Monday Mysteries: Doll weddings

The past few Mondays we shared peculiarly labelled images from the negatives in the Bell Museum of Natural History records. These “mystery” negatives are labelled with an “M” along with a number inconsistent with the approximately 6,000 negatives that are numbered and ordered sequentially. This Monday, we share M107 and M109, both captionedDoll weddings.”


In taking a closer look at the “M” numbered negatives, we have learned that a majority of them capture the personal family life of longtime museum director Thomas Sadler Roberts and are dated from as early as 1898 up until the mid-1940s. Dozens of negatives that contain images of his children and his grandchildren are encased in envelopes that include the “M” notation on the cover. Though “Doll weddings” is not dated, we can assume Roberts was documenting the objects included in childhood play. He likely could have been residing over the ceremony with his daughter Catherine* and sons Tom and Carroll, or he was possibly a guest at a nuptials construed by his granddaughters, Catherine, Jane, and Marjorie (Catherine’s daughters).

“I now present Mr. and Mrs. Cat”


*Roberts’s daughter’s name has been spelled both with an “a” and an “e” inconsistently across various publications and in genealogy records. We will use the “e” as that is what is written in Roberts’s own handwriting on the negative envelopes.