Dating photographs

… or not dating them as the case may be! Recently I’ve been trying to identify the individual members of the NUWT in the photographs in the Collection.

Identifying the women has been a lot tougher than I’d originally thought it would be so I’m hoping some of my you might be able to help!  Many of the group photographs contain large numbers of women, often wearing hats which partially obscure their face, and some of these photographs are a bit faded with age. Ah the age – there’s another problem, many of these photos are not dated!  As these are often more casual shots the women are not always looking directly at the camera, making it more difficult to identify.  For some women, generally members of the Central Council, we have official portraits.  However even these are problematic as they do not always give the name of the individual or the date.

So here’s two photographs/one individual I’ve been puzzling over – let’s see what you think.

UWT_G_1_13 Miss Cutten web

Photo 1 ©Institute of Education Archive

UWT_G_2_33 miss Cutten and unidentified woman

Photo 2 ©Institute of Education Archive

  • Is the women in photo 1 the same as the women on the left in photo 2?
  • What date would you give these photos?

Unlike most of the collection the photograph section was already on the catalogue system when I started this project.  Some are catalogued individually, others in groups.  Photo 1 is dated 1918/1919 on the catalogue but has no date on the photo and photo 2 is dated 1920s on the catalogue entry, again with no date on the photo itself.  On the back of photo 1 it says Miss [Cutten] – I’m pretty sure it’s Cutten but the writing is quite hard to make out.  I’m sure the women on the left in photo 2 is the same as photo 1 but the problem here is that if photo 1 is Miss Lizzie Cutten she died in 1920.  So either the name is wrong, one or both of the dates are wrong, or I have two different women. [Are you confused yet? I’m confusing myself here with trying to work this out so please bear with me!] Lizzie Cutten was born in 1888 so it could be that photo 1 was taken  much earlier than 1918 but I don’t know enough about historic fashion and hairstyles to even take an educated guess. Can anyone help me out here with dating these based on the fashion and hair styles?

And I’ve not even started trying to figure out who the women on the right is in photo 2!


Some other awesome archives

One of my favourite archive blogs for surprises is Awesome Archives. Here’s the blog synopsis –

A celebration of archives, archival material, and the amazing history that they protect.

I’d highly recommend adding it to your blog feed.  Guaranteed every time I check this blog there’s something new to catch my interest.  Today it was a colourful map from Beringer Bros Winery in California, which led me to the original blog ‘Quick Kills’.  The aim of the ‘Quick Kills’ project at Bancroft Library, California is to increase access to ‘legacy’ collections by speedy processing of about 160 priority collections.  The blog provides short insights into collections, usually one or two images with a nice, concise description.

While browsing their posts I noticed some familiar looking documents – suffrage material including a Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) poster for a demonstration in Hyde Park.  The material is from the McLean family papers, a family from California. This includes the papers of a daughter Fannie McLean, a suffragist and teacher.  The papers shown here even include a leaflet she wrote ‘Why the Teacher should be a Suffragist’ – sounds like she would have been a kindred spirit to NUWT members!

Image re-blogged from ‘Quick Kills’ at Bancroft Library tumblr

There is a finding aid to the collection, which can be accessed via the Online Archive of California.