Thursday, January 17, 2008

Even A Labeled Photo Can Be Wrong - Exciting Find!

As family historians so often we yearn for family photos that have been carefully labeled, more often than not, are saddled with mysterious faces on unlabeled cardstock. But as the Library of Congress recently discovered, even a photograph that has been labeled can be incorrect and lost to historians - until now that is! Three images of the crowd at Lincoln's Second Inauguration were recently discovered at the Library of Congress.

It's a reminder to all of us that even a neat label on a family photo should be carefully evaluated before taken as gospel. I have a good example of this in my own family. I have a photo of a man and a woman circa 1900. The label on the back indicates it is my great grandfather Charles A Burkett and his wife Ellen Lynch. However, close examination of the photo reveals that the photo is actually two photos put together, creating the appearance that the couple are being photographed together. The woman's face was very familiar to me, not because she looked so much like my great grandmother, but rather her sister.

Close examination of other family photos revealed that the woman in the photo was indeed Ellen Lynch's sister Agnes! The photographer grabbed the wrong sister when filling the order! My suspicions were confirmed by my great aunt Bea, Ellen's daughter.

For more information on the Lincoln discovery:
The Los Angeles Times newspaper article
The Library of Congress press release

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division has updated the catalog records. To view the full set of photos, visit the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Here are the photo links:

Soldiers and crowd
Soldiers lining up
Soldiers lined up
People arriving (previously known image used for comparison)

The Library's American Memory online presentation "I Do Solemnly Swear" offers a special look at Lincoln's second inauguration, including the handwritten text of the address, which is part of the Library's Abraham Lincoln Collection in the Manuscript Division. Lincoln's second inaugural address, coming just a few weeks before the end of the Civil War, contained such stirring phrases as: "... With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds ..."

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