Finding the Faces of Manchester
Dorothy ran Studio Alexander for 12 years, it was a popular studio and during this time Dorothy photographed a vast number of sitters for all kinds of occasions. My challenge is to see if I can find some of the people in Dorothy's portraits, to see if they remember their experience at the studio and if one of Dorothy's portraits still takes pride of place on their mantlepiece.
You can see the photographs that I am working with on the slide reel or in our Portraits section, please have a look and see if you recognise a relative or old friend of the family. I am also looking to discover new unseen portraits from Studio Alexander, so especially if you live in the North West take the time to check any old photographs you may have in your attic or any other nook or cranny that may well hold a Bohm portrait.
Dorothy's Studio Alexander portraits may be recognized in a number of ways. Some may have the handwritten signature of "Dorothy Alexander" in the bottom right hand corner, others may have "Studio Alexander" printed on their mount or handwritten on the photographs themselves, some may even be housed in folders which have the full name and address of the studio printed on the front.
Posted on August 28, 2010 - by jennifer
If you have read anything about Dorothy or seen her work recently in the exhibition you will have noticed how she has a way with children in paticular. This was no different at the Studio and Dorothy often asked parents to let her photograph their child without them so she could capture them best.
Phillip Arnold contacted us with such a portrait from the Studio of his daughter Sally Jane Arnold (7th May 1955-16th May 2007), and I think here you can really see how Dorothy has captured the joys of such a childhood. Taken in 1955, Phillip identified the portrait as Dorothy’s as it has the stamp of Studio Alexander on the back and their mark upon the frame.
Phillip actually has a personal connection with Dorothy as he is married to Marjorie Arnold the daughter of Tom Swan, the head of the Ministry of Information for whom Dorothy gave a number of talks, Tom also helped Dorothy’s family in their attempts to come to England. Phillip tells us Sally was Tom’s granddaughter and proud to be such.
Phillip was also kind enough to dig out some other family photographs which have been confirmed as being taken by Dorothy by the lady herself. Phillip believes these wonderful images to have been taken in 1957 on the village green at Harefield when Sally was two, in the images alongside Sally is Tom and Jane Swan. Thank you very much to Phillip for being kind enough to share these joyful images, it is wonderful to see another newly discovered example of Dorothy’s early career.
Posted on August 6, 2010 - by jennifer
The search continues with Jane Peers kindly contacting us to identify a member of the Lucy Clayton Modelling Agency, photographed by Dorothy in the late 1940’s, as Pat Walker (married name Mosedale) who is her aunt, her mother’s sister. This is certainly a stunning portrait of Pat by Dorothy, hopefully we will know more soon about Pat herself and her modelling career. Thank you to Jane and click here to take a look at another of Dorothy’s model portraits!
Posted on April 28, 2010 - by jennifer
Yesterday I met up with Sonia Cooper, a lovely lady who read about our campaign in the Salford Advertiser. Dorothy Bohm’s Uncle was in fact a childhood friend of Sonia’s mother, they were children together in Lithuania then met up again as adults in the UK. Sonia actually met Dorothy when they were both in their 20s as her Uncle brought Dorothy to Sonias house when he came to visit.
At this time in Manchester Sonia worked as a secretary for the Lord Mayor, Albam Abraham Moss who was Lord Mayor in 1952. As well as being Lord Mayor Moss ran a buisness based in a group of old victorian houses (now replaced with The Printworks!) which shipped the scrap ends of cloth rolls to third world countries, and Sonia had to do a lot of work for this runnng errands on foot between here and the Town Hall.
Sonia very kindly brought to us a portrait of her and her husband Victor Cooper, taken to commemorate their engagement. Sonia remembers they had been courting for six years before Victor popped the question, so needless to say this was a very happy time! Sonia also brought a portrait of her sister, Rivelyn Herbst. The script on the back of her sister’s portrait says that this is for her sweetheart-so two very loved up discoveries!
Posted on April 28, 2010 - by jennifer
Last week I met up with Patricia Hartley, a lovely lady who got in touch with me recently as she has a graduation photograph of herself taken at Studio Alexander in 1958. This was the year when the studio was passed from Dorothy to Leslie Reece Hall who continued the studio for a number of years after. In fact recently we discovered that the studio continued to be passed on and is still running in Manchester in another location but under the same name!
Patricia was one of a handful of female graduates in the 1950’s, graduating in English and Psychology from The University of Manchester. A Mancunian born and bred Patricia returned to the University in 1975 to do another undergraduate degree, this time just in psychology. Patricia really has had an amazing career, going on to do a PHD at Salford Univeristy in Body Image in Anorexia Nervosa sufferers, Patricia then set up the Worlds First organisation to help anorexia sufferers. Originally called Anorexic Aid, the organisation is global, with Patricia winning two American awards for her achievements, and is currently known as b-eat. Now living in Didsbury it was was amazing to meet such an inspirational woman, and from my point of view it is really interesting to see how such a strong female photographer came into contact with such another forward thinking independent woman at this time.
Posted on April 28, 2010 - by jennifer
As well as Steve’s identification of his Mothers half sister on the blog I have been contacted by a number of people with portraits of their own! This is absolutely brilliant and will really enrich our display of Studio Alexander Portraits. I will be meeting up or speaking to all our discoverers over the phone or face to face in the coming weeks so will let you know about the discoveries once I have a few more details for you! But for now…
For the past couple of weeks I have been corresponding with a lovely lady called Barbara Arrowsmith, who got in touch with us with the help of her granddaughter Hannah Bloor. Barbara has identified one of Dorothy’s portraits which is in the exhibition as well as having one of her own-which I hope to bring some information on and image of to this site very soon!
