>Previously unknown photograph of Joshua L. Chamberlain? Part II


Yesterday I made my case for proving that this handsome bearded fellow on the left is actually a previously unknown photograph of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Before you read this blog, you need to go read yesterday’s blog by clicking here.

Go on. I’ll wait.

Insert elevator music here.

Done? Pretty convincing, right? It wasn’t quite enough for me even with all the facial matching and possible documentation that I was able to show all of you. After I posted yesterday’s blog, a few people told me that the police use ears to identify people sometimes because our ears are almost as unique as fingerprints. So I went digging again to find pictures of Lawrence in which his ear wasn’t too covered up by his hair and at the same angle as this mystery fellow. I found this picture for comparison:

He certainly liked having his picture made at that profile angle or maybe the photographers thought he looked best from that angle. I’m not sure. The fact that there are so many profile or three-quarter profile photographs from that specific angle should possibly even be taken into consideration as proof that this bearded man is probably Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. So my next step was to cut out the ears from the bearded man and the known photograph of Lawrence. Here is how they looked side by side:

Strikingly similar, in my opinion. The ear on the right appears to come to a point but in other pictures of Lawrence, that point is actually rounded like the bearded man’s ear on the left. I decided to try and do the overlap comparison like I did yesterday to see how similar or how different the ears were. These were the results of my overlap comparison:


Despite the comparison photograph of Lawrence making the bottom of his earlobe look pointed, the size and features of both of the earlobes are the same. The trouble with trying to identify a person through nineteenth century photographs is that the photographs are going to be blurry and out of focus sometimes. Tricks of the light can actually make the same person look totally different in various photographs. Here are two photographs below that show Lawrence’s earlobe as being rounded at the bottom, to dispel any possible doubts.

In my opinion, the ears are too close to matching to say it’s just a coincidence, especially when you add everything else from yesterday’s blog to the case. Of course, I will never be able to say for certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that the bearded man is Lawrence without a historical smoking gun like a letter or something that specifically says, “I had my picture made today and my beard looked especially bushy,” or something to that effect. Regardless, the bearded man fought in the Civil War. I will give him a good home among my other Civil War artifacts whether he is historically proven to be Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain or not. That’s just what I do.

What do YOU think? Is there enough evidence to say the bearded man is Lawrence?

3 responses to “>Previously unknown photograph of Joshua L. Chamberlain? Part II”

  1. spam30735 says:

    >I still think it is Lawrence… The ears look too alike and even my own ears look pointy in some pictures (like my Senior pics) while all others they are rounded (every other picture known to be me). Go with your gut that it is Lawrence.

  2. Carole says:

    >The other thing you have to remember about ears is that they continue to grow during ones lifetime, like hair, fingernails, and noses … so even the "point" in the older photo could be explained …

  3. dan says:

    I definitely think it is Chamberlain! He is my favorite officer. I also sent you an email in your contact folder on your website to ask your permission to use it as an avatar on my civil war site. Certainly would not be for any profit! I would use the picture that has your name typed across the front of it. It should even bring more people to your website!I thank you for your permission to use it if you see fit to grant it!

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