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The Glass Plate Negatives - part 3

If you are visiting for the first time, be sure to check previous posts for the beginning of this series.

(Here, for part one and here, for part two.)

By now, I was hooked. I kept checking my computer to see if Paul Holbrook had posted any new images. The glass plate negative collection had captured my attention and curiosity.

The most revealing of the images were of the interior of the house.

Picture courtesy of Paul Holbrook. Used with permission.

I wanted to see if I could date the family not only by their clothing but by their furnishings. My guess (and Paul Holbrook's) was that the pictures are from the early 1900's. Based on clothing and hair styles it would be pre 1920 and probably before 1910. The furnishings appear to be gathered in the mid to late 1800's.

Out of curiosity, I did a search for 1800's ornate organs and I found some that are almost exactly like the one in our mystery family's parlor!

The organs are so beautiful in full color and gives us an idea of what a prized possession this would be for a family. Smaller than a church pipe organ, a Reed pump organ had pedals to pump at the bottom. Many from the 1800's had a high ornate tope and carved designs on the front.

The shofar hanging above the organ may be a clue that this family is Jewish. That would fit with the theory that the family is from the Bronx or another large city where Jewish immigrants settled.

In the mid to late 1800's and early 1900's a large Jewish population settled in the United States. European immigrants came to America seeking religious freedom, fleeing persecution and looking for opportunity. The Bronx itself had a large Jewish community and by 1900 almost 63,000 Jews had settled there.

If the family in these pictures is, in fact, Jewish, locating Jewish neighborhoods and towns with large Jewish populations may be my best clue to identifying them. However, the family could be from any city or town in the Northeastern United States. The shofar could just be an interesting collector's piece. At this point, it seems like I am searching for a needle in a haystack.

The American flag on the top of the organ is a sign of their pride in their country and more Americana would appear in other rooms of the house.

There appears to be a bird of some kind, hanging to the left of the organ. Was this a toy or a taxidermy piece?

Picture courtesy of Paul Holbrook. Used with permission.

The next post will have some amazing interior shots of a bedroom. In the meantime, what are your thoughts about the new subject in this picture? The woman in the rocker isn't seen in any other pictures. Was she an aunt to the little girl? A friend of the family?

What clues can be seen in the above pictures about our mystery family? I find myself wondering constantly who they are and how they lived.

To read the next post and the continuing story of the glass plate negatives, go here.

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And here I was assuming that it was a powder horn, so I was looking around the photo to see if there was a black powder rifle (flintlock or percussion) handing somewhere nearby. I can't tell whether there is a cap on the large end, or a plug on the small end to confirm that it is a powder horn. However, shofars are usually made from a ram's horn, and many have a twist to them that is typical of those horns. See "What is a Shofar?" on My Jewish Learning at; "Rosh Hoshanna: The Shofar" on Jewish Virtual Library at; and shofars for sale on ajudaica at; and the Judaica Web Store at [all acce…

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