8:43 AM


Welcome back to my blog
Above- This albumen print shows Amos Broadnax with his family in St Louis, Missouri I date this image to be ca. 1856-1859 based on the info below.

Before Christmas, December 12, 2010  I  sent a letter to the Montclair Pubic Library asking them for a copy Amos Broadnax's family photograph (he was the St Louis Salesman who wrote the 1855 journal I own). In quick time, according to research standards, I got a reply January 4, 2011 that they found it and I can come in with a camera to Montclair, New Jersey. It took me another couple weeks to follow up with them and then a couple of days to talk with my experts about dating this image. So, really from start to finish on this one project, it was- as my friend Greg French would say, wickedly fast!


How did I get the image? In my younger days I would have jumped in the car and drove. Google maps says its only 2 1/2 hours but with traffic, this would have been 3 1/2 or maybe 4 hours. So, what's a researcher suppose to do if they can't hop in the car? 
  • 1. Remain calm, crying or complaining that a document is too far away to get it doesn't help.
  • 2. Be thankful we do live in a digital age and the internet can be your best friend.
  • 3. Ask politely if the image can be scanned and sent electrically.
  • 4. Remember publishers need a quality image (400-600 dpi) which your email can't download
  • 5. Ask for the image to be emailed to SendSpace which can take up to 30MB files
  • 6. Remember to thank them for their help & make sure you get the correct citation they want (so others who want the image can easily locate it).
I hear you, what's the link for SendSpace 

The Montclair Public Library was wonderful and sent me a 20MB image and I promised them I would forward this to Joan Severa & see when she thought this picture was taken. 

My husband Matthew says this is an albumen print (and I agree), Amos is wearing the style of southern gentleman attire and we both agree St Louis is a southern city. The clothing is definitely attire for the summer months. The child is William who was born in 1853. Since he is wearing pants and shoes, I figure his is about 4 to 6 years of age.  

The image is a copy on 20th century paper taken most likely of a CDV in St Louis, Missouri where Amos and his family lived until 1860-1861.

Enjoy the emails back and forth with Joan:


Subject: Now I have an image you can see


Hi Joan,
I sure hope you are OK with all this snow. I don't even think about 
Leaving the house when its bad. Our governor would prefer us to stay off the 
Roads and so I watch a good movie or work on my blog.
 
Two weekends ago we attended the American Historian's Conference, it was
huge and we really enjoyed getting out. We had dinner with Greg and Evelyn 
his soul mate and several other Boston friends.
 
The Montclair Library sent me a good scan and here's the image pics.
This is a copy of an albumen....1850s....no photographer stamp (because 
It was probably on the back).
 
Amos Broadnax was in St Louis until 1860-ish when he moved back to NY 
And then NJ.
 
It is hard to see the Mrs. collar but the left side dress is white 
Because the photo has chipped off. So, What do you think now? Hairdo, shoes,
clothing et al. Love to hear-
 
With Warm Regards,
Elizabeth

ENLARGE BY CLICKING IMAGE - the flounce appears to have a colored 
netting sewn on and topped with lace.



Elizabeth--
 
Brief response:  I could be more specific if I could tell how wifey's 
Hair is done, but I' m THRILLED to see the rare flounced skirt--cut "`a
disposition", or lengthwise, as the border striped bands are printed the
long way of the fabric.  I believe it to be a mid-'50s fashion, but that
isn't very precise.  Also, the white at her bosom and neck is a chemisette, 
made something like a dickey, with ties at either side at the waist and 
under the arms to hold it in place under the dress.  The large oval brooch is 
also not early '5os, but at least mid.


 
I don't have time to look it up now--more later if I find anything more
specific about it.
 
Joan

Hi Joan,
Thanks for the citation.....wow!

I see I have several more emails from you, but this will have to 
wait cause we are headed out the door. I promised the guys at the
library that I'd be posting some info about this image and here- 
you have saved the day...I mean night!

We are off to see a play we have season tickets for and my 
gallbladder has been acting up (feeling sea sick)and I am going 
to give it a good 
try and wear something comfortable. If I feel 
really too bad, 
we'll come home early.

