Hidden Mothers in family photographs is today’s topic. Photography collectors may already know about the “hidden mother” in early photographs, but I haven’t read much about this in connection with genealogy.

According to the The Hidden Mother Flickr group, there was a photographic “practice where the mother, often disguised or hiding, often under a spread, holds her baby tightly for the photographer to insure a sharply focused image.”

hidden mothers in family photographs sassy jane genealogy

hidden mother sassy jane genealogy

Courtesy Accidental Mysteries

The Accidental Mysteries blog goes a step further and suggests that “most infants during that time were photographed with their mothers holding them. The intended picture was ultimately headed for a frame or mat, so the child would sit in the mothers lap for the photo. When the picture was taken, the mother simply was cropped out to serve as the backdrop.”

There are many fascinating examples of this photographic phenomenon, dating from tintypes up to the turn-of-the-century at the Flickr group and at the Retronaut blog. Have you found one of these in your family photos? I’m going to take a second look at mine.