Monday, December 11, 2017

Daguerreotype ~ Not an Alcott

In August 2016, I shared images of this daguerreotype that my second cousin sent to me. I wrote two posts about it: Tuesday's Tip ~ Analyzing a Daguerreotype and (Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Is This Eliza May Wells?

The photographer's imprint in the lower left-hand side of the case: A. H. Knapp, 123 Wash. St., indicates that this was produced in Boston in the 1850s.

Even though I theorized that this was an image of our common second great-grandmother, Eliza May Wells, my cousin was convinced that it was an image of Louisa May Alcott's sister, Anna (Alcott) Pratt. (You can see an image of Anna here.)

It should be noted that Eliza and Anna and Louisa were related. Eliza's grandmother, Elizabeth Sewall May, and Anna's and Louisa's mother, Abigail May, were sisters: daughters of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall. I explained the maze of relationships in my post: Cousin Louisa May Alcott.

On December 1, there was a newspaper article in the Boston Globe about another image of Anna Alcott Pratt that had come to light entitled: Never-before-seen photo of Louisa May Alcott’s sister found in old album. The article mentioned the name of the executive director of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, Jan Turnquist. I contacted her through the website and she kindly replied with a phone call to let me know that no, this woman is not a member of the Alcott or Pratt families.

Therefore, until another images comes along to help us out, I'm returning to my original theory of who this is: my second great-grandmother, Eliza May Wells (20 Aug 1839 - 18 Sep 1880) who would have been 16 years old in 1855. She is the only woman in my database born between 1830 and 1840 who was likely to have been in Boston in the 1850s for a photograph.

Of course, she could be a collateral relative who may not be in my database.


  1. Great detective work! It's great that you are following up on leads such as this, and hope someday you will be able to be certain of the identity of this young lady.

    1. I've been meaning to contact someone in Concord for awhile and this newspaper story prompted me to do it (especially since I had the name of someone).

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. They certainly look related to each other. Very similar!

    1. Yes, since they're cousins, it's not surprising that they look alike, but it's nice to get confirmation (even if negative) of the identity of the subject.

      Thanks for the comment!