We all like a good challenge sometimes and one presented itself to me in these three images:
While they are not aesthetically beautiful they are lovely documents of a specific time and place. All images are from Quincy, Massachusetts. The first is of the Coddington School, the second of the Old First Church, and the third is of the residence of William Coddington. The inscription on the back of each reads, “H. Paulmier 2 Landscape Pl. Yonkers, NY.” Since photographs are most useful to us when dated and ascribed to a photographer I decide to find out who this H. Paulmier could be.
Library of Congress has a name authority heading for a Hilah Paulmier. Not only is this, but her full name listed as Hilah Coddington Paulmier. An interesting connection. It turns out that we have materials for Hilah Paulmier, mostly books on holidays published in the 1930s and 40s. But is this the same Paulmier? And if so, how can we be sure? I look in almost every biographical resource I can think of. She wrote some books, published a few newspaper articles but she’s just not famous enough to be found.
It was time for the census. I searched for a Hilah Paulmier and found her in the 1900 census and the 1910. She was too young to have an occupation and was listed as a student. Somehow I couldn’t find her in the 1920 or 1930 census.
She has an unusual name, why was she still so hard to find? I decide to search for all the Paulmiers in Yonkers and when I do, I find her. She had not married and never changed her last name. Her first name, however, was misspelled in both the 1920 and the 1930 censuses, once as Hilar and again as Hilda. But I’m sure it’s her, and this time she's listed with a profession: Librarian! (at the NY Library, could that be us?) The address also matches: "2 Landscape". A little more genealogical research shows that her mother’s maiden name was Coddington. With all of that, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve found our photographer.