The leather is cracking, and the gold flecking off of its pages. The images inside are time capsules. Staring at their faces I search for some resemblance that reappears in my mother or my brothers or me or my children. Someone on Ceylon Lane, Post Office Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, bought this richly tooled leather album in the late 1800s. Its heavy card stock pages were cut precisely to hold 4½ by 6½ cabinet card photographs. She–and I only say she because it is this she who constructs family albums today–she did not do me the favor of identifying these people. I just have clues in the photographers’ names and studio locations. Hairstyles and jewelry, the cut of a bodice, the width of a lapel, all hint at a timeframe. Then, like a sleuthhound, I pick up the scent, looking through all the shoots and roots and leaves of my family tree. Because I do believe that these men, women and children are my family.
For the next little while I will be writing about my discoveries: the mysteries solved, the wild goose chases, and the tips and tricks collected along the way. Join me as I unlock the secrets of the Minor Family Album.
10. For Marion
11. On Court Avenue
16. Trio Incognito
19. The One I Know