Orphan Photos: Two Victorian Albums


I have no idea who these people are.  They seem to be a husband, wife, and son.  The photos are among the dozens–tintypes, cartes de visite, cabinet cards–in two Victorian-era velvet photo albums in my possession.  Several years ago, we were able to rescue these from my step-grandmother Edna Newlin Shull McGhee’s home near Madison in rural Greenwood County, Kansas, shortly before it was demolished after her death.

I don’t recognize any of the names; they aren’t my family names and they don’t match up with any of the surnames I have for my step-grandmother.


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The PhotoSpace Blog gives a good description of this type of album.  Unfortunately, my albums don’t include a family tree!

For the majority of the nineteenth century, photographs were rare enough that a collection showing multiple generations was cherished.  The earliest family trees were often kept on the opening pages of elaborate photo albums , and included cut-out spaces for family members.  To fill a family tree like this could take lifetimes, and one person might only add a few photographs in his or her time on earth.  The PhotoSpace Blog

Blogger Cathy Meder-Dempsey in her post  Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can inspired me to dig these albums out of the closet.  I’m going to post most of the photos individually with whatever limited information I have available (the person’s name and/or the name and location of the photographer).  My sister Virginia Allain shares my interest in identifying old photos.  She and I have a post on HubPages where we’ve been sharing unidentified photos from our family collection:  Mystery Photos to Identify.  We’ve had some success in getting the subjects identified.

In the process of making this collection available on the internet, I may discover that these Victorian photos are connected to my family.  That would be a bonus, but most of the fun for me is in the research and the chance to make the photos available to other family history researchers.

As I post each photo from the collection, I’ll add a link here for easy reference.  The first name in the oldest album is D. N. WARREN, but his photo missing.

Please leave a comment below if you’re related to any of the people mentioned in this series.  I’d love to hear from you!

  1. Tomas (Thomas) FOUST 
  2. Three Children
  3. Dave and George CARTER
  4. Little Boy in a “Scotch” Suit
  5. Three Young Children
  6. William Shuler’s Uncle and Aunt




Earlier comments on this post: 

Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Karen, I did not think, when I told you to go for it, that you would be posting so soon. Congratulations and good luck on making connections with the descendants.


🙂 Thanks, Cathy.


Are you familiar with Dead Fred? That site posts old photos people have sometimes with names and others with no names. Locations are often added. I love the site because people often find an ancestor in the photos that other people have in their possession for a variety of reasons. ~Susan


I had forgotten about the Dead Fred site until I started researching these photos. I need to upload them there, too.

Kathy Glascott

What a fascinating look into history. Photos are so ubiquitous now, we don’t realize how rare and precious they were before.


I don’t think the selfie generation has a clue about how special and dear photos were–even in my childhood.


8 thoughts on “Orphan Photos: Two Victorian Albums

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