Family Group

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    Thirty-eight people (counting the baby at the far left.) Is it a family? Is it a church group? What do you think?

    Included are enlargments of certain areas of this photo.

    renata_lacarneiro, fantazma41, paws22, and 8 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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    1. annette62 96 months ago | reply

      some weird religious cult thing?

    2. ed ed 96 months ago | reply

      it's gripping this picture, to return to. you did a brilliant job in saving it. i keep trying to find the clue which will explain it, but there probably isn't an easy one. it could be the subject of some investigatory documentary or something, but then i guess it already is...

    3. anyjazz65 96 months ago | reply

      @A. Davey: Yes, I have pictures of church groups and they nearly always have one or two holding Bibles, there are always lots of elders and it is usually shot in front of their church entrance. We thought students and/or orphans too but rejected that idea for the same reasons, too many adults, not enough children. And no obvious “teachers” standing in a group or holding books.

      We are leaning toward a “younger” generation portrait too. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone old enough to be parents of so many children. There are some facial resemblances here and there and a couple or three of the women are dressed in the same print fabric. There are a few other observations that further help/confuse speculation:

      1) Although they seem to be arranged mostly in groups, there is one boy standing off to the left by himself.

      2) All of the males except the boy in the play smock, have dress jackets on.

      3) Most of the older women are dressed in solid dark colors except one in a bright plaid dress (center) and one in a lighter color (seated, right)

      4) One woman is wearing an apron.

      5) There are perhaps three hats hanging on the wall and perhaps one overcoat far right, but what are the buckets? Lunch pails?

      6) There is a door on the right, but perhaps that is the main entrance on the left. The children seem to be arranged on steps.

      7) On the left, behind everyone there is a bench holding what appears to be hats.

      8) Is that a tree stump in the foreground, right? The little blurs upper left are probably tree leaves.

      9) Through the left window, another window at the back of the building can be seen.

      10) The two tallest men seem to be engaged in some kind of activity. The one on the right has his right hand at the other’s jacket pocket. The one on the left has his left hand draped at the other’s neck. (There is a dark mark there that partially obscures it.)

      @ avleent: Except for the baby, none of them seem to be old enough to be parents of any of the others. Thanks, there was just enough left to work with. I found it at a junk shop in central Oklahoma.

      @Annette62: Ha! That was my first idea too but my wife says they don’t seem somber enough for that.

      @ed ed: Thanks again. You are right. The more I look at it, the more I see. Some of these old photographs with no known provenance are really fascinating. The mystery and the history draw the observer into them.

    4. ed ed 96 months ago | reply

      another curiosity is how harmoniously the grouping has been arranged. strange that one boy is on his own in the doorway on the left, however... i don't know why but it seems more institutional than family to me. i wonder where they come from?

    5. anyjazz65 96 months ago | reply

      Right again ed ed. It seems more friendly organization than family. The boys on the right are leaning playfully on each other, but probably not how brothers would. The boy in the left group is playfully hanging on to the tall one’s coat tail. Two standing women to the right of the post have their arms linked, as does two on the left. Two standing girls on the left are holding hands. One seated girl on the right has her hand on the shoulder of the standing girl in front of her. And that girl (handkerchief in waistband) seems to have a dress almost identical to the one just to the left (who has a handkerchief in her right hand). Yet with all these comparisons, the photograph just doesn’t seem to have a “family” feel to it. But, I’ve been wrong before, today even…

    6. ed ed 96 months ago | reply

      do you think they might be russian?

    7. ed ed 96 months ago | reply

      don't really know why i thought the first extract you've blown up above, don't you think the woman on our right and the tall girl three to her right look very similar (perhaps sharing a resemblance with the apron woman too?)

    8. anyjazz65 96 months ago | reply

      I really can't pin down the nationality. The clothing is pretty much early midwestern USA however and quite a variety of it too. Not to say the styles might have been other places too.

      You may be right about the resemblances too. Those three are close! I looked around face next to face as I was working with it and found several possibilities. One can only go from hairline, face shape, build, pose and coloring mainly. Using the same fabric in two dresses is a pretty good sign too. Other signs can be: An older brother will lean on the younger, sisters will hold hands, children are posed next to parents. But there is little of any of that here.

    9. del's1 95 months ago | reply

      Fascinating,,,I have been concentrating on the architecture,,,seems to have an Italian flavour or French there are window shutters behind which look pretty European,,Were shutters used in 19th Century In USA ? Though the building looks considerably older than the photo...Maybe even Greek....a mystery indeed!

