Heirloom photograph album from mid 19th century

There's a first for everything...

In my own 12+ years of dedicated genealogical research, the inadvertent discovery of a completely unknown photograph album filled with daguerreotypes, tintypes and carte de vistas of my very own ancestors stands alone as one of the most surreal happenings I can recall.  This just happened in fact--just a few weeks ago.

It is now time to draft citations for the content in this album, which I feel is the least I should do after the heir--a 4th cousin, it turns out--just self-conducted a cover-to-cover survey of this fascinating artifact, to also include high-resolution scans of the front and back of each image. (An enjoyable aside; the heir was formerly--and fairly recently--the editior-in-chief of a well-established academic journal.)

Anyway, here's what we have:

  1. A survey of the entire album in MS-Word format.  This document is comprised of a photograph of each page of the photo album, usually as one-half of a page, with text-overlay used to number each image in ascending order. (The numbers do not repeat).  These numbers correspond with paragraph-form notes about each image, these ranging from type of photograph (i.e. tintype) to hand-written markings on obverse or reverse side, or stamped printings from the photographer.  All text on every image was captured this way. Finally; the survey also logged markings in pencil on the album pages themselves.  This is important because theoretically, yes, someone could have removed a photograph from an album page, and placed it somewhere else in the same album at a later date.
  2. Most name identifications are on the album pages--not on the photographs themselves
  3. Provenance for album itself is pure

The challenge I see with citing these images has to do with inclusion and/or omission of content concerning photographs other than the one being cited--which are nevertheless relevant to the citation being authored.  I'll explain:

Let's say a page on this album has four photographs; two parents and two children.  Below the parents, are their names.  Below the children, are only the childrens' first names, or first and middle name.  If we cite one of these children, I think I have to also upload/include the entire page of the album, as well---or the relevant page from the above-mentioned survey done by the heir (who never knew about this album, either, until 2018!). 

Best practices or thoughts on how to proceed with this would be most appreciated.  Thanks in advance!


ps: irrelevant, but fun: here's one of the images; my 4th g-grandmother, Lois (Skinner) Weld 1778-1854 (probably a conversion to carte de viste from an original format of larger size)





Submitted byEEon Tue, 08/31/2021 - 09:01

What a a treasure you have, Ryan!  The cataloging done by your cousin definitely magnifies its value.

From a citation point, let’s simplify things. A photograph album is essentially a book, with “leaves” instead of “pages.” But it’s a book that’s not published; therefore, instead of publication data you would be citing current owner and provenance. Turn to EE 3.40 (or the QuickCheck Model at p. 105 of 3d ed. rev.).  This example is for a scrapbook, which is essentially the same.

The scrapbook cited at EE 3.40 is unpaginated. Odds are, the leaves of your photograph album are also not numbered. Depending upon how many leaves are in the album you may or may not want to count the leaves and say something such as “unpaginated, fifth leaf” or “unpaginated, fifth leaf, verso.”  Then add the identity of the person in the photo.

You ask how to handle situations in which there are multiple photographs on an album leaf. Again, let’s use the book analogy. Think of all the books you’ve used that have a photograph or map section. Those pages often have multiple items on a page. Sometimes, each item carries a “plate” number. Sometimes there is just a description identifying the subject.  If there’s a plate number, we copy it. If there’s just a verbal description of the photograph or map, we copy the identifying words.

Applying these principles, how about creating a citation to a specific item. Then we’ll have a concrete item to discuss.

You also have a second item that you may wish to cite on occasion: The album catalog created by your cousin. This would follow EE 3.22, Unpublished Manuscript.

Elizabeth, you're a godsend!  ..and TY for the happy sentiment---the album really is a treasure.  I have yet to see it with my own eyes, but digital for now is still surreal--and the scan quality is magnificent.

I was overly-focused on 3:20-3.21 for some reason.  No idea why, ha!  Indeed your scrapbook example makes logical sense; I'll self-number the unnumbered leaves (your presumption in this regard was correct), and do so in the in order they appear, then reference recto/verso as appropriate for images or a full side of a page.  Thank you--this clears that up ;-)

Indeed the plan was to also cite, separately for each image, the catalog/survey--forgot to mention this.  It si my hope and presumption this new new cousin I met, who made this survey, will allow the PDF itself to digitally attached to citations of same (for online trees).

While I have you; for provenance information as an appended standalone sentence to the full reference note for the album, my thinking was something along these lines: "Provenance:" followed by both names of the married couple who we know first owned the album (first, middle, (maiden) last) and probably YYYY-YYYY birth/death for these two persons only, but then after that simply do first-middle-last for each person the album was successively passed to.  Is this the usual way to do that? 

Thanks again for the clarification--it was very helpful.


Submitted byEEon Tue, 08/31/2021 - 19:40

Ryan, thanks for the kind words. The citation of provenance does not have a rigid format because the details of provenance can vary so widely.  EE has numerous examples of citing provenance for different types of sources. Just look for the word "provenance" in the index. (Or, if you have the Kindle edition, query for the word "provenance.")  The most basic advice is that the provenance details should answer the same questions that a citation answers: Who, What, When, Where, and Why should I believe this in the first place?

As you'll notice from EE's examples, adding the word "provenance" is not necessary. The provenance details that we supply make it clear to readers that we are identifying provenance.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Sun, 09/05/2021 - 18:37

Dear Editor;
It was pure good luck that Ryan asked the question he did. I'm trying to cite various pages in an old passport I have in my family archives. I believe it's a similar situation to Ryan's. I had more or less figured out that the pages should be cited as "Private Holdings: Artifact." I'm not sure that I could define a an actual Item Id in the passport, so I merged it and the Artifact Id field. In the passport, the pages are numbered, so I added that information prior to the semi-colon. And; the passport is still in the family archives. So there is no "year owned."

I may be overthinking things and seeing problems where none exist (something with which I struggle), but I wonder if the following format should work.

Source List Entry
Direction Générale de la Police. Patrick Jean André Morel passport (République Française, No 31691). 19 July 1955. Privately held by {archive_owner}, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Calgary, Alberta.

First (Full) Reference Note
1. Patrick Jean André Morel passport (République Française, No 31691), 19 July 1955, p. {page} of {pages}; original, {surname} Family Archives; privately held by {archive_owner}, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Calgary, Alberta. Provided to {archive_owner} by {donor_name}, ca. 1978.

Subsequent (Short) Note
11. Patrick Jean André Morel passport.