Within the Museum of Family History’s
“vault” lies a couple of hundred studio photographs, mostly taken in
towns and cities in pre-World War I Europe; only a portion of these
are on display. Many of these photos (mounted on cardboard) contain
what could be important genealogical information to you, especially
if you are trying to date a family photograph taken in a
professional photographic studio.
What information can be found on such a photo? The name of the
photographic studio often appears as an imprint under the photograph;
usually a lithographic design covers most of the photo backing. Many
of these designs contain attractive graphics, including medals or
studio supposedly won at some exposition or competition, or perhaps
a medal of merit or excellence that was awarded by a European monarch. Perhaps there
even will be an
indication that the photographer is the "official" photographer or a
After World War I, however, the mood in Europe changed—especially in
Eastern Europe—in such a way that those attractive lithographic
designs mostly disappeared. After 1914-5, these attractive designs
were generally replaced with a simple stamp imprint with the name of
the studio and the studio's address.
The Museum of Family History’s collection of fronts and backs of
such studio photographs is nothing when compared to the collection
of over 3500 photos that can be found at
Polish and German language website documents the activities of
photographers and their studios in the years 1850-1914.
On this site, you can search for a particular photographer and
studio by the surname of the photographer. If successful, you will
be given a list of studios that once existed for a particular
photographer. Then you can see if one of the listing pertains to the
photographer and studio that you’re looking for.
There were many hundreds of photographic studios that existed during
the pre-World War I years in Europe, and this website certainly
don’t have every one represented. However, they do have a lot.
Whereas the Museum of Family History only holds images of studio
photographs of Jewish individuals and family groups, this site makes
no such distinction.
Here is a “for instance”:
You have a beautiful heirloom, a
family photograph of cousins from Czernowitz
from before World War I (mostly likely in the very early 1900s),
which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
You can see the imprint on the bottom of the front of the
photo mount that the
studio name/photographer is T. Bahrynowicz. You can also see that
the studio was in Czernowitz.
On the back of the photo (the reverse
side) you can also see in larger letters "T. Bahrynowicz," as well
as the address of the studio Hauptstrasse 36. If you don't speak
German, you can use Google Translate to translate the rest of the
incidental information on the backing. But you don't really know the
date the photo was taken. You'd say though that because the
lithographic design is "fancy," the photo was taken sometime before
World War I, but when? 1914? 1904? 1894?
Be sure to read through the Museum’s
exhibition “Photographic Studios of Eastern Europe” which will also
assist you in your research. The exhibition can be found at
www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/pse.htm . This will help
you a bit in narrowing down the timeline.
You then will go to the aforementioned
fotorevers.eu website and click on the link at the top of the page “Fotograf.” You
then click on the link “B” for Bahrynowicz. This could be a page
that you'd bookmark for future use.
When you do, you will see two listings
for a T. Bahrynowicz. His full name is said to be Teodozy Bahrynowicz.
It seems that he had two studios, one for Czernowitz and the other
Since your photo was most likely taken
in Czernowitz, click on the Czernowitz link,
where it says “Details >>”. There you will see a table that will
tell you (if available):
the photographer’s name (Teodozy
the city where the studio is located
the street where the studio is
36, opposite the Hotel Moldova)
where any of his studio branches, if
Jagielonska Street 24)
between what years he operated the
the lithographer who supplied the
studio with the photo mount, i.e. the piece of cardboard onto
which the photo was glued and mounted--the lithographer’s name is
often printed on the back of the photo, but is often too small to
read. (Bernhard Wachtl, Vienna)
any awards which the photographer
had won in the past (Silver Medal of Merit 1886)
notes, i.e. other information
printed within the design, e.g. “negatives preserved,”
“magnifications after each picture to life size artistically
done,” etc. ("Magnification
of each image to a man's greatness in artistic execution;
you will see thumbnails of the front
and back (sometimes just one of the two), which you can click on
and see enlarged. (Here, just the back of the photo mount.)
The lithographic design on this
website may or may not
be the same that is on your photograph. If you visit
displays many studio photos once taken in Czernowitz studios, you
will find a half dozen variations of the lithographic design. The
actual design may help you narrow down the year too if you happen to
see the same design on a photo on the fotorevers site that is dated.
However, one cannot guarantee that a photo mount with a specific
lithographic design that was purchased from the lithographer in
1900, wasn't used until 1912. You just have to gather all the
information you can gather and make the best judgment possible.
Again, be sure to read through the
Museum’s exhibition “Photographic Studios of Eastern Europe” which
will also assist you in your research. The exhibition can be found
There is also more to explore on the
fotorevers.eu website, and you should do so at your leisure. Enjoy!