The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#39)

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.

The is, presumably, Molly.

I was rummaging through some vintage photographs and cabinet cards at a local antique shop when I came across her. I was was transfixed by her stare. There is something oddly modern about her look, despite the sepia hue and vintage matting. Her dress, hair, and pearls suggest 1920s or 1930s.

I wanted to know her story.

"With love - Molly"

The photo is boldly inscribed: "With love, Molly". The only other detail is the name of the photography studio, "Campbell Studio" of Florence, Alabama. 

A quick google search for the studio showed a mention of a Campbell Studio in Florence, Alabama in the "Bulletin of Photography" from 1913. It said: "The studio of C.B. Campbell of Florence, Ala was totally destroyed by fire December 11th. The loss is partially covered by insurance."  

It seems likely that this is the studio where this photograph was taken. 

So, there you go. You genealogy sleuths have your work cut out for you on this one. Your clues are 1) Molly, 2) Probably 1900-1913, and 3) Florence, Alabama. Let me know what you come up with. Good luck.

I bought several other photos at the antique store that day. The cashier, a young woman in her late teens or early 20s, wore a vintage shirtwaist dress with an antique floral brooch pinned near her left shoulder.

I didn't catch her name. She enthusiastically thumbed through the half a dozen photos I was purchasing. As I handed her a $20 bill we had the following conversation:

Her: I love old photos like this.

Me: Me too, these are some good ones.

Her: You would love my grandmother's house. She has photos all over.

Me: I bet I would!

Her: So, what do you do with all of these?

Me: I have a blog, sometimes I write about them. I like to learn about the people in the photos if I can. It helps hone some of my genealogy research skills too.

Her: Wow, that is so cool! 

She had an "old soul" vibe that contrasted with her obvious youth and bubbly voice. She was genuinely interested in my project. 

I thanked her as she gave me my change. As I made my way to the exit she exclaimed, almost as an afterthought: "I hope you find their stories!"

I turned around, smiled, and simply said, "Me too." I walked to my car and silently repeated her parting words to me. And I smiled. 

So, to all of you engaged in some genealogical quest, whether you are looking for a loved one or stranger, I wish you luck. Most of all though, I hope you find their stories.


  • Who is the woman in the photo?

  • What do you think, feel, and wonder about as you look at her?

  • Whose stories do you hope to find in your own family tree?

  • How has learning the stories of history improved your life?

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 for more information.

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