I have worked in the museum's archives for 21 years and am still making discoveries. Of course, there is always something new to be learned, but there are also mysteries that need solving. The mysteries often lie in the fact that when some items were donated, insufficient information was collected from the donor.
Archives volunteer, Al Westerman, took on the task of researching the stories of the individuals in the photo album. Since the donor had long since passed away, census records and genealogy sites would be a great source.
Being so far away from his family would have made the photo album a precious possession to Arthur. Arthur Bales, photographed as a child, circa 1878. LCDM 64.23.8
Of the twenty-seven photographs in the album, three are unidentified. One of the unidentified images is of a handsome young couple. It is very possible that they are Arthur's parents, Martin and Juliet Bales (nee Goodson).
There are several reasons to think this is a tintype of Martin & Juliet Bales (circa 1880): 1) The man holds a strong likeness to photos of Andrew and Albert Bales (Martin's brothers), 2) the woman holds a likeness to photos of Polina Goodson Miller, Juliet's sister, and 3) the opening in the album for Martin & Juliet's photo is empty, while this photo was placed in an opening without identification, possibly having been removed for viewing and put back in the wrong page. Sadly, we can never be 100% certain.
Album page for Martin & Juliet's photo. The page is empty though it is apparent that a photo of Arthur Bales' parents was once held within.
In addition to the striking tintype of the couple, the album holds other image treasures.
The open album shows the page at left missing a photo, and at right a photo of Reverend Jacob Peck Goodson (1822-1895), Juliet Bales' uncle. Goodson was a minister with the Methodist Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
As part of the care of materials in the museum's collections, it is important to properly identify and research them. With more information and understanding, items can be more fully utilized in exhibitions and by researchers.