in 52 Weeks
Fashion and Old Family Photos
When I look at old photos I sometimes wonder about the fashion choices of the subject. Were they wearing a favorite outfit? Does their clothing reflect the fashion of the era? Or, are they simply making a personal fashion statement? When photographs were nearly exclusively for special occasions, the clothing choices reflected economic status, social standing, era, heritage, or profession. Whatever the case, many of my favorite old family photos show the subject in clothing I think is charming, humorous, or unique.
Earl and Pearl
I wrote about my paternal grandparents, Earl (1888-1928) and Pearl LaFara (1893-1972), for the post Close to Home.  I have always liked these portrait photographs of Earl and Pearl. The formal clothing they are wearing looks elegant, to me. So much, that a couple of years ago I tried my hand at colorizing the images. I imagined my grandmother’s dress in shades of her favorite color, purple. Hover over each image to see the monochrome or the colorized version.
I have this photograph of my maternal grandmother Edith King (1903-1989) from about 1920 wearing a sailor-style outfit. I have always thought this photo of her was amusing. For one, because she is posing by a hay rake which seems incongruous for a sailor.  For another, I do not ever recall seeing her wear pants. So, I have wondered how she came to have this sailor suit and I think I found the answer. My grandmother’s brother Charles King (1893-1968)  served in the US Navy during WWI. Presumably, he brought his uniform home after his discharge. I did a simple image search of the internet and it returned several photographs of WW1-era sailors posing in similar outfits. I have included one below, found on eBay, next to that of my grandmother. 
I’ve written about my great uncle Frank Flucawa (1883-1974) many times.  I remember Frank as the man who wore merino wool cardigans with a shirt and tie. But, when I look at old photographs of Frank I see him wearing a wide variety of clothing. Everything from kimono robes to flannel shirts and a jean jacket. But, the two I like the most he sports bow ties. One is from about 1907 in a very formal suit and the other is from about 1937 wearing a leather coat.
My aunt Lois LaFara (1917-2003) once told me the dress she is wearing in this photo (below, top left) was her favorite. She probably told me what color it was, but sadly I have forgotten. Here is another of my favorite old photographs. This is great aunt Roxie King (1895-1911) as a teenager modeling a charmingly oversized hat and coat (top center). On the top right, below, is a photo of my grandmother Pearl Osborne with her two sisters, Grace and Sadie, about 1911. I like this photo because of the hats, particularly the toque-like hat worn by my aunt Grace. The remaining three photographs (below, bottom row) are my great-great aunts Alma (1879-1968), Vada (1883-1966), and Maggie (1890-1965) Rumple wearing rather interesting outfits. All three are cabinet cards and are undated, but I estimate they were all taken about 1900.
Photographs are ubiquitous today and clothing is plentiful. What an individual wears in a photograph typically holds no particular meaning, unless it is a special occasion. But, pre-digital media, family photographs, and the fashions worn reveal more about the subjects.
My mother made many of my outfits when I was a child. Too bad we did not have easy-to-use point-and-shoot cameras or digital photography, then I would have photos of all the great outfits she made for me. Instead, I am limited to photos taken at Christmas or other occasions. Here are a few I could scrounge up.
From 1974 this is a swirl style skirt in gingham cotton with a coordinating wrap blouse. The skirt pieces were difficult to cut and sew.
I’m really sorry to not have photos of the two outfits my mother made from this pattern, at right. One was brown corduroy pants with a white fun-fur jacket, trimmed with the brown corduroy. The other was pants, jacket, and newsboy cap made from a taupe twill.
- Blog post, Family Finds: Close to Home; https://barblafara.com/close-to-home/
- Online image, Family Finds: Ella Rumple King and Edith King, on a hay rake; https://barblafara.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/EdithKingEllaRumpleKing1918.jpg
- Profile of Charles King, Website: Ancestry.com, Family tree: Osborne; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/5107484512/facts
- Online image, eBay: WW1 Young Navy Sailor; https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/mUMAAOSwtoBdhcVx/s-l500.jpg
- Blog post, Family Finds: Frank Takeo Flucawa; https://barblafara.com/frank-takeo-flucawa/
Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.
While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.
Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.
A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.
For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.
I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.