Monday, July 28, 2014

IAJGS2014 Conference - Day 2 Part 1/2

Day 2 of the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.  My entire summary, day by day, here.

Today has been jam-packed, so this blog post will be divided into two separate posts.

Due to jetlag, I woke up early, so I was at the Family History Library when it opened.

I already have gone through the microfilms that the library has for my ancestral towns so I didn't look through films, but the breadth of material the library has is unmatched.  I spent a bit of time going through the library but was told to head back later when the library's Eastern Europe expert would be there.

Next up was a talk by Ava "Sherlock" Cohn, the photo genealogist (and fellow Shpikov descendent) who spoke on "Clued In: Petticoats and Puttees: Identifying the Clothing in WWI Family Photographs."  She has a background in art history and costume history.
The day after Ava's grandparents' wedding, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed, which soon led to WWI, the focus of the talk.

Photography and war are intertwined.  The camera catches the mood and look of the time.  We see pictures of soldiers looking brave and patriotic--but some also apprehensive. Meanwhile, the women were photographed in beautiful dresses. 

Ava covered how to date a photo given key elements, including military uniforms. Military also influenced photography and vice versa.

There was then an overview of several different uniforms. The French wore flat-topped caps and long wool coats.

Many postcards had photos on the side. There were some that were mass-market and others that were "real photo" postcards that were of specific individuals.

In the era of black and white photos, some were colorized--including in recent times.  The more recent ones may not have been realistic--you need to do your research to be representative of the time.

Petticoats refer to the clothing worn by civilians at the time, including those of men, on the home front. Fashion changed yearly, so that can help to pinpoint photographs.  There are 4 things that can help to narrow this down:

1) Collar
2) Waistline location
3) Skirt shape
4) Hem length

Theo Vera was an actress that many women tried to emulate.  At the beginning of the war, there were many restrictions on women.  1914 had very restrictive clothing--"hobble skirts" were difficult to walk in.  Men had restrictive suits as well.

As the war began, women had to take over men's jobs and began driving cars. Corsets were loosened and clothing became easier to move in.  By 1915 there is also a military influence where there are suits integrated into women's fashions.

In 1916, designers decided that soldiers needed to see something feminine on their women. Clothing became much more frilly. They tended to be very rich colors, often with thick fur collars.  Skirts became shorter, and women loved how much more easily they could move.  But the war departments were upset because it used so much extra material that could be used for the war effort.  There was a stark contrast between men suffering in the trenches and the bright frilly clothing worn by women back home.

By 1917 those "war crinolines" were gone. Skirts got "short"--just below the knee and gave women more freedom to move.  Clothing got much more influenced by the military with suits and drab colors.  At the same time, Lady Duff-Gordon started new dreamy romantic designs. This was a way to keep women's minds off of the horrors happening in the war.

There were war brides at the time--men would advertise for women to write to them, and they often first met at the wedding.  Wedding dresses mirrored regular fashion--shorter dresses, bell-shaped skirts....

In 1919, there were fashion shortages. The skirts became narrow and short. 

Fabric dyes were made in Germany. After the war started, they had to rely on American dye which was inferior.

A "puttee" was a long strip of fabric wrapped from the ankle up the leg. It was useful in trench warfare to protect the legs while running through vegetation and to protect them in water-filled trenches.

She reviewed mobilization dates for various countries as well as the date that each country adopted the wearing of puttees.  Often there were family pictures with the man in uniform, but looking at the women's dress can help to date a picture.

She reviewed various uniforms and elements to differentiate various ranks and unit type.

I then went to an IAJGS media lunch. IAJGS does so much more than just put on this yearly conference, and there was lively discussion on a wide variety of topics towards furthering Jewish genealogy.

Then I went back to the library. The expert basically confirmed that I've exhausted both their online and hard-copy resources. So while I was hoping to find new information, at least I know where not to look!

Then I attended the Subcarpathian SIG meeting. Unfortunately, the intro specified (both on a slide and orally) "No Social Media." So I can't cover that here.

More to come in another post covering the rest of day 2!

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