Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

With the woman in the center holding a book, I wonder if this is a group of classmates or school friends? Upon enlargement there are several details worth noting about the photo.

  • Upper left, the subject has a large cross necklace. Based on the dark area next to her neck, I believe her unbound hair was pulled forward over her shoulder. She also has what appears to be a shorter dress, suggesting she is younger than the others.
  • The upper right subject has quite a wide lace collar on her dress, and she also has pulled her unbound hair forward over he shoulder. Note also her bangs are frisée – a popular style in the 1880s and 1890s.
  • The center woman has a large necklace, but the pendant is obscured. Could it also be a cross? She rests her hand on a book.
  • Lower right, this lady is looking askance at the camera, which gives her an air of cynicism. She also holds a book in her lap, and I think she has a bracelet on her wrist.

There is a white “leg” of something in the lower left and lower right of the image. I have two theories on this. One, these could be parasols or some object the ladies brought with them which were supposed to be out of frame. Two, this could be the same object appearing on both sides of the image. Tintypes were often printed in a multiplying camera – repeating the same image over and over on the sheet of metal (picture the school wallets we all used to get, just right next to each other). If the image was slightly off center, the photographer might have cut the images out a little to the side in order to center the four girls a little better, thus catching the “leg” of whatever that is in both sides of the final cut piece of tin. You can also see a faded line rising vertically along the right edge of the image, giving credence to that theory.

One thought on “Four Young Women

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