrome photographs were the first color prints and dated between 1904 to the later 1930s. There are special handling tips for owners of these types of prints.
            Color paper prints are well known to us today. The Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome 16mm movie film in 1935 and color prints with negatives in 1941. The popularity of Digital Imaging in today’s market ended the manufacture of Kodachrome film.
            From 1947 to the present, an instant photo is recognizable due to the photo having a thick black pouch-like backing. Polaroids became popular due to the consumer snapping a photo and waiting for a few seconds while the photo developed inside the camera, not needing to take film to the store for development. Special care is necessary for these types of photos.
            Today, using digital cameras is the popular way for photographers to take their family photos. Digital imaging goes along with scrap booking treasured photos for fun and easy creative projects. While many people embrace digital cameras, the cameras requiring film continue to be popular. 
Sources: “Photography as a Tool in Genealogy,” by Ron and Maureen Taylor and “Getting Up To Date,” Family Tree Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 7, November 2010.