The majority of carte de visite and cabinet Cards on this site were taken from photo albums belonging to my great great grandmother Hattie Hanks Gregg and her mother Abbey Elvira Brown Hanks.

As I was growing up they always sat in my great grandfathers glass bookcase.

I remember looking through them as a kid and laughing at the crazy facial hair.

My dad always pointed out the last name Hanks and said we might be related to Abraham Lincoln.  We are not as far as I can tell.

hattie hanks album close up

Unfortunately as pretty as the albums are they didn’t do much to protect the photos.  Neither did the cardboard pages inside.

Since the albums spent much of their lives inside the glass bookcase the photos are mostly in decent shape.

But some showed signs of damage.

Many of them are 160 years old after all so I decided to remove them from the albums.

I also managed to safely remove the dedication from Hattie Hanks to my great grandfather Harrison Lewis Gregg I.

“It is my wishes that Harry keep this album.  It contains many of his relatives and I think he will always appreciate it.”


Hattie L Gregg

his mother

Jan 20th 1931

And this letter sent to Abbey Elvira Hanks by her siblings on the occasion of her 70th birthday.

You can read the full letter by clicking on the image.

Before going through these photos I knew very little about CdV’s or cabinet cards.

I knew about tintypes and daguerrotypes but only the basics.

All of a sudden I had a collection of several hundred images of my ancestors and their family friends.

While some of the photos were labeled…

…most of them weren’t.

I started researching strategies for identifying them and learned just how many photo studios there were in the 19th century.

Keeping track of all the info about the various studios became overwhelming.

So I built a system to link photos to database entries for each studio.  Each entry included info on where and when the studios existed and everything else that seemed relevant.

In addition to these photos I also inherited boxes of letters, ephemera, and other things dating back as far as the 1850s.

So I expanded the database to accommodate those items as well.


But these items mean nothing without the people connected to them.

So I also added in profiles for the people in the photos.

Then the people who had sent and received the letters.

Then the people who had been mentioned in articles and texts.

You get the idea.

As the number of people grew and I started adding in their connections in previous generations I had to find a way to organize them.

Since there are plenty of options out there for creating a family tree I decided to make something else.

You can search the people in the archive, filter them by various characteristics and view by generation and relationship.

Each lineage also has a page organized by generation.

If you prefer a traditional family tree you can see my tree on Ancestry.

While researching the photos I inevitably found stories about the people I was researching.

So I added a way to add stories that connect the people, places, events and items in the archives.

Starting off with one that had been handed down through the generations.

My 3rd great grandfather Hendrick Gregg was run over by a train in 1881.

Hendrick Gregg’s Death

I also built custom bookmark, citation, inventory and task management systems.

More on those in a later post.

Please poke around the site and let me know what you think.

The plan is to turn this design into a wordpress theme which can be applied to any wordpress site.

There will also be managed site options for those who don’t want to deal with the techy stuff.

Thanks for visiting and learning about my ancestors.

Evan Hopestill Gregg

Founder of Attic Archives

© Evan H Gregg 2021

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