Elizabeth



Elizabeth--

Found it!  On P. 96 of "Dressed for the Photographer" I quote Godey's, April
1855:  "A handsome flounced dress is always more expensive than one with 
a plain skirt, and ladies of ample fortune are apt to give a preference to what 
only a limited number can afford to wear."  I go on to say that flounces,
especially those `a disposition, were used through 1859.  
There are no portraits with flounces in that book, which dealt with poorer
and middle-class subjects.

In "My likeness Taken", the  focus is on a wider economic range.  The image
on p. 106 features a summer flounced dress of pale sheer fabric, with a bertha 
of the same fabric, a tiny belted waist with the bodice tightly gathered in, 
full long sleeves over full white undersleeves, and a flounced skirt. Too
sweet.  It is dated 1850.

Jenny Lind, p. 116, had her image taken by Southworth & Hawes in a
full-flounced costume in 1850. She surely had money!

Now I'll leave and go magnify the image of the gentleman.  More later!

Joan 
For those want to know more, click on the Jenny Lind Link above for Wikipedia. She was the singing Nightingale and toured the USA with P T Barum...her name was promoted and attached to many wares such as this Jenny Lind Bed.
Elizabeth--

Amos is wearing a narrow ribbon tie in a popular loose bow, and the white
trousers could be summer pants from anywhere 
In the States.  We see them with both black coats and white linen ones.  Not
so often with tail coats, and I do not profess to 
know whether this is a southern affectation. I wish I could see his hair,
too--if he has the oiled top puff so frequently seen, 
the portrait would likely be dated ca. 1852---that is, give or take a
year--the common interpretation of "ca." Then, however, 
his tie would almost certainly be folded to about 2" wide, and tied in a
level bow, with one side pulled further out than the other.
I'll stick with mid-'50s.

By the way, on closer examination, it seems the small print of the lady's
bodice matches the skirt of the dress (very blurred) and 
may not be open over a chemisette, but with a small opening filled with a
sheer ruff, which may indeed be part of a small plain 
chemisette.

Lord that's a homely little boy.

Joan

Hi Joan,
Yes, tell me more...love more to post. What is Amos wearing around his 
neck? Matthew thought he was wearing a Southern fashion with the light 
colored pants and tails on his jacket. I see William's boot and it 
laces up but doesn't look like it had a tongue.
 
Glad to hear you think its mid-1850s because it was a St Louis 
photographer and that is a home run for me.
 
Elizabeth



Elizabeth--

Amos is wearing a narrow ribbon tie in a popular loose bow, 
and the white trousers could be summer pants from anywhere 
In the States. We see them with both black coats and white 
linen ones.  Not so often with tail coats, and I do not 
profess to know whether this is a southern affectation. 
I wish I could see his hair, too--if he has the oiled top 
puff so frequently seen, the portrait would likely be dated 
ca. 1852---that is, give or take a year--the common 
interpretation of "ca." Then, however, his tie would almost 
certainly be folded to about 2" wide, and tied in a level bow, 
with one side pulled further out than the other. I'll stick 
with mid-'50s.

By the way, on closer examination, it seems the small print 
of the lady's bodice matches the skirt of the dress (very blurred) 
and may not be open over a chemisette, but with a small 
opening filled with a sheer ruff, which may indeed be part of a 
small plain chemisette.

Lord that's a homely little boy.

Joan




Elizabeth--
 
Just took another look, and I should mention a couple more details:  
that is 
an expensive black Chantilly lace shawl, and it is worn over 
very full bell-shaped sleeves, somewhat short on the arm, with narrow 
black trim, and there is a bracelet pushed high on the forearm seen 
through the shawl.  


 
Amos' turned-up collar is early- mid '50s.  Also, I THINK his beard hangs 
over the knot in the tie--otherwise, if that blob is the tie, it is a 
silk kerchief knotted loosely, with one pointed end hanging free.  Hope 
you can manipulate Photoshop to clarify! I sure know my notes would have 
been more clear if I had the photos in hand as I wrote.  Should have 
printed them.
 
Joan

Thanks for reading until the end...I know Robins Egg Bleu loved this one-
Talking about fashion is a good time of the year, since many reenactors
are sewing new dresses to wear.