Favourite photo (#52Ancestors)

Week 2 in Amy John’s #52Ancestors challenge is well underway, and I’m already a little behind on my writing. The difficulty this week has been in selecting a suitable photo!  I’ve browsed through my collection of photos several times, and each time a different photo has caught my eye for a different reason. And as I try to select a photo, I can’t help but feel like I’m picking one ancestor over another, so I’ve landed on a photo of an entire family so I feel like I’m sharing the love.

Leonard and Catherine Carver and their family

The photo above is of Henry Carver and his wife Catherine Rankin, along with all their children.  Their youngest child, Eric, features in this photo and is probably around 18 months to two years old, so it would have been taken around 1913.  I also know from the 1914 and 1915 Electoral Rolls (excerpt below) that they lived in South Preston, which fits with the photo being taken at Thornbury Studio.  This is definitely one of the oldest photos in my collection, although I do have one or two which would be slightly older.

Catherine and Henry Carver lived in South Preston in 1914, according to the Australian Electoral Roll

A few months after I started researching my family tree, mum shared with me a collection of old photo albums she had.  One or two of them were albums she kept herself when she was growing up, and the rest were my grandmother’s.  This photo was part of my grandmother’s collection, Henry and Catherine being her grandparents, although it wasn’t actually in an album but rather stored in the same box.

Collection of family photo albums

One of the things that appeals to me about this photo is that it contains the whole family. It’s great to see a snapshot of the parents and all nine of their children in one image. It fascinates me that people didn’t smile in photos back then, giving the feeling that no-one was happy and life was dull and gloomy, but I assume from the fact that they had the photo taken in a formal studio, and from the clothes they are wearing, that they were reasonably well off.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate either of their will or probate records at the Public Record Office so I haven’t been able to verify any of their financial holdings.

Looking across the back row (Donald, Jean and Leonard from left to right), there is a definite family resemblance amongst the eldest children, seemingly coming from their father.

Having revisited this photo as part of this blog post, some questions have come to mind which I will start to research. Where was the Thornbury Studio? How much would a photo like this have cost?  It has also drawn my attention to the frequency with which this family moved over the years. From the Australian Electoral Roll records, Henry and Catherine had 10 different places of residence between 1865 – 1952. They moved 5 times in the last 20 years of their life, something which I imagine would have taken quite a toll on people in their 60s and 70s.

As I write this post, I’m starting to realise it’s time to shift my focus from facts and figures to a more detailed level, trying to develop an understanding of the families and people who make up my family tree. With only one surviving grandparent, it is difficult to get this information from living relatives, but I’m sure there is enough general history available about the places they lived to start and build up a picture of their lives – and this blog series could be just the medium I need to start sharing their stories.

You can find more information about Henry and Catherine, as well as my other research, on my family tree which is located at http://familytree.derekjwhitten.id.au  And if you have any information about these people, or have any questions, please leave a note in the comments below or send me a private message via the contact page.

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