Printed in color and selling for a dollar wholesale, the “orange blossom” certificate was the preference of the about twenty-five-year-old Thomas Radle (b. 1861) and teen-aged Mary Dasher (b. ca. 1867-1894). Containing their portrait photographs, the certificate documents that D.W. Proffitt (1841-1913) of the United Memorial Brethren Church married the couple in September 1885 in Pittsburgh. Thomas appears in a suit, derby hat, and with a cigarette in his mouth. Mary wears a long-sleeve, dark-colored dress with a bustle. Although used in a marriage certificate, and especially given Radle’s pose, the photographs, as with the previous couple, were probably ones the couple already possessed. They had not acquired them for the occasion, although possibly for the certificate. A genealogical record, the certificate’s content also provides a trail of evidence for more concrete information about the couple. Mary, likely a domestic servant before her marriage, passed away in 1894. As traced in census and marriage documents, Thomas, a railroad laborer, then farmer, later marries her sister Clara Dasher (1872-1960). He is listed as widowed and she as his housekeeper in the 1900 census. By the summer of 1900, a Pennsylvania marriage license has been issued to the couple. And in the 1910 census, Clara is described as Thomas’s wife.
Weddings are history-making events for the couple married. In the modern era, they can also be history making in terms of cost. The Crider & Brother prints and ephemera are humble, yet symbolic artifacts of wedding commercialization. They are captivating mementoes of wedding practices of the past, while also perspicacious harbingers of wedding practices of today.
Associate Curator, Prints and Photographs and Director, Visual Culture Program
Ancestry.com accessed April 16 and 17, 2018.
Crider & Brother, Publishers and Proprietors of the Original Photograph Marriage Certificates, York, Pa. (York, Pa., 1884).
George Reeser Prowell, History of York County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers, 1907), vol. 2, 497-498.