Who Were They? looks at vintage photos to try to catch a glimpse of those who came before us, primarily focusing on the 19th century but delving into the 20th century at times. When names are found, Who Were They? will research the family to try to learn more about the person in the photograph, and if possible identify living relatives. Sometimes the threads of genealogical research can be followed while other times they can’t. Researchers are welcome to take a name and run with it, but please post your results. Sometimes the finding of a descendant is more exciting than finding the original photograph!

If photos are returned to a descendant, resulting in a Family Reunion, I accept no payment. This is my gift to descendants and fulfills my sense of obligation to families everywhere.

Photos are considered the property of Who Were They? unless otherwise specified as being on loan or shared by other fans of old photos. Photos are not for sale. Images copyright to Who Were They? 2010. If you are interested in a particular image please contact us directly.


44 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pdxsnapshot
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 21:25:05

    I love your site. I’m adding it to my blogroll. I too find old photographs fascinating.

    I have a site that specializes in images of people standing in front of their cars, a rather common phenomenon that seems to span cultures and ages.

    I hope you’ll visit and consider adding me to your blogroll.


    • mrsmarvel
      Aug 09, 2010 @ 21:35:04

      I have a picture of myself in an evening gown in front of my mothers porche back in 1987. Yes there is something about posing with a car. :-)


  2. ReadersHeaven
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 00:54:20

    Hi, nice to meet you !


  3. Bob Scotney
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 11:45:39

    I could spend a long time studying old photos.


    • mrsmarvel
      Jan 07, 2011 @ 17:10:51

      There is so much to learn, isn’t there? Even if what we learn is that people haven’t really changed all that much.


  4. savethephotos
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 18:18:14

    Added you to my blogroll too! :) Nice to see others sharing these old photos


    • Mrs Marvel
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 22:15:50

      Thank you! I love your site as well. We need to stick together and preserve all this great photographic history!


  5. Doug
    Apr 30, 2011 @ 10:17:27

    Interesting site you have here. I love old research and old photos. Thanks for stopping by my crazy blog and leaving a nice comment!:)


  6. Jess Becker
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:21:41

    I’m LOVING looking at all your photos!! Sometimes the only glimpse into their history that a family gets is the photos left behind! I do have a question for you… I have family pictures that were taken by CC Frane out of Vermont, IL but I also have some taken by Frane out of Lorimer & Gravity, IA. Do you have any idea if they are one in the same as I know that Frane opened several studios in that region? Thanks for any help!


    • Mrs Marvel
      Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:32:50

      I haven’t seen any photographs by Frane from Lorimer & Gravity, IA, but I can tell you that photographers were often itinerant. Since Mr. Frane was once partnered with Mr. Bronson, it stands to reason he might have set out on his own to open a studio further west. I looked on LangdonRoad.com which is a great resource for photographer information and they did not even have Mr. Frane listed at all that I could find. I’m sorry I’m not much help for you, but keep searching. You can look on the census records as well to try to find a person by their occupation.


  7. Amy
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 15:54:46

    Wonderful site! I love the old pictures. I recently came across some old family pictures that sadly did not have names on them. I am trying to figure out who they are. What brought me to your site was googling the name Dewey. Maybe I will send you copies of my old family pictures and someone out there might know who they are.


  8. Janice Silver
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 14:48:04

    I have several old photos of relatives I cannot identify .. it is sad not to know who they are. I was just skimming over some of the ones I have scanned in to my computer and noticed on one of them the bottom of the “cardboard” says F. H. Lesperance – they are all from Ogdensburg NY… I have several from Jas. Dow also. I will attach 2 very interesting ones…. an old picnic and an old boxing. I do not even know the time frame of these pictures. guess I can’t attach pictures, I will see what facebook has for your site.


  9. Ray Jackson
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 00:26:05

    I acquired about ten vintage photos off of ebay. The phots came from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago, Ill.; and Arcadia, New York. I would like to get them out on the web and came across this website. Is anyone interested in seeing them and how do I go about posting them? Ray J.


  10. Khalida al-Katib
    Nov 27, 2011 @ 14:45:59

    I absolutely love your site! I’m currently writing a short story for a college class assignment set in the Victorian Era and was browsing your photographs for character inspiration. There are two particularly on here that caught my eye and I was wondering if I might use them in the story outline powerpoint presentation I must put together for my class? I will credit them directly back to you :). Many thanks in advance!


  11. Khalida al-Katib
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 00:09:22

    Thank you! They went over very well in the powerpoint presentation for the story!


  12. Family Photo Reunion
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 09:42:19

    Hi Mrs Marvel,

    Great site! I share your passion for old photos and genealogy and have added you to my blogroll. I post old family photos on my blog as well, hoping that descendants will find the photos. I hope you will consider adding me to your blogroll, too.


  13. Brian Powell Photography
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 06:34:10

    Great blog :) I’m a photographer in the midwest and also collect vintage prints. You might be interested in my ‘vintage’ series on my blog: http://brianpowell.info/?p=6735

    I found you when researching this print by D P Thomson!


