Photographer R. D. Crum produced this terrific portrait of an older woman whose hairstyle and fashion choices allows one to say that she is dressed for the part. Before I am accused of being an ageist, let me say that I am well aware that there were, and are many older people who are quite fashionable and contemporary. The fact is though, that if I was casting a movie and needed a character to play an elderly 1890’s woman, this lady has got the part hands down and doesn’t even need to audition. The subject of this photograph has her gray hair parted in the middle and she wears it close to her scalp. She is wearing a black dress, as well as a black shawl which is clasped by a piece of jewelry. There appears to be lace or needle work on her shawl and sleeves. She holds a book on her lap with her thumb holding a place in the volume. She has an extremely serious expression on her face. The photographer, Richard D. Crum was located in the 1860 census and he is listed as working as a “Dagarian Artist” (photographer) in Watkins, New York. The 1870 census finds Crum working as a clerk in New York City and living there with his wife and three children. The 1880 census finds Crum still married to his wife Maria and working as a photographer in Watkins. He lived in a residence with his wife and three children and a 21 year old boarder named, George Stanley, who worked as a photographer (likely “apprenticing” to Crum). Interestingly, living nearby was a Fred Crum, who was listed as a photographer (one of Richard Crum’s children?). An application that Crum made for a passport in 1897 is on record and lists his birth year as 1831. By 1900, Crum had left the field of photography and was living in Ocean, New Jersey. He died in 1913 and is buried in West Long Branch, New Jersey.
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