The Museum of Family History
 Education and Research Center
 
Thinking Exercise

Is This My Family?


Many families have such old photographs in their family albums, just like the one showed here, but they don't know who the people in the photographs are. Maybe they're part of their family, or maybe they're part of yours. It's hard to know when there's nobody living anymore who could tell you for sure....

Mother and her Two Children
early 20th century
Postcards from Home Collection, Belarus, Upper floor
The family portrayed here went to a photographic studio in the town of
Nesvizh, which was then part of the Russian Empire.
Family portraits such as these most often had to be made at a photographic studio, because in the early twentieth century there weren't too many families that had their own cameras! Often times families would have to travel to another town to have their photographs taken, especially if they came from a small village.

Many of us inherited these photographs from our parents or grandparents, but we were never told who these people were, and unfortunately nothing was written on the photograph backing. Could they have been members of our family, and if so, who were they?

Can you imagine standing still in a photographic studio for a family photograph?

If you were posing for such a photograph with members of your family, how would you like to be portrayed? In a dressy outfit? Would you want to smile, or would you want to appear more serious?

In the photograph shown, what do you think the mother and the children are thinking?

Why do you think the family went to the studio to have a photograph made? Was it for a special occasion? What reasons might the father not be in the photograph?
 



Photograph taken in the studio of Shmuil-Zelik Kaplan in the town of Nesvizh, Minsk Gubernia, c. early 20th century.
Submitted by Melissa McCurdie.



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