Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

A lovely young woman on the brink of her future. This subject is identified as Name Smith, photographed by Gilbert & Bacon in Philadelphia, PA. I found records indicating the photographer in business between 1880-1915. We know this CDV is from the 19th century due to the change of formats around 1900. I’m guessing at about 1870 for a birth year, and lo and behold, I found Mame Smith attending Syracuse University in 1890. She was a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority quartette as a second soprano. I’d say this photograph portrays a woman who would pursue her education and live life her own way, don’t you? She has a look of determination and self worth.

There are lots of Mamie’s in the 1880s and 90s, but I found only one Mame getting married at the age of 18 in 1889. Could that be “our” Mame? If so, she married William H. Willaur. 

Another record found for the 1910 federal census indicates that a Mame Smith found in Philadelphia was divorced (gasp!) with 3 children. She owned her home and had several boarders, probably to help pay the mortgage. Daughters Ruth and Mary lived with her. If this was indeed the Mame we have pictured above, let’s hope the divorce was her choice and her husband was just a dud and nothing more.

To see another photos by Gilbert & Bacon on this site, click here. This other photo is a Cabinet Card and definitely dated to the 1890s, an excellent image of a gentleman with a fabulous mustache.

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