Aunt Mary Corbin

Click here to see it larger.

What it is:

Carte de visite (CDV) measuring approx. 2.5 x 4 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is M. M. Ripperton of Plainfield, Illinois.  Penciled on the lower front is Mary Corbin.  Written on the back in pen is Aunt Mary Corbin / March 5 – 1852.  Also, see comments below.


Sometimes when I have a bunch of photos, even when I’ve purchased them together, it takes me a while to figure out how they are all related, or even to realize they are all related in the first place.  I knew I had some photos of the Sullivans, and some photos of the Halls.  Now, as I’m doing this blog and paying more careful attention, I’m realizing that it’s the same family, and that the Sullivans are the matrilineal ancestors of the Halls.  The link is Emma Sullivan Hall, pictured here.  So I’ve created a special category for this family, labeled Sullivan / Hall, showing all the posts I’ve created with photos I believe are from this family, and where I can post more.  That brings us to the lovely Mary Corbin here, with her pretty hair and tinted cheeks.  How does she fit in?  I’m not sure.  Why do I think she does?  Well, this photo was purchased with the others.  And the handwriting on the back is the same as on the pictures of little Artie and little Mary Sullivan.  So I’m guessing she’s family, despite the different last name.  Since the handwriting on the backs of Artie and Mary’s pictures identifies their birth and death dates, I’m guessing the 1852 date here is Mary’s birth date, rather than the date of the photo.  I’m terrible at guessing ages, but she looks like a teenager to me, or very early 20s, which would then give this photo a date of approximately the 1860s or early 1870s.  Perhaps a clothing expert can weigh in with a further opinion on the date.  Since there’s only the one date, it’s also possible these notes were written during Aunt Mary’s lifetime.  Even without all these elaborate family associations, I think this is a very nice picture, and I hope you enjoy it.

6 comments on “Aunt Mary Corbin”

  1. I agree she looks like a teenager. If forced to guess I’d go with 16.

    Her corset is very, very uncomfortable, I’d say.

  2. I agree; this photo was not taken in 1852 as her dress is a very different style from what would have been worn in that year. The photo is from 1865 through around 1872 (allowing for her clothes to be a bit out of date), I think closer to the later date because she’s not wearing a hooped petticoat under her dress, but the style of her dress — shape of the bodice, shape of the sleeves, and straight belt with rosette in front — says “late 1860s”. I have a photo ca. 1866 of a girl wearing a very similar style dress — but over a small hoop — with a similar hairstyle, too, come to think of it! in my collection. That, plus the relatively narrow skirt (compared to the 1850s and 1860s) made of shaped panels of fabric instead of plain rectangles, plus the huge bow at her collar and the sharp pleated trim at the hem (hem interest and heavy trim like sharp pleats were all the rage in the 1870s), put her in the transitional style years when the hoop of the 1860s was going out of style, but before the bustle of the 1870s really came into fashion (around 1874).

    • Thanks for all this information! I’m always grateful for the input of somebody who has more expertise than I do. And I’m glad to have my guesses verified. 🙂

  3. This portrait is really striking, and I enjoyed reading the knowledgeable and helpful comment by ‘thehourfortea.’ The thin paper mount with border lines is definitely from the 1860s, as your commenter suggested. Your blog is a fantastic resource! I always learn something when I browse through earlier posts.

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