11 September 2013

Double Couins Get Their Picture Taken

The photograph in this post is another that was in the collection of my grandpa Neill's sister, Nellie (Neill) Shanks. I was fortunate that this is one of the many pictures she identified by writing the names on the back.

There are a couple of things about this picture and the identification that can serve as reminders when we are identifying our own pictures. 

Make it clear who is who.

The cousins in this picture are not standing in two straight rows. On the back, the names of all seven people are included. Those names just are not in quite the right order. One option in pictures such as this one would be to make a quick sketch of "body outlines" and use that on which to write the names (I'm not a fan of writing on the actual photo's surface). Another option in this case would be to go from left to right using details in the photograph as necessary.
  • Walter Rampley
  • Herschel Neill (boy without jacket)
  • Cecil Neill (holding Walter's arm)
  • Nellie (Neill) Shanks (light colored dress)
  • Lester Rampley (toddler with stocking hat)
  • Ralph Neill
  • Edna (Rampley) Dion (girl with dark dress)

It's important to be as clear as possible while keeping in mind what is clear to you may not necessarily be clear to someone else.

This photograph's identification.

In this case the determination of "who was who" was not all that difficult. Details from other records and my own knowledge were sufficient. There were only two girls named in the picture and their years of birth were well established from other records. Nellie is clearly the oldest girl in the photograph.

Lester was clearly the youngest. Cecil (my grandfather) was the apparent oldest in the picture and I also recognized him from other photographs. I knew that Herschel was several years younger than Ralph and those two I also recognized as my Grandpa's brothers. That left only Walter.


As I progress through these pictures, I'm becoming more convinced than ever that it's important not only to identify the individuals, but to also include an idea of when and where the photograph was taken. It should be made clear when this is a guess. Commentary about how the individuals were identified is helpful as well. The commentary on the actual photograph does not need to be long, but should give someone viewing the picture later an idea of "how" the identification was made.


The Neills and Rampleys shown in this picture were first and second cousins. They were all grandchildren of Samuel and Annie (Murphy) Neill--Irish immigrants to Hancock County, Illinois. They were also all great-grandchildren of James and Elizabeth (Chaney) Rampley, Ohio residents who migrated to Hancock County, Illinois, in 1849.