mayday52020-06-11_224003 This vintage real photo postcard features four students at Whitelands College, along with four children, celebrating May Day. They are holding a thin rope behind their backs. The previous owner of this postcard described the photo as a photograph of a “daisy chain”. I am not sure of what that means, but I find the individuals in this photo, and the nature of what they are doing, quite intriguing.  Whitelands College is located in London and is one of the oldest of all higher education institutions in England. The college is part of the University of Roehampton. The college was founded in 1841 by the Church of England’s National Society. The school was established as a teacher training college for women. It holds the distinction of being England’s first college of higher education to admit women. The school has a long tradition of holding two major annual festivals. One of these is the May Day Festival. Whitelands College held it’s first May Day festival in 1881. The festival is held annually and traditions include electing a “May Queen”. The queens’s “coronation” is presided over by a visiting Anglican Bishop. It is interesting to note that photos reveal that children took part in the coronation ceremony. For example, a young girl would walk behind the queen holding the train of the queen’s gown during the procession. Another tradition at the school is the maypole dance. This postcard was published by J. Russell & Sons. The studio was located in the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was built of cast iron and plate glass. It was constructed in Hyde Park, London and it was the home of the Great Exhibition of 1851. The structure was destroyed by fire in 1936. James Russell & Sons were photographers in England that were active between the 1850’s and 1940’s. The studio has 692 portraits residing in the National Portrait Gallery. This postcard records interesting social history. It is in very good condition (see scans).