Category Archives: 1910s

Maggie Walker and the St. Luke’s Penny Saving Bank

Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934) is not a household name, but she made a huge difference in the lives of African Americans in the Richmond, Virginia area.  In 1903, she was the first woman of any race to found a bank.  … Continue reading

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Burning the Mortgage, 1915

Photographs often document big moments in life—the wedding, the baby, the new house.  A tradition in Black churches is to mark the end of mortgage payments, the moment when property finally belongs to the residents, with a mortgage burning ceremony.  … 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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Mother and Daughter on a Windy Day

What a difference in style between mother and daughter!  The mother wears either a shirtwaist dress or a shirt and skirt combination in a conservative polka dot pattern.  From this angle her boots look almost flat.  Maybe she had problem … Continue reading

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Grandmother Smith with Ting and Ling

There’s a short, short story wrapped around the side of this snapshot—“Grandmother Smith with May’s two Pekes Ting and Ling.” Although the Pekinese aren’t hers, Grandmother Smith really looks like a dog lover, don’t you think?  Maybe she’s the one … Continue reading

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Mary B. Talbert, Feminist Icon

Why isn’t Mary B. Talbert (1866-1923) better known?  I discovered her through a feature on black women suffragists at the Digital Public Library of America.  However, suffrage was just one of her causes.  She was involved in the anti lynching … 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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The Neighbors at Mission Court, 1919

Are you wearing your mask?  These residents of Mission Court in Pasadena California are all abiding by the rules.  As luck would have it, I found a Wikipedia entry for the small apartment complex, which is now on the National … Continue reading

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