Casefile Clues

14 September 2013

What Is Unstated Is Often Key

Sometimes documents are just as much about what they leave out as what they include.

This is the back of photograph that was in my grandmother Ufkes' collection of photographs and other items.In the upper right hand corner is the word "Dot" which I take to mean that the photograph was intended to be given to my grandmother as "Dot" was what she was called.

The larger handwriting is clearly in my grandmother's handwriting:

"Ed + Alice Cherrill at Calif[ornia] Motel."


That would be an accurate transcription of what is on the back of the photograph.

The problem is that the people in the picture shown below are not Ed and Alice Cherrill. They are Ed and Alice (Cherrill) Habben. Grandma clearly knew that the man in the picture was her brother Ed Habben, so no last name was necessary--after all, what other Ed was there?

If I had nary a clue as to who the people in the picture were, I might have concluded that the people really were Ed and Alice Cherrill instead of Ed and Alice (Cherrill) Habben?

Ed and Alice (Cherrill) Habben, undated World War II era photograph taken in California. The Habbens were life long residents of Hancock County, Illinois. Original in possession of Michael John Neill. 

Is it possible that there are unstated items on a photograph or document in your collection? There are times when people do not include what they assume what they consider obvious.