Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Did They Name That Baby?

My daughter is a collector of books on names and their origin. Names have meanings, and each name’s meaning is important to her.

Looking through her collection one day, I was amazed to see the title of a book I remember my own mother once owning: What Shall We Name the Baby? First published in 1941, this title is evidently a classic. If not, it at least poses a classic question.

For each of these cherubs I’ve found in the photograph collection of Edna Tully McCaughey, I’m sure the parents gave pause to consider that very question. They may even have agonized over the selection of just the right name. Here’s the rub, though: whatever their decision, no one took the time to note that carefully-crafted choice on the back of these pictures. The only thing I can surmise about the subjects of these portraits is that they are Tully relations.

This little one, above right, sweetly captured by the Madsen studio on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, may have been the apple of a Tully father’s eye, or perhaps was the child of another family living somewhat to the south of the 92nd Street neighborhood that William Tully’s family frequented in the late 1800s. If only the ones who adored her had thought to mark the back of the card that captured her likeness!

With a perky bow placed just so in the hair of this next sweetheart, she made a charming subject for parents who chose to do their business with the von Dieck studio on 92nd Street in Chicago. Was it family preference that led these parents to select this photographer? If so, would there be a relationship between this child and others represented from this studio? I’ll never know; there was no marking on this photo to help determine that.

It may not be a lack on the part of Chicago parents of that era, though, for this collection includes another proud set of parents—this time from Milwaukee—with the same problem. The studio that captured this sweet portrait was Broich and Kremer on 116 Grand Avenue. The parents, however, neglected to note those carefully-selected baby names.

Perhaps this is not a geographically-spreading epidemic, though. Perhaps it is a genetic failing. I must confess to the same fault. After all, didn’t everyone know that was my sweet daughter in all those photographs that I have given away?!


  1. Such sweet pictures.

    Michael J Madsen was at 11316 Michigan Avenue from 1897-1900.

    He really liked that chair - another picture by him here -->

  2. And as you discovered, Theodore Von Dieck, 184 92nd St. & Ontario Ave., Chicago, IL (1899-1900) *cab card. He was born about Jan 1844 in Germany, emigrated to US 1880-1882. His son Theodore Von Dieck, Jr., photographer, born about Aug 1869 in England, owned studio by 1910. See 1900, 1910 Censuses. But I would suspect the pictures were from 1899-1900 or so. Farside of Fifty has a good eye for girl-boy and dates... far better than I do.

  3. The photo from Milwaukee is much earlier - Hugo von Broiche and John Kremer were partners only for a short while around 1875-1880. I found a mention of Broiche and Co. with J Kremer dated 1875, so perhaps they became "full partners" (e.g., Broiche and Kremer) after 1875 - but before 1880.

  4. oh, my, you make me want to take out my passel of baby pictures --- mostly tintypes --- and try to identify those babes. I know, in a general sort of way, the names of the families and the towns, villages, counties in which they lived. But oh, how babies tend to look so alike!!

    Loved your pics.


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