The Burnhams of Lawrence, Kansas

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is A. C. Hamilton of Lawrence, Kansas.  The man’s name is separately printed on the front and the back, though the font is fancy enough that I’m not sure if it’s L. Burnham or S. Burnham (opinions on this matter are welcome).  Additional penciled notes on the back say that he is 61 years old and Chloe A. Burham is 60.  What appears to be  1/84 is present, which I would guess to mean January 1884, though it is faded and nearly illegible, so I can’t guarantee I’ve read it accurately or correctly guessed its meaning.

Comments:

Here is another one that I feel has enough interesting points to override the fact that it is badly damaged (note, among other things, the creasing across the lower right corner, which goes the whole way through the cardboard backing).  For one thing, the setting is notable because, to my modern eyes, the straw flooring looks incongruous with the refined quality of the clothing and chair.  Another thing of note is the fact that Mr. Burnham’s name has separately been printed on the card.  This strikes me as unusual, the sort of extravagance I’m used to seeing reserved for dignitaries and celebrities.  With that in mind, I did a quick internet search and found nothing obvious.  Was Mr. Burnham a Lawrencian luminary whose fame has receded into the mists of time?  Or was he perhaps just full of himself?  Hard to say without digging deeper, but meanwhile we can stare at these two and imagine.

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2 comments on “The Burnhams of Lawrence, Kansas”

  1. I would confirm the 1884 date based on the lady’s dress, and the draped overskirt. The straw on the floor was placed to make a studio portrait look more “natural” although to our eyes it looks the opposite.
    Yours in costuming, Lisa A

    • Thank you, Lisa! I appreciate your confirmation of the