Profiling Portraits: Family Groups in Pictures

In this latest entry in our occasional series, Profiling Portraits, I was inspired by an attempt to take a group photo during a recent family visit, as well as time spent looking through photo albums at previous years’ similar efforts. Family photos tend to evoke memories, elicit questions about older ancestors and of course provide a record of your relatives. I find it interesting to view family photos, even of families not my own, to see what they suggest about the family, about relationships between the members, about the individuals, about the time period or circumstances. Like any group portrait, but with the added factor of familial ties, family photos convey more than just the faces of those depicted!

Explore an array of photos of families large and small, some famous and some not at all, drawn from many time periods and different walks of life. In addition to exploring the details of the photos themselves, be sure to read the captions to find out more about the subject matter or the photographer, when that information is known.

(By the way, at least two of the photos below include the family dog – one is quite obvious, but can you spot the other? Answer given at the very end of the post.)

Family living on part-time farming unit at Loogootee, Wabash Farms, Indiana. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, 1938 May. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a09755

Family living on part-time farming unit at Loogootee, Wabash Farms, Indiana. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, 1938 May. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a09755

Seminole Indian and family dugout canoe, Miami, Fla. Photo copyrighted by Detroit Publishing Company between 1910 and 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a24107

Seminole Indian and family dugout canoe, Miami, Fla. Photo copyrighted by Detroit Publishing Company between 1910 and 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a24107

Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Tsurutani and baby Bruce, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Photo by Ansel Adams, 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppprs.00251

Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Tsurutani and baby Bruce, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Photo by Ansel Adams, 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppprs.00251

[Harmony, a study of the Brundigee family (father, mother and child) and their musical instruments, made in the photographer's New York City studio] Photo by Gertrude Kasebier, 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.12042

[Harmony, a study of the Brundigee family (father, mother and child) and their musical instruments, made in the photographer’s New York City studio] Photo by Gertrude Kasebier, 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.12042

Senor Celecia & family. Photo from National Photo Company Collection, 1923. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.08079

Senor Celecia & family. Photo from National Photo Company Collection, 1923. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.08079

 

[Theodore Roosevelt with his wife and children] Photo by Pach Brothers, 1903 July 13. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.35757

[Theodore Roosevelt with his wife and children.] Photo by Pach Brothers, 1903 July 13. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.35757

[African American family posed for portrait seated on lawn.] Photo collected by W.E.B. DuBois, 1899 or 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08762

[African American family posed for portrait seated on lawn.] Photo collected by W.E.B. DuBois, 1899 or 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08762

[Group portrait, possibly a family, with an African American woman] Photo by S.C. Landon, between 1860 and 1870. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.11016

[Group portrait, possibly a family, with an African American woman.] Photo by S.C. Landon, between 1860 and 1870. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.11016

Richmond, Virginia. Gen. Edward O.C. Ord, wife and child at the residence of Jefferson Davis. In the doorway is the table on which the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee was signed. Photo, 1865 April. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpb.02930

Richmond, Virginia. Gen. Edward O.C. Ord, wife and child at the residence of Jefferson Davis. In the doorway is the table on which the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee was signed. Photo, 1865 April. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpb.02930

 

 Admiral Sampson and family. Photo published by Detroit Publishing Company, between 1890 and 1901. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a15123

Admiral Sampson and family. Photo published by Detroit Publishing Company, between 1890 and 1901. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a15123

Robinson family. Photo, Matson Photograph Collection, between 1898 and 1946. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.06096

Robinson family. Photo, Matson Photograph Collection, between 1898 and 1946. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.06096

Family of James Strunk, farmer. Works for WPA (Works Progress Administration), earns forty-four dollars per month, drives twenty-six miles to work fourteen days per month. Car expense comes out of the forty-four dollars. Has eight children, four of them at home. Wheelock, North Dakota. Photo by Russell Lee, 1937 Oct. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b20070

Family of James Strunk, farmer. Works for WPA (Works Progress Administration), earns forty-four dollars per month, drives twenty-six miles to work fourteen days per month. Car expense comes out of the forty-four dollars. Has eight children, four of them at home. Wheelock, North Dakota. Photo by Russell Lee, 1937 Oct. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b20070

Learn More:

(Answer: If you didn’t spot the second family dog mentioned in the opening of this post, take a very close look at the last photo. It might take downloading the high resolution TIFF file from this page to see clearly, but the family puppy is curled up in the lap of the last child on the right!)

2 Comments

  1. Zal Lazkovich
    January 12, 2019 at 3:20 am

    Thank you!
    Very enjoyable to look at all photos, when the times were much simple.

  2. Jeanna Tillery
    January 14, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    These are fabulous photos that capture long past personal and national historical events, even if we didn’t realize they were at the time. What a collection of treasures, and what a delight to view them.

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