This month, we asked for your help solving a photo mystery.
In the House Collection, 20 photographs have a portrait of a Representative on the front, but an image of someone else on the back. The mystery men on the reverse appear to have been carefully cut out of a publication and pasted down. We asked for your help in identifying the mystery men on the back of these photos.
One suggestion we received is a positive identification. The image of Philip Pitt Campbell of Kansas, a photograph taken by Harris & Ewing between 1903 and 1923, came with a few clues. Above the mystery man’s head are the letters “Ala,” possibly indicating that the person was from Alabama. The man also had a distinctive haircut with bangs. One clever reader suggested that the mystery man could be Representative Stanley Hubert Dent, Jr. Dent served around the same time as Campbell, was from Alabama, and had the same haircut. Result? Solved.
Could the mystery man on the back of New Jersey Representative Thomas Joseph Scully’s photo be Finly Hutchinson Gray of Indiana, as an astute reader suggested? The text reads “[E. or F.] H. Gra,” which looks like part of Gray’s name. The man in the image is young, with dark hair and a long face, but a poster of Finly Gray from the House Collection shows him as a much older man. Gray served from the 62nd to the 64th Congresses, and then again from the 73rd through the 75th Congresses. While the poster shows him in his later years, the image on the back of the Scully photo could be Gray during his first few terms in the House. Result? A likely match.
The back of North Carolina Representative Hannibal Lafayette Godwin’s photo spurred two different suggestions. This mystery man has a notably large, dark mustache. Using People Search to match images of Members of Congress with similar whiskers from the same time period, one reader suggested William Connell of Pennsylvania. A possible match, but Connell appears to be sporting more of a handlebar mustache than the mystery man. The reader also suggested Minnesota Representative Andrew Volstead, whose facial hair might be a match. Result? Inconclusive.
A literary Twitter user took a different route for New York Representative Luther Wright Mott’s photograph. The photo on the reverse shows a brooding mystery man with a heart-shaped face and a mustache. The reader suggested that the man might be Edgar Allan Poe. We suspected that the mystery man would be a Member of Congress—but an American author of Gothic and mystery tales? Nevermore. However, another reader suggested Jefferson Monroe Levy of New York to solve this mystery man based on the text visible below the image (“ferson M”). Result? Likely.
One reader recognized several mystery men, including:
This perceptive reader noticed that all these Representatives served during the 62nd Congress, which would suggest that the images came from a 1911-1912 pictorial directory of Congress. If this theory is correct, it would help narrow down the mystery men to only those Members who served during the 62nd Congress.
Thanks for your suggestions and for following along! You can view all the photo mystery tweets here. If you have additional suggestions, you can continue to tweet at us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for another photo mystery, check out our 65th Congress panoramic photo identification project.Follow @USHouseHistory