On the Farm, 1910s

farm3Although these photographs are of the same woman, they are of very different quality. In the picture on the right, developed in sepia tones, we can make out what looks like a simple cotton checked dress, one that could have easily have been made at home. On the left, the light parts are so overexposed that almost no details of her full apron and collared dress are clear. Based on the length of her skirts, I guess both snapshots were taken sometime in the 1910s.

What caught my eye was the shawl, a clothing piece I don’t often find in old photographs. I’ve mainly seen them in pictures of women in immigrant communities, like Louis Hine’s famous photos of the New York’s Lower East Side. There shawls were probably an inexpensive substitute for coats.

But that’s not the case here. Posed on her airy front porch, this woman looks like she picked her striped and fringed shawl for its style, not its cost.

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5 Responses to On the Farm, 1910s

  1. The shawl is interesting. Can you tell what she is holding? Hat? Bag?

  2. Valentine says:

    a very stylish shawl! I would be proud to wear such a shawl today…and it would probably cost more than a coat.

  3. Jen O says:

    Looking at this, I wonder if the woman might have been an immigrant (her age, simple hair style, and the photo date seems about right). That might explain the use of her shawl for ‘going out’. Most fashionable women had given up the use of this type of rectangular shawl after the transition out of crinolines and into bustles (c. 1870’s). The only other reason I can think of for her to be wearing a heavy woolen shawl is that this might actually be a ‘lap robe’ and she’s off in a buggy where she might need that lap robe during the ride.
    Do you think it may be the same gingham dress in both photos since the lighter photo shows her right sleeve, which looks like gingham (can you see that in the original photo?).

  4. I have seen shawls such as hers in both catalogs and knitting books from the teens through the twenties. Bellas Hess, National Cloak and Suit Co., Miranda Knitting for examples. Shawls were very much in style, and ranged from gorgeous chiffon squares for a summer evening to the practical wool articles such as our lady is wearing. The most ubiquitous 1920’s shawl is, of course, the embroidered Spanish shawl which was the height of fashion and could cost thousands of dollars. There are also pictures of shawls one could knit which had flaps to insert arms, but were still shawls rather than sweaters. Love your site!

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