Category Archives: News

We Need Your Help to Solve a Mystery 170 Years in the Making

Who is this man?

Who is this man?

Who is this man?

In truth, we don’t know. Neither does the Missouri History Museum, which has this image labeled as “Unidentified Man.” It was apparently taken by Thomas M. Easterly, a Vermont native who took up daguerreotyping. Easterly was an itinerant photographer until he settled in St. Louis in 1848, opening a studio that operated until the late 1870s. At some point, probably about 1850, this gentleman walked into the studio, sat down in front of Easterly’s camera, and had his portrait taken. Unfortunately, his name was not attached to the picture, a not-uncommon occurrence in the Easterly collection at the Missouri Historical Society, which includes 284 other photos of unidentified persons. With Easterly and the unidentified man both long dead, it seems unlikely he will ever regain his identity.

Then again, maybe he will. Does he maybe…look like someone familiar? Maybe like…Robert Campbell? Let’s make it so the images are facing the same direction, put them side-by-side, and see what that looks like.

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Is this Robert Campbell circa 1850?



Robert Campbell, circa 1865

Is this the photo of a 40-year old Robert Campbell? Our staff and volunteers are pretty divided on the issue. For some, the eyes and eyebrows are the clincher, as they seem pretty Robert-like. Or maybe the distinctive spacing and shape of the philtrum. Others of us are less sure. Does the nose seem right? Is the unidentified man’s face too lean? If only Easterly had provided a name!


The two images overlaid. (courtesy of Joe Kolk)

In this overlaid image all that was done was to flip the mystery image as noted above and then some simple proportional sizing on the Robert image once it was placed over the mystery image to better line them up. Other than those two things there was no manipulation.

This is why we need your help. Who do you think this man is? Is it possible to identify an unknown man’s photo 170 years after it was taken? One thing we want to avoid is wishful thinking. We want your honest opinion. Please use the poll below, the comments section, or take to Facebook and let us know your thoughts.

Leave a comment here

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New Campbell Booklet Available!

Campbell FamilyFINAL REVISED-1A new booklet about the Campbell family is now available in the Campbell House gift shop on in our online shop! Written by Maureen O’Conner Kavanaugh, The Campbell Family of St. Louis: Their Public Triumphs and Personal Tragedies tells the story of the Campbell family in a visually exciting way.

The booklet is organized topically, detailing Robert’s rise to prominence, Virginia and Robert’s courtship (see below) and the growth of their family, and the family’s trip to Europe. Also included is a list of the family’s famous friends and guests, a discussion of the servants (both free and enslaved) who were integral to maintaining the Campbell’s lavish lifestyle, and a timeline of the house and family. Every page is lavishly illustrated by photographs and contemporary imagery.

The new booklet is the perfect counterpart to our previously published The Campbell House Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir, which tells the story of the house itself. Be sure to get your copy of The Campbell Family of St. Louis, either in our online store or in person at our gift shop, which is now stocked with new items for the new year!


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Click on Alex's picture to learn more about becoming the next Campbell House intern!

Click on Alex’s picture to learn more about becoming the next Campbell House intern!

Not all the work to be done by our volunteers and interns happens here at the Campbell House. Our next intern introduction, Alex, is hard at work parsing through archives as part of our ongoing search for Campbell-related legal documents. Here is Alex…

What are you studying and where? A BA in History at UMSL.

Why Campbell House? Because it is where I was assigned [Ed. note: Well, yes, we do like to keep on UMSL’s radar, so they’ll direct interns in our direction who have never heard or thought about us before. You don’t have to know anything about Campbell House to do valuable work here!].

What are you working on at CHM? I am working on the Campbell Family Legal Legacy Project [Ed. note: We’ve noted before this involves trips to the St. Louis Circuit Court and Missouri State Archives office to dig up old files].

When you aren’t having a blast at Campbell House, what are you doing? Hanging out with friends and family. I enjoy movies, traveling, theater, and hiking!

What is your favorite thing about CHM so far? I have loved looking through all the old documents at the Missouri State archives.

iPhone or Android? Actually, I have a Windows phone [Take that, Apple and Google!].

Favorite color? Blue&Green

Favorite band/singer? Frank Turner

Andy Warhol said that everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame. What happened in your 15 minutes? I was in the newspaper as a child visiting the Magic House.

If you could be teleported anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? I would love to see Machu Pichu in Peru.

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