Center for Archival Collections
December 2004: Volume 23, Number 3
Brothers and Sisters, Relatives and Friends
This issue of the Archival Chronicle Gallery features snapshots and portraits from the Bertha Shirley Collection (MMS 491), donated by Audrey Giltz Fahrer. The photographs illustrate farm and family life in Paulding County, Ohio during the early years of the 20th century.
Brothers and Sisters and Cousins
Brother and sisters pose for a formal portrait
By 1900, studio photography was no longer the ordeal it had been during the mid-nineteenth century. Because exposure times were shorter, faces were no longer frozen-looking. The special occasion, if any, that inspired this trip to the photographer is not recorded, but could have been a graduation or church event, since the girls are in light-colored dresses.
Another special occasion some sixty years later brought brother and sisters together again, and family members were careful to record the event. As their lives went their independent ways, the Shirley children probably got together for holidays and other family events, but the emphasis was always on their children, or on the activity. Between these two portraits, sister Emma married and raised the family of children seen in the snapshots below. Perhaps this picture was taken at Ray's home (although his shirt is buttoned to the top, he is not wearing a necktie or suit coat). Both sisters wear "dressy" dresses, with jewelry, suggesting a gathering for a formal occasion like a wedding or holiday. Is it a coincidence that they are posed in the same arrangement as the earlier photograph, or did someone use it for inspiration?
Harold Giltz with second cousins John, Mildred, and Edith Hall
Family snapshots record special visits. Stair-step lines of children near in age and in relationship allow parents to remark on family resemblances and my-aren't-they-growing-up-fast? The children's clothing is very typical of the time: sailor-style blouses for all children, huge hair ribbons for the girls, and knee-pants or shorts for young boys.
Whew! Just us guys.
Harold and John seem glad to be together, now that the girls have gone off on their own. If the boys had been posed at a portrait studio, their hair would have been thoroughly slicked-down and their suits starched to perfection.
Harold and Audrey Giltz, ca. 1914
Harold and Audrey Giltz look through postcards and photographs and pose with the family pets.
Follow the Leader!
Harold, Audrey, and Donald Giltz are seen at play in the front yard of their home in Paulding County, 1916. Thanks to inexpensive cameras and film, families were able to take their own pictures of their everyday activities. Even so, active children were (and are) difficult to photograph and family snapshot collections are often full of backs of children, blurred by their speed.
A day at the park
Audrey and Harold Giltz on the Grounds of Fort Defiance, 1915. The original Fort was constructed in 1794 by troops under General Anthony Wayne and later became an important staging area during the War of 1812. In 1904, this historic site was chosen for the location of the Defiance Public Library and the surrounding area became a park. A footbridge and river can just be made out in the background.
Toledo Zoo, ca. 1915
Harold Giltz, Robert Whitney, Aunt Kate (Giltz) Whitney (holding Ralph) enjoy the polar bear exhibit at the Toledo Zoo. The zoo had been founded only fifteen years earlier, but it was already an important attraction for families visiting Toledo.
Harold and Audrey find work and play in winter
The children looking over family photographs
Fun on the Farm
Home of David and Rachel Shirley, Paulding County, Ohio, ca. 1907
Just visible on the porch are sisters Bertha and Emma, along with their mother Rachel Shirley. The farmhouse is a typical Ohio upright-and-wing style. The screen door at the front of the house and the open windows upstairs help air to circulate on hot summer days. The thick plantings help shade the porch to keep it cooler.
Harold, and Audrey Giltz nestle Donald in the straw.
"The Maiden Blush Disaster"
Grandpa David Shirley had an orchard near the farmhouse. Sometime during the 1910's, a severe windstorm uprooted one of the larger trees (an apple variety called "Maiden Blush"). Here, Harold and Audrey take one of the farm cats to inspect the damage.
Turkeys in farmyard
In addition to fruit orchards, the Shirleys also raised chickens, ducks, and turkeys. Today, these turkeys would be called "free range" because they are allowed to roam outdoors.
Meeting the pigs
David Shirley introduces his grandchildren to some of the pigs he raises.
Feeding the Chickens
Bertha Shirley, Harold's aunt, shows him how to feed the chickens, one of the daily chores at the Shirley farm.
Feeding the Ducks
Harold is seen here feeding Indian Runner ducks on a farm visit about 1915. This breed of ducks runs rather than waddles and became popular because of their egg-laying capacity. They are said to out-produce chickens in the number of eggs laid.
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