What is happening in this unusual and interesting cabinet card photograph? Your guess is as good as mine. There are thirteen teenage girls in this image who seem to be celebrating something. The girl in the center of the photograph is wearing a crown or veil and is flanked by two girls pressing their hands up against each other as if to create a steeple.. Are they holding a train of a dress? The girl in the bottom row, second to the right, is also holding something, but what is it? Too many questions, and too few answers. Note the girls hairstyles, or lack of hair styles. Long and disheveled hair seems to be the fashion in this photograph. Do you think that this photograph captures a stage production? A Pajama Party? A Wedding? What is your best guess? This photograph was produced by the Bailey studio located at 86 North Third Street, in Columbia, Pennsylvania. Most likely, the photographer of this photograph is William Bailey (born about 1854). At some point in his career he operated a studio in Columbia. His father David Bailey (born about 1830) and his brother (born about 1861) were also both photographers. The 1880 census finds all three of these men living in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania which is located about 80 miles from Columbia. To view other photographs by William Bailey, click on the category “Photographer:  Bailey”.

Published in: on November 24, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I think the your ladies are preparing for (or have been in) a pageant or tableau vivant. This was a ‘living picture’ in which participants portray figures in a classical statuary group or painting (hence the classical style costuming).

    • A tableau would have been my guess, too. Presenting a series of tableaux was a popular way of providing entertainment at a community function, such as a school fundraiser or church fete, but easier than putting on a play since you didn’t have to memorize lines.

  2. Columbia was a prosperous industrial river town in this period, I’m sure there would have been a female Academy. These girls are all the same age and pagents were the rage.

  3. I would say it is some school performance – the fairy queen and her ladies of the court,

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