    10. anyjazz65 95 months ago | reply

      Thanks del. The architecture does offer some clues. Early USA was largely built by immigrants bringing their own styles with them. Original buildings could be any style I suppose.

      Shutters are fairly common on the USA east coast I think. I suppose they are used anywhere for storm protection. I have seen them on Kansas farm homes. And they appear on the antebellum homes of the south.

      It appears to have wood shingles which would be common in the US. A tile roof, common in Europe would be scarce in the early US. But not impossible.

      You are right though, this could be just as easily somewhere in Europe. I have seen many European family pictures in antique shops in Smalltown, USA. Who knows how they got there?

      Someone also suggested that this might be just the right half of a larger picture. What seems the main entrance of the building is cut in half on the left and there are figures on the left edge. So maybe it was a “U” shaped building forming a kind of courtyard. That would seem more European. Maybe the adult men of the group were on the left. Maybe there is a companion photo. Maybe it was originally a panorama shot and this is the right half.

    11. (Gary) [deleted] 95 months ago | reply


    12. anyjazz65 95 months ago | reply

      It's a head scratcher all right.

    13. opie_jeanne 93 months ago | reply

      I thought it was a school too, at first glance, but there are not enough younger children and too many older ones. The close-ups show that some of the older ones are not teenagers; one woman looks to be well into her 30s, if not beyond.
      Does it look like a family photo to you? I'm so used to the oversized crowds that showed up for family photos in my hillbilly family that I'm willing to accept this as one.

    14. anyjazz65 93 months ago | reply

      I agree. Not enought little ones. Yet, it doesn't look like a school either. Doesn't seem like a church group either. I still think it is PART of a family. Maybe the cousins or something like that. I don't know. I also have the theory that it is the right half of a wider picture. Look at the way the ones on the left edge are kind of cut off. I just don't know. Belive me I have looked long and hard at this one.

      The adult women are a study all their own.

    15. del's1 91 months ago | reply

      OK Just revisited this,I have spent an 2 hours doing measurements,rather pointlessly,,I should just ask you what they are//The picture corresponds exactly to plate size 8.5x6.5..and looking at the picture it would appear to be the whole print as there are borders ,and assuming it hasn't been stuck to a back ground.
      Looking at the lady in the light squared dress who is obviously the centre of the picture and is approximately 1/2 inch to the left of where she should be , I think you are looking at a photagraphers error, not a picture with something removed. This would have been printed directly from the plate, no enlargers were used. So you have the complete picture but not as intended, I suspect. Photos being expensive this wouldn't have been thrown away. The question is did he realize his mistake before the plate was developed and make a correct shot..? Some how I doubt it, hence the existence of this strange picture,,chhhers del ALL we be solved if you give me the actual dimensions,,

    16. anyjazz65 91 months ago | reply

      I got out the original hi-res scan of this and let Photoshop measure it for me. I just cropped to the particular shape and let PS tell me how big it was.

      The mounting board is a fairly standard cabinet card at 4.24X6.14 inches, probably worn away some.

      The PAPER the print is on is 3.907X5.412 inches. The actual picture (or plate) size (see some white perimeter particularly at the right and left edge) is 3.84X5.038 inches

      You are right about the woman in the plaid dress; she must have been the central figure and since the whole print is off center to the left, that might be why the figures on the left are cut off.

      I might add that I speculated some time back that the photos that I find in “antique” shops might not always be LOST photographs. They might be photographer’s rejects. I have encountered on more than one occasion, two or three prints of the same photo, each printed or retouched slightly different. See this one for example, there were three prints of this one:
      Twice as mad...
      Once I found some prints with the actual instructions for retouching written on the back.

      Thanks for looking into this. Each bit of information helps us understand the provenance of these old prints.

    17. Dominique Sanchez [deleted] 87 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Group portrait, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

    18. Dorothy1941 56 months ago | reply

      Lately I have been doing some sightseeing around the province - there was a museum in an old poor house. The photo above greatly resembled a photo of poor house residents that was on display in the museum.
      The only difference is the lack of elderly or infirm residents.
      Wasn't it the Doukabors who had communal dwellings?

    19. anyjazz65 56 months ago | reply

      When I get back to my office I'll do some research on that. Thanks for the nudge.

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