Firstly, Barabara identified this sitter of Dorothy’s as Sheila Curley, with whom Barbara worked and trained with at Hope Hospital in the early 1950s. Sheila was recognised by the authorities as the 1st nursing cadets matron martin, a very high accolade to achieve.
Once this class of nurses had been through their preliminary training they all decided to have their portraits taken in uniform to commemorate the occasion and they chose to do so at Studio Alexander. I’ll bring you some more information on this when I post the nursing portrait from Barbara.
The last Barbara heard Sheila was running a nursing home in Eccles, where she is from, so if anyone knows any more information then please get in touch!
Posted on April 19, 2010 - by jennifer
The exhibition is opening this week!
Dorothy’s portraits are currently in the middle of being hung and the space is looking fantastic! The exhibition is open this weekend so try and make it down if you can-I promise you will not be disapointed!
I have also been having a lot of interesting enquiries about the finding the faces project, I will be meeting up with a few of our discoverers this week and as soon as I have I will be sure to let you know all the details!
Posted on April 14, 2010 - by jennifer
As part of my search to find the faces I have been using a large number of online archives, as of yet none have aided me in my search by finding a face but I have found some really useful sites along the way.
If you happen to be reading this blog and are interested in your family or local history try these tip offs from me and they may help you find what you are searching for…
-The Peoples History Museum (especially if your relative was a bit political!)
-The National Archives (which houses the governments offical archive)
-The Manchester Jewish Museum (who have a collection that focuses on social, cultural and religious history in the Greater Manchester area in paticular)
-Greater Manchester Pastfinder (who hold listings from over 4,000 archives held by local government in Greater Manchester)
-Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society -I have been talking to them about helping me find faces among their members and if you have any kind of query it is worth getting in touch with them as they are very efficient and lovely!
-The Documentary Photography Archive -A brilliant website which documents the life of the Greater Manchester region with over 100,000 archive images dating back from the earliest days of photography, including family photo albums which also includes studio portraits!
On another note aside from family history I cannot say enough how brilliant the National Media Museum (based in Bradford) is in terms of photographic history, housing a vast range of old and new cameras this place is really worth a visit! They also house “Insight” which is the Museums Collections and Research centre which offers a wealth of information and a behind the scenes look, which, I can say having done it myself, is quite an experience!
Whilst my search using the portraits and what little information we have on them has only got as far as the Lord Mayor I’m pleased to report that a number of other people apart from Steve have been in touch! I’m keeping it hushed for now until I have more information to bring you but keep reading and I will report on these new discoveries very very soon!
Posted on April 9, 2010 - by jennifer
The first of Dorothy’s Studio Alexander portraits has been identified! Steve Flynn has left us a comment identifying this very beautiful woman in black as his Mothers half Sister, Cynthia Jones, who lived on Hulme Hall Lane, near Bradford Road in Manchester in the 1950’s!
There have been a lot of stories going out in the media this week about our campaign, on the BBC in paticular, there was also a piece in the Guardian yesterday about Dorothy. Hopefully with all this information out there soon many more faces will be found!
Congratulations and thank you to Steve Flynn for identifying the first “Face”!
Posted on April 7, 2010 - by jennifer
This is the first “face” I have been attempting to “find”. To do this I have been using the archives at Central Library. I was informed by the Library staff that this man is a Lord Mayor as following a certain date this is what all Mayors were called. Using their register of Lord Mayor’s of Manchester I have been able to find some names which may well belong to this dignitary.
- Leonard Bramwell Cox, Esq, who was Lord Mayor, 1943-1944
- William Philip Jackson, Esq, 1944-45
- Hugh Lee, Esq, 1945-46
- Thomas Henry Adams, Esq, 1946-47
Miss Mary Latchford Kingsmill Jones was then Lord Mayor 1947-49, but I think we can rule this name out!
- Robert Moss, esq, 1949-50
As Dorothy began Studio Alexander in 1946 this may well narrow the search down to the last three names, thankfully with Miss Mary Latchford taking two years out the equation this narrows down the possibilities quite a bit. However it is always best to check a bit earlier, as we can never be sure for what commemorative purposes such a photo may be taken, whether it be pre or post their term.
The next step is to look up the names of these Lord Mayors in the Library’s biographical catalogue. For all these names there are biographical newspaper cuttings or other articles available. These usually refer (rather glumly) to obituaries which tend to come with a picture, which is exactly how I was hoping to find this first face! However the Library has now stopped pulling such information due to its imminent refurbishment so unfortunately this discovery can go no further…
However, these names are still very useful to have, if you think you might know the family of this Mayor, are a relative yourself, or have any information which you think may be useful then please get in touch. So near but yet so far!
Whilst at the library I also asked for suggestions on how to find the living family of this dignitary, incase there was a way to easily the trace the family for all these names. However, they informed me that whilst it is relatively easy to trace family history it is -due to data protection etc.-very difficult to trace someone living now, in fact, they said my best bet would be hiring a private detective!
Posted on April 7, 2010 - by jennifer
As well as my research into this area this week we have gone public! The campaign to get the city involved in finding Dorothy’s sitters has been launched, keep an eye out for its progress in local press as well as on national news, for example on the BBC website. Tomorrow morning I will also be speaking on BBC Radio Manchester, to listen, tune in at about 10 to 9!
It is brilliant that people and press have instantly been inspired by our project to discover the identity of Dorothy’s sitters, hopefully it will bring a number of new discoveries to this site very soon!