I have a photograph of an ancestor from England who I believe was born in 1818 (in Somerset) but became a police constable and lived in Devon, Gloucestershire and London later in life. I am guessing that the photo was taken in about 1880.

On the front the photographer's name is "Carl M. Olson Göteburg" and on the back it says "Carl M. Olson Fotograf, Göteborg. Rangströmsliden. Plåten Förvaras För Efterbeställning."

Does anyone know whether Carl M. Olson travelled to England to take photographs or whether it is more likely that my ancestor travelled to Sweden?

Also, does the wording allow anyone to place a date range on the photo?

1 Answer 1


Carl M. Olson established his studio in Rangströmsliden in 1882, so the photograph is taken after that.

There are four collections with a total of over 300 of his portraits here: http://www.genealogi.se/portratt/files/7.html

You can deduce some things from the text on the backside, and that is that by 1891 the text generally included the telephone number, and after 1894 it generally mentioned the prizes he won. So the photograph is likely done between 1882 and 1890.

Carl M. Olson died in 1900, but his widow ran the studio in his name until the 1930's. His collection of negatives was given to the City of Gothenburg in 1940, and here comes an intriguing part:

"Plåten Förvaras För Efterbeställning" means "Plate is stored for further orders", which means that the original negative plate of your photograph may be in the collection of the museum. It is surely worth calling them and asking them about it. Perhaps that collection includes extra information, like which year it was taken.

I can't find anything about Carl M Olson going to England. The book "Göteborgs Fotografer" by LarsOlof Lööf may have more information about Carl M Olson. It seems to be out of print, although you probably can find second hand copies, but of course it is in Swedish.

It does seem more likely that your ancestor visited Gothenburg some time between 1882 and 1890.

  • I think you meant "prizes" not "prices" in the third paragraph?
    – TomH
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 9:00
  • Many thanks for that excellent info. I've not been able to find him or his wife and daughter in the 1881 England census so maybe they spent a year or more in Sweden in the early 1880s. Once I can find an address for the museum I will certainly drop them a note.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 9:55
  • I've dropped the museum a note and also just found out that the daughter subsequently married a Swede (in England) so I am guessing they they did go to Sweden.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 11:37
  • @PolyGeo: It does seem like it. What are their names? I could take a look in the Swedish records to see if I can find them. Gothenburg is a big place, but you never know. :) Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 11:39
  • Thanks @LennartRegebro - the names I know best are James Browning (born 1818, Old Cleeve, Somerset) and his daughter Elizabeth (born 1871, Bath, Somerset). However, Elizabeth's mother (just labelled that way) who is not James' wife (and may or may not be called Ann - possibly Swedish) is also in one of the two photos by Carl M. Olson. Elizabeth married Oscar Olaf Cedergren (from Gotland, Sweden) in England in 1891, and she was enrolled in school in London in 1885 (at age 14) so possibly that marks when they came back from Sweden.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 22:38

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