Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

This is an interesting angle to achieve the profile view for a portrait. The subject is sitting with her back to the camera and facing to the right. Lucky for us, it shows off her hair arrangement, the back of which is often a mystery. It is pulled straight up to the top of her head and twisted into a bun, with the front bangs left free in a fringe. It appears she may have a fancy hair fork peeking out from the top. She has the puffed sleeves and high neckline that were popular in the 1890s, and also wears small earrings. Some have argued that “women of strong moral character” did not pierce their ears, but photographic evidence such as this and the vast selection of earrings available in mail order catalogs prove otherwise. This lady from the Mearns Family Album was photographed at Fritz’s in Lambertville, NJ.There is no date on the photograph, but following that the previous two were early 1890s, it’s a good suspicion this was taken around the same time.

6 thoughts on “Side-back portrait

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    It’s hard to guess how old she might be – I’d say 40-ish.

    Some updates:
    The Clugston family moved to Indiana around 1868-70 from New Castle, Delaware having moved there from New Jersey.
    There are a number of Mearns living in northern New Jersey in this time period. I can find no Mearns living in or near Lambertville / Trenton / Princeton – but there is a small collection of them living right across the Delaware River in Bucks County, PA.

    Big if – the woman in the photo is a Mearns – she might be one of the ones living in Bucks County. This might be Esther Mearns (b. abt 1845 widowed before the age of 35) mother of Hugh B. Mearns (b. abt 1872).

    I’m not sure how William L. Mearns would fit in here – and await other Mearns family names and photos! :)


  2. IntenseGuy says:

    P.s., if she is a Clugston, there are many possibilities – several “40-ish year old’ Clugston women are to be found living in Mercer County (in which Lambertville lies).


  3. I wonder if she had a birthmark or something on the left side of her face. Her dress is unremarkable in the back. I have seen lots of front over the sholder poses but never a back one..very interesting:)


  4. IntenseGuy says:

    Correction – Lambertville is in Hunterdon county which lies just north of Mercer county (in which is Trenton and Princeton). Bucks county, Pennnsylvania lies across the Delaware River from both of these New Jersey counties.


  5. IntenseGuy says:

    This might well be Mrs. William L. Meanes (Mearns) – Amy T Rittenhouse going by the location of the photographer and the cast of characters. :)


  6. The blog of Heinz-Werner Lawo is an online exhibition of an especial mirror photography motive. There you can see the back of the portrayed person with it’s hairdo. For example under Labels/Keywords: 1893-1900



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