I got a copy of Maureen A. Taylor's Family Photo Detective (Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2013) thanks to Interlibrary Loan, wanting advice on a couple of the very few family photos I have. Not being a fashion person myself I did not understand much of what she was saying about garments and accessories. The book gives a lot of sources but most were books I would then have to fill out an interlibrary loan request and wait for, hoping my library could get a copy. Not being that patient, I went to google.com, which I do not normally use, and entered the particular fashion item I was curious about. In one case, I had what I had been told was a mother-daughter photo, but there was some debate over whether it was my great grandmother and her mom, or that mom and HER mother. The woman's fashion was indeterminate, to me, but the little girl was wearing an off-the-shoulder dress. What kind of Victorian mother would cover herself thoroughly but dress her little girl like a trollop? Well, apparently mothers from the 1840s through the Civil War (1860-65) did. That tells me that the original identification I had of the mother-daughter combo was correct, and the photo was taken circa 1851. I happen to have a photo of one of the mother's brothers, and there is a family resemblance. Google found me this info about little girls in off-the-shoulder dresses on Pinterest.com. I don't know much more about Pinterest than what I have just told you, but you might give them a shot for your antique fashion mysteries.
Dr. Maura Mackowski is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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