The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#44)

Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "Pic of the Week." The intent is to encourage thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.

This photo came from the same antique store where I bought The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#39).

Willoughby Boughton

Here is the back of the photo.

Pic of Week 44 back.jpg

At first it was hard to identify the man's name. His first name seemed to be "Willoughby" but i struggled with the surname. Here is a closeup. 

Pic of Week 44 back NAME cropped.jpeg

The rest is more legible. It appears to read:

Composer - Conductor

Det Cons of Music

Born 1885

I live outside of Detroit so surely this refers to the Detroit Conservatory of Music, the history of which you can learn a bit about in the following audio lecture.

As I was writing this post I also turned to The Psychogenealogist Facebook Page to get some input on the last name. You all are always so helpful! With your assistance I believe that this man is Willoughby Boughton. Check the comments in the Facebook post to see how we came up with that.

The problem with doing these Pic of the Week scavenger hunts is I can spend much more time on them than I reasonably have available. I start finding details about the story and want to learn as much as I can. It is difficult to know where to draw the line.

I will leave with you with just a few details that I found about Willoughby. If his story grabs your attention I encourage you to find out more. I would be happy to hear (and post) what you find.

A "Willoughby Boughton" was found in the 1940 census. He was living in Waterford, Michigan, which is about 40 miles northwest of Detroit. He was listed as 44 at the time, but I believe this to be a decade off (not an uncommon arithmetic error you might find on a census). 

His Find a Grave memorial says he was born in 1885 and died in 1966.

Willoughby Boughton F.a.G.jpg

Here is the full article that is included on his memorial.


A search for "Willoughby Boughton" on produced 165 articles. A quick scan let's us know that most of these seem related to Willoughby and his musicianship. As a professional musician and teacher he received a good deal of press.

There is so much more I want to know about this man and his life. If I return to his story here are some of the questions I hope to answer.


  • How and when did Willoughby become interested in music?
  • In the 1940 census he is listed as living with a male "companion". This was the first I had seen this designation. Did Willoughby have a romantic partner? If so, how did his sexual orientation impact his life and work?
  • Are there relatives of Willoughby living today who would be interested in having this photography?
  • Where can I find and hear some of Willoughby's compositions and/or performances?

Do you have an old photograph or a genealogical story that you would like to share? I am happy to consider guest submissions for possible Pic of the Week or other blog posts in the future. Send an email to for more information.

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