Handwriting is, by definition, personal. Today, getting a handwritten letter is exciting! Someone put a lot of effort into communicating with you.

Letter-writing between Victorians was common. They were reserved people who appreciated subtlety. When they alluded to personal circumstances, it was typically in a veiled way.

The letters exchanged between Ed and Alice Burdick were an exception in every way.

Alice and Ed Burdick

 

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I came across several photos by Arnold Genthe this week. I’ve written about Genthe and his photography before, so if you’re interested in his background, there’s more information in Through an Autochrome Eye and A Few More Favorites from Arnold Genthe.

One thing I didn’t know about him is that he apparently appreciated redheads! He took some beautiful autochrome pictures that I’d like to share with you.

I’m not sure if this first woman is wearing glasses because of the way this photo has been damaged, but it’s possible. Even with the cracking, it’s a lovely photograph. I appreciate the blurring.

Head and shoulders of a woman with long red hair by Arnold Genthe (1906) LOC.

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I tend to romanticize the past, particularly the turn of the last century. I love the clothes, the art, and the things people used to do. On occasion, however, I come across information or images that make me question whether it was really worth it to have those things, in place of modern conveniences. This time I came across four photographs that opened up all kinds of questions.

The first photograph is from 1906. First, for context, many (most?) autos didn’t provide much protection from the elements, so you would probably have to bundle up on days when the weather was harsh.

1905 auto

 

Bundling up is one thing. However, the picture depicts a woman named Blanche Ring, sporting a “driving outfit”. So what is a driving outfit? This poor woman is outfitted with an overcoat, thick gloves, and a chauffeur-style hat. The whole idea of needing separate clothes for driving gives me anxiety.

Blanche Ring, 1877-1961. Full length, standing by window, facing right; in driving outfit. Nov 2 1906. (LOC)

 

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