For a little over a month now, I’ve been sharing photographs from the collection of Edna Tully McCaughey. Some have been identified, providing a glimpse into the faces and places that made up that family constellation. But many were not labeled, posing many problems for someone like me who is only beginning to learn about period fashions, history of photography, and other hallmarks that permit rough estimations of time frames.
Today marks the point at which I finish displaying the last of these pictures. As has been my regret for almost three weeks now, I’m posting three portraits that bear no identifying marks, other than the imprints of each photographer’s studio. Each of the pictures was taken in Chicago—the only thing I can say for sure.
What a precious expression this first subject displays. This is someone not sure about smiling for the camera. The photographer seems unsure about identifying himself, also—leaving only a name sans address. Checking a historical directory of Chicago photographers, though, reveals that there was an Edwin L. Brand—though even the word recognition on the scanner used to digitize that directory’s record appears to have been corrupted, for the name includes several characters of gibberish, allowing it to evade search engines.
The victory of having found this entry by hand search, though, is short-lived. While working under his own name, rather than the Hartley’s Studio where he was also affiliated, the tenure for his business was quite broad. At different addresses, Brand’s business presence spans from 1859 through at least 1900, with the exception of the hiatus for work at Hartley’s studio from 1894-1897. This, of course, makes estimating the age of this picture difficult.
For the second photograph, done by Lindner on 9222 Commercial Avenue in South Chicago, the grouping may be of mother and daughter, or possibly older and younger sisters. I am reminded of another such pose in this collection, but restrain myself from photographic matchmaking once again. Perhaps a long-lost relative will surface and save me from my ill-advised tendencies.
A totally different setting is presented in this last portrait done by Hirsch. A handsome couple, both blessed with wavy hair and she sporting spectacles, are nevertheless unidentified and unrecognized—closing out the review of this collection in the same regrettable manner as has had to be employed for so many of these pictures. It was wonderful to be afforded a glimpse into the family life of these Chicago Tully relatives of the late 1800s, but oh, how I wish I knew who they were!