Identifying Orphan Photographs
It can seem rather daunting to identify & date unknown photographs but there are often clues to be found in the photographs or other resources to help you identify their details, the who, what, where and when. Here’s one of a few I found in Ballarat which you may find interesting or useful, or you may even be able to help us with their story.
A couple of years ago, I happened upon the Antiques, Goods & Chattles store in Ballarat where I found a few orphan or homeless photos. Rather than leave them to an uncertain fate, I bought them in case they may prove useful to someone else. Hopefully, I will be able to upload them to the Trove: Australia in Pictures group on Flickr where they will be searchable on Trove. New South Wales State Archives has useful tips for identifying photographs which include examining the clothing, architecture, street signs & lights, cars, trains and details of the photographer. Of course, it can be as simple as looking on the back or even the front of the photograph. Fortunately, a couple of the photos had some remnants of their family connections while others were true orphans.
The actual photo shows shows this to be the grave of Elizabeth Jane Marshall & her mother Elizabeth Paul who were born about 1855 & 1832. The headstone reads:
In loving memory of my beloved wife Elizabeth Jane Marshall Who died 16 June 1907, aged 52 years.
Also of her mother Elizabeth Paul who died 23 Oct 1906, aged 74 yrs.Marshall Headstone c. 1907
Another reason this photo deserved rescuing was that it was a great find as Grandmother Marshall’s Grave was written on the back, as well as Area: Priv B Sec 6 Lot 39. Fortunately, a deceased search on Ballarat Cemeteries shows Elizabeth Marshall was buried at Ballarat Cemetery-New on 19 June 1907 at map location Private B, Section 06, Grave 39, so we must have the right person. Further information shows there were actually four interments, namely, Elizabeth Marshall on 19 June 1907; Elizabeth Paul on 25 October 1906, aged 75 (not 74); William Mitchell on 13 February 1909, aged 0 & William Marshall on 25 June, 1909, aged 55.
The Ryerson Index
Even though we found Elizabeth Marshall & her mother, it is worth checking the Ryerson Index for death notices in newspapers or the Australian Cemeteries Index but there were no results, although there were 6 cemeteries used in Ballarat before 1910 if we had needed them.
A search of Trove’s newspapers found an obituary for Mrs Elizabeth Jane Marshall, wife of Mr W. G. Marshall, of Tress Street, Mount Pleasant in the Ballarat Star on 20 June 1907 together with all the names of the pall bearers & coffin bearers.
There was also an obituary for Mrs Elizabeth Paul of Tress Street, Mount Pleasant in the Ballarat Star on 26 Oct 1906 which also included the names of the pall bearers & coffin bearers.
William G Marshall’s obituary in the Ballarat Star on 26 June 1909 also showed him to be from Tress Street Mount Pleasant and buried at the New Cemetery.
William Mitchell’s connection might be found in Birth, Death & Marriages Victoria, as it shows two infants who died in 1909, but neither mother is a Marshall or Paul. Perhaps he is William Alfred Mitchell who died at Ballt E, which I guess is Ballarat East, aged 11 months and whose mother was Mary Ann Waldron. Perhaps she remarried?
Can you help?
If you know more, have photos or are related to the Marshall, Mitchell or Paul families of Ballarat, it would be great if you left a comment or contacted us so we could share more of their story.