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Family Portraits for Family History Month

October 22, 2018

During Family History Month various organizations encourage individuals to learn about their family history by collecting documents, stories, memorabilia, and photographs that detail the life and times of their ancestors.  We pay tribute to these efforts by showing some of our group portraits of Texas families.

Most family photograph collections dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries contain individual portraits taken by studio photographers.  Wedding portraits are also common.  Less often seen are group portraits of the entire family.  The earliest of these were taken in photography studios with the family posed in their best clothing in front of a backdrop that was usually unrelated to their normal habitat.  More interesting are those taken by itinerants who often photographed the family outside their house.  Later, after the introduction of amateur photography the entire clan might be pictured at a family gathering.  The different forms of group portraits invite close study since they provide insights into family lifestyle and relationships.

These images, all from our General Photograph Collection, were copied from prints held in family collections.

Charles Daniels, Black Seminole scout at Fort Clark, with his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Tina, in front of an itinerant photographer’s backdrop, circa 1908. (068-1013, Courtesy Jerry Daniels)




















Charles Persyn, Bexar County farmer, holds his hat as he poses with his wife, Mary, and their children in a photographer’s studio in front of a backdrop depicting the interior of an upscale residence, circa 1905 (068-3192, courtesy of Mrs. Leo Persyn)


Otto Haegelin and his sons sit on dining room chairs behind potted plants as his wife, Catherine Haegelin, and their daughters stand behind them on the front porch of their stone farm house near Castroville, circa 1905. (094-0084, courtesy Alice Ray Boehme)


C. Hilmar and Dorothea Guenther and extended family gather outside their parlor on Guenther Street, San Antonio, 1893. (071-0525, courtesy of Amanda Ochse)


Rihei and Hisa Onishi and their children are positioned in a way that makes them subordinate to their farmhouse in Mackey, Wharton County, 1908. (086-0268, courtesy of May, Julia, and Nina Onishi)


John and Frances Dugosh and family at their molasses mill in Bandera, circa 1910. (068-1210, courtesy C.M. Dugosh)


Members of the Cayetano Huran family showcase their animals on farm near Mission Espada, San Antonio, circa 1910. (103-106, courtesy Louis Jimenez)


Paul Helmcamp and his family are captured by a street photographer at a Fourth of July parade in Buckholts, Milam County, circa 1914. (087-0287, courtesy Magdalene Stillwell)


The Aguilar family is entertained by a phonograph at a family reunion in Aguilares, Webb County, 1902. (087-0208, Sylvia Aguilar-Jimenez)


The Miller family reunion near West Point, Fayette County, is recorded by an amateur photographer in 1934. (103-0163)

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