Sunday, September 27, 2015

Photo Repatriation - Part I



Dear ______,

My name is Sarah Melvey, and I am writing in regard to the Howell branch of your family. I currently live in Williamsburg, Virginia...and while browsing through one of our many local antique shops, I came across a beautiful baby portrait taken in the late 1890s with the name "Josephine Fulton Howell" written on the back. Out of curiosity, I decided to put my genealogical skills to work to try to identify as much as possible about Miss Josephine - mainly in an effort to identify current living relatives (potentially with family trees in Ancestry). My goal is to repatriate or re-home the photo and make sure it returns to the family...


Genealogical serendipity.  I have been on the receiving end of so many research hand-outs that I only thought it worthwhile to attempt to pay it forward in my own little way.  Enter Josephine Fulton Howell - the beautifully staged baby in the portrait above.  Note the detailed background - the flowers on the sideboard, the tufted velvet settee.  She gazes lovingly and curiously to the side (maybe mother is making silly faces?).  What's not to love?

I was heartbroken to discover that Josephine died in 1907 in Philadelphia - of a cause I cannot yet determine (without purchasing and ordering her death record).  The indexed version gives no clue as to cause of death, though I do know that Philadelphia suffered a large Typhoid fever outbreak in the early 1900s.  Her parents, Charles and Mary Howell, had two remaining daughters - Louise and May.  It is my greatest hope that I can locate a next-of-kin willing and appreciative enough to accept this original photo or a digital copy, for that matter.  Time will tell!  I sent the note above to a likely candidate via Ancestry.com.  Fingers crossed - and I promise an update as soon as possible...

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