RootsMagic posted this on Facebook, but I had to pass it along. The web site Retronaut has a set of pictures of people from the Victorian times smiling. It’s not that people didn’t smile back then, but with exposure times of a few seconds it was hard to hold a sincere smile through the whole picture. Unfortunately it gives us the wrong image of what people were like back then, so I was glad to learn of this photo album.
I then went through my own old pictures to see if I could find any from the 1800s with people smiling. My ancestors were pretty stone-faced, but I found a couple. Here is my great-great grandmother Mary Olivia Nichols from around 1870. Not a huge smile, but as big of one as in a few of the Retronaut pictures.
Here is another picture of her, this time a decade or two later with an unknown woman. She knew she didn’t want to look grim for posterity.
One final picture. This is probably from 1905 or so but I like the picture so much I’m going to include it. This shows my grandmother (a granddaughter of Mary Olivia), on the right, making everyone else smile for the camera. Making us smile was something she was real good at.