This photograph captures a family in unknown ethnic clothing, at the Chalmers studio in Madison, Minnesota. Hopefully, a visitor to the cabinet card gallery will be able to identify the country of origin of this attractive family. The parents and their two sons, and daughter, are likely immigrants to the United States. An uninformed guess is that the family is from Afghanistan. The Chalmers studio was certainly a family affair. The business was started by Hugh J Chalmers (1844-1910) who was born in New Brunswick, Canada. He operated a photography studio in Lac Qui Parie (1882-1886) and in Madison (1886,  1894-?). Both businesses were located in Minnesota. He was succeeded by his son, James H. Chalmers (1874-?) who worked in Madison between 1904 and 1922. A third generation was involved with the business. James Kenneth Chalmers (1905-1966) also operated the studio.

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 9:55 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Intriguing photo! The family appear to be caucasion, yet the dress, in my oppinion, looks to be Chinese. You can see similar dress on Dr. Berthold Laufer (1874-1934).

    I hope this link works.

    • You have a keen eye and a great memory. The Laufer photograph is very similar to the immigrant family cabinet card in regard to the ethic clothing that the subjects are wearing. We are left with the mystery of why the clearly Caucasian family is wearing Chinese clothing in Madison, Minnesota. However, I have read somewhere (?) that there was a fad around the turn of the century in which Americans enjoyed wearing Chinese clothing. Sort of an early version of the popularity of the Nehru Jacket in America in the mid and late 1960’s. Thanks for the informative comment and for correcting my spelling error (Lifracombe). Interestingly, the spelling was incorrect on the cabinet card too.

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