  14. Andy
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 03:42:13

    Hello – trying to find an email address to contact you regarding one of your images – but can’t find a means of direct contact on the site. Could you let me know one I could use?


  15. Charles
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 00:19:19

    You don’t know what brought about that change, of boys in the 20th century no longer being started out in dresses. Gee, shouldn’t it be obvious, with some thought? It took many long centuries of horseback riding to put men out of skirts and into pants (THAT was the cause and NOTHING else); so, as time progressed, so did the trouser habit come to encompass even very young males. It happened again, with the 17 million USA women in factory work in the second World War—it took 1 and a half generations after that for trouser bans against females to be rescinded almost everywhere—because women in pants became a majority, and majorities cannot be persecuted. The trouser/skirt division of the sexes has no basis in reality. Definitely a skirt is not female in the same sense as a bra is female. The skirt is ASSOCIATION, the bra is ANATOMY. Men in many parts of the world in 2012 wear skirts as men with no female impersonation overtones.


  16. Sharon Curl Remmey
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 09:27:53

    My mother inherited a box of photos on her Sargent/Burnham line in the 1960s. Some are from Hardy and Van Arnam. Unfortunately there are no names on any of the photos.


  17. Wanda B. Victorian
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 08:31:48

    Just found your blog. I do a weekly feature on my blog about cabinet cards. I show a cabinet card and attempt to date it. One of my cards is currently traveling back to it’s family and rightful owners. http://wandabvictorian.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/another-cabinet-card/
    It is a good thing.


  18. Trackback: GUEST POST: Mrs Marvel on ‘Things I’m Glad Are Out of Style’ | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things
  19. Mark M
    Jun 21, 2012 @ 18:08:50

    Mrs. Marvel, I sent you a message using the “contact” feature at the top of the page, but never received a reply. I was wondering if you would be willing to take a look at some of my old family photos I have been trying to get dates placed on?


  20. grishmanphotography
    Nov 18, 2012 @ 03:01:15

    Beautiful blog, big like :-)


  21. Trudy
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 05:25:00

    Hello, I also love old photographs. My way of helping others is to restore old photos. I have a site of flickr.com where I post some of what I do. I would like to have your permission to restore some of your photos, I could post them with a link back to site if you wish.


    • Mrs Marvel
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 10:11:45

      Hi Trudy – contact me through the “contact” feature and we can discuss further off line. Sounds interesting!!


  22. Daniel Scott Smith
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 08:53:36

    I love it. I found your site through searching Isaac Lachman who is the Pottstown, PA photographer of your Mr. Slick photo. I love to search ebay for example Pottstown since I lived there a long time, it’s amazing what comes up. Just the other day i found a WWI soldier’s post card sent to him mom in Ptown on Chestnut street. hen you can look them up and find their addresses, lives, where they worked in town etc. Wonderful.


    • Mrs Marvel
      Jan 01, 2013 @ 21:21:14

      Glad you found the site and yes it is always interesting to get a peek into the past, isn’t it? I hope you will come back again!


  23. Daniel Scott Smith
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 04:04:12

    thank you. happy new year…


  24. Linda Jean Limes Ellis
    Mar 15, 2014 @ 10:11:33

    I tried to add a photograph today and it appears it ended up being added to my own WordPress blog. Maybe I did something wrong. I am not that well vresed in using WordPress as I am Blogger. Thank you. I am enjoying your blog immensely!!


    • Mrs Marvel
      Mar 23, 2014 @ 19:57:41

      Hi Linda, the comment form doesn’t provide a means for a reader to upload an image at this time. Thank you for your comment, I am happy you are enjoying the site!


  25. Al Williams
    May 29, 2015 @ 16:49:19

    I’ve been posting some old family album photographs and came across your site so not only gave a link for others to access you but titled my last post, “Who Were They?” in your honor, of course! I can only hope that others find this portal to the past as interesting as I do.


  26. Jack Borg
    Feb 15, 2017 @ 17:10:10

    There are 3 photos taken by Jacob Maul Studio late 1880’s apparently. Probably of our family, last name Reufer or Kappas. How to proceed?


  27. Jack Borg
    Feb 15, 2017 @ 17:13:30

    There are 3 photos taken by Jacob Maul’s Studio probably in the 1880’s and maybe of our family members Last name maybe Kappas, Reuffer. How to proceed?


  28. Stephane Francia
    Mar 14, 2017 @ 17:06:52

    I have an old photo in a beautiful engraved wood frame of a woman and a baby. Her clothing is unique and strangely enough she doesn’t appear to really be holding the baby as most mothers would when a baby is sitting upright. She is wearing what appears to be a silk scarf around her head and has slightly dark skin. Her top looks like satin with a collar trimmed in cotton lace no doubt handmade. Her fingernails look very short but like she worked in dirt. The baby is wearing a white cotton long dress with a cotton lace trim at the bottom and a long toboggan hat with a ball on top. The chair is loveseat style but fancy wood. 1800s. Furniture style.


  29. Far Side of Fifty
    Jan 16, 2018 @ 14:17:59

    Hey here is a link for you to the Obituary for James Mack who died recently. I know he is a cousin of yours. Connie


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