The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#74) - "Secure the Shadow Before the Substance Fades"

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.

Here is a fairly typical late 1800s cabinet card of a young couple. I was struck by the dour faces and curious poses. What was the man reading? What was the woman thinking? Where was this photo taken and why?


The front tells us that the photographer was a O.F. Waegan of Burlington Kansas. And the back identifies the couple as: 

Rosa Lena Hutchison and W.G. White
Father and mother before they were married
Picture taken in Burlington Kansas at Fair

A quick search on for "Waegan" filtered for Kansas turned up a few dozen advertisements for a Waegman photographer from the 1890s. This one in particular caught my attention.

"Secure the Shadow before the Substance Fades." Good words to live by. I think? I found this very interesting article about the history of this phrase as it was often used to advertise photography services. 

A very cursory search on turned up nothing obvious. With a little more digging, however, I stumbled on an 1895 State of Kansas census record that listed a W.G., R.L., and M. White, all of Waverly, Kansas in the county of Coffey. Waverly is about 20 miles northeast Burlington. 

And this couple appears to have been married a couple of years prior. This is a marriage license for a Walter G. White and a Rosa L. Hutcheson.

It seems most likely that Walter and Rosa went to the fair, probably around 1893 and took this photo as an engagement photo. They married an began having children in the later part of 1894.

It also seems possible, probably even, that this is the same couple that, in 1930, lived as Walter G. and Rosa L. White at 327 Thompson St. in Ann Arbor, MI.

Ann Arbor is a college town that I know very well. Thompson St. is in the heart of the University of Michigan campus. What stands at 327 Thompson St. today is a large parking structure. On the opposite side of the street, however, there are houses likely similar to the one that the White family lived in in 1930. 

All the other details seem to fit, including the fact that I purchased this photo at the John K. King bookstore in Detroit, just outside of Ann Arbor. My best guess is that this photo ended up in an estate sale somewhere and made its way to the bookstores.

Here is another Pic of the Week with some backstory about John K. King Books.

There are many other details I would like to follow up on when I find the time. Ultimately I would love to find a living relative who might appreciate this photo being returned to the family.

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