The photograph above features the family of Felice Andrea D’ANNUNZIO, the great-great uncle of my wife, Sandra. Also in the photograph are his wife Mary Agnes DOUGLAS, and two of their children. The couple look to be approximately in their early thirties.
There is no firm identification on the photograph for the names of the children nor an indication of when it was actually taken, but looking at the data I already possess on the family, I believe the older child would be their first surviving son, Henry Edward D’ANNUNZIO (b.10 June 1902). He is only young in the photograph, but Henry was reported to have lived to a ripe old age of 93, eventually passing in 1995, after having a family of his own.
A previous son of the couple, Anthony D’ANNUNZIO (b.31 Dec 1900), survived for only a few months, and unfortunately passed in 1901.
However, I’m finding that I can not be so certain of the identity of the younger child, in whose honour the photograph would seem to have been taken.
The couple had a third son, Francis D’ANNUNZIO, who had been born in 1904. It is not known if he survived very far through infancy, as I have not been able to locate a death record for this child. However, if the baby was indeed Francis, then that would suggest Henry’s age to be around two and a half years old. In my mind this does not seem to correct as Henry appears to be a little older in the photograph - perhaps three to four years old.
If the above theory is accepted, then it might indicate that the baby could actually be the couples’ fourth child, Maria Eleanora D’Annunzio (b. 7 May 1906). It is known for sure that Maria survived into adulthood, again having a family of her own after marriage, although at this time no evidence of her death has been found.
Furthermore, with the couples’ previous three children having been boys, the birth of a girl might also be imagined to be an excellent reason why the couple might employ a professional photographer to take the familys’ portrait. Which proud parent would not want a memento of such an occasion?
With these facts in mind, for the time being in any case, I will identify the baby to be Maria in my records, until such time as I receive firm proof that I am mistaken.
This highlights just how difficult it is to identify a persons ancestors from unmarked photographs. It is something we have all come across and each of us knows how virtually impossible and downright frustrating it can be at times, but it can also be so worthwhile if you can work out the details successfully by looking for the smallest clues.
Finally, one last snippet of information about this family.
While researching the various censuses, I decided a while back to try and find photographs of the properties or even streets, where our ancestors lived. As well as keeping the photographs connected to my local family dataset, I also upload them to Google Earth and fix place-markers into the locations where the properties once stood.
In searching for the D’Annunzio family’s address on the 1921 census, which I found to be 7 Whale Street, Liverpool, I located the above image on one of the Liverpool Facebook local history groups which post old photos of the city.
Obviously, there are no property numbers to be seen in the photograph (above), but Whale Street itself is physically tiny. It can therefore be safely assumed that the family resided in one of the properties on the left of the photo, as the street possessed more odd numbers than even ones.
But a feature which caught my eye almost immediately was the small wall which stood at the very end of the street (see the enlargement above).
I was already aware that the D’Annunzio family had been photographed out in the open in front of a similar brick wall, possibly due to a lack of suitable light being available within their own home. Looking at the family photo further one can just make out what appears to be the edge of the brickwork as it would frame a door or gateway. In addition, there is also what would appear to be a small step behind the child on the left, at the base of the wall.
It appeared to me that there was little doubt that, as in the enlargement of the Whale Street photograph above, one could clearly see the gateway which led to the rear of an adjacent property, and also the pavement kerbside (the small step in the photograph) laying in front of it. These small details almost certainly confirmed where the family portrait had been taken.
Call me daft if you like, (my other half certainly did at the time!), but I was genuinely overjoyed to find this information just by chance - two totally separate photographs which could be linked together to show the actual location where the original family photograph had been taken.
For this might indeed only be a small unimportant detail in the overall history of the Liverpool D’Annunzio family, but I believe it is one which brings them a little closer to us, and gives us a clear indication as to how closely family history and social history can be related to each other.
Sources: Ancestry, Find My Past, D’Annunzio ‘Generations’, Seaman Family History