Category Archives: 1900s

An Immigrant Family, 1906-1908

I find many of the photos for this blog in thrift stores, at flea markets, and on sites like eBay.  Most of them are not dated, which means that I have had to teach myself how to make educated guesses … Continue reading

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A Southern California Thanksgiving, 1906

Why is this family eating outside on Thanksgiving, you might ask.  Late November can be hot in Southern California, as the Santa Ana winds sweep in from the desert.  As I write on this Thanksgiving over 100 years later, the … Continue reading

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Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, Older Icon of the 1900s

If you think you have a pushy mother, you should read about Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont. Born in 1853 to a gentile Southern family in economic decline, Alva married a son of Cornelius Vanderbilt in the 1870s.  With Vanderbilt money … Continue reading

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Flowers and the Older Women—Violets, Yes; Daisies, No

Did you know that flowers can carry messages far behind the beauty of the blossoms? I was reminded of the language of flowers in an excellent exhibit of vintage clothes at my university. The graduate student curator, Ayrika Johnson, assembled … Continue reading

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Pattern Mixing, Early 20th Century Edition

A quick glance at fashion pages these days shows that pattern mixing–combing gingham with florals or dots with plaids–is on trend right now. You might think it is all part of the “anything goes” style philosophy of the current era. … Continue reading

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Ida B. Wells–A Giant among Women

Here is a short list of Ida B. Wells’s accomplishments: school teacher, journalist, newspaper owner, anti-lynching crusader, mother of four, civil rights leader, and black women’s suffrage advocate.  She filled her life (1862-1931) with more achievements than tens of other … Continue reading

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Polka Dots or Stripes?

Let me make a confession—I don’t like polka dots.  Delving into fashion history has made me realize that I have very strong opinions about textile patterns in general.  From the outset I knew I didn’t like flowered patterns. Geometric designs … Continue reading

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A Summer Idyll, ca. 1909

This beautiful photo, an eBay find, is the front of a postcard. A little research revealed that it is what is called a “real photo postcard.” Although such cards had long been in use, the Kodak company developed special paper … Continue reading

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Harriet Strong, the Pampas Woman

When you drive around Southern California, you often see big stands of pampas grass, the tall billowing plant in the background of the photo above. It grows like a weed. Native to South America, the plant was brought here in … Continue reading

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Rookwoods, 1907

Sometimes you find astonishing information on the back of old snapshots.  This one turned out to be a treasure.  It reads: “1907–Miss Helen Culver and Miss French at their home Rookwoods, Lake Forest, Ill.  Back entrance.”  Imagine my delight when … Continue reading

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