Mystery photos of an attractive young woman posing for a portrait. How is she related to the NICHOLS and CARNEY family?
An attractive young woman poses for her portrait at the West Side Gallery of Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Could these be photos of Elizabeth Bell CARNEY NICHOLS, the wife of Charles Knerr NICHOLS , and the mother of Helena May NICHOLS? There are three cabinet cards. None of them are labeled. I would have been quite content if just one photo were labeled.
The card stock used for the photos is square and heavyweight, has different colors for the face and back of the mount, and gold beveled edges. These clues indicate the photograph might have been taken between 1885 -1890. If this is Elizabeth, she would have been 20-24 years old. Perhaps Elizabeth CARNEY exchanged photographs with her soon-to-be-husband, Charles NICHOLS. He had his photograph taken in 1892. During this time Elizabeth CARNEY lived with her parents (Phillip and Lucinda Jane Fiscus CARNEY), in Park, Armstrong, Pennsylvania. Park is located 26 miles from the photographers studio in Greensburg.
Using clothing and hair styles is another method to date a photograph. The young woman’s corset fitted style dress has a high collar, cloth covered buttons, and contrasting pattern lapels. She poses slightly different in each portrait. She also accessorizes her ensemble with variations. In the first photo she wears a satin ribbon around her neck, a straight gold lapel pin, and a gold chain looped around a button. (An observant reader noticed that the gold chain has a pair of scissors attached – thanks Janice Webster Brown of Genealogy Bloggers). The second image she chose an umbrella lapel pin. In the late 1880’s jewelry tended toward novelty. In the third photograph she ties the ribbon on the opposite side of her neck and wears the umbrella lapel pin. Her dainty gem stone earrings are the same in each picture. Her fluffy bangs and hair piled atop her head reflect a hairstyle typical for the late 1880’s. I consulted “An Illustrated History of Hairstyles 1830-1930”, by Marian I. Doyle, and found a photograph of a woman wearing a very similar hairstyle and dress. The estimated date was 1883-1886.
If only pictures could talk. What would this young woman tell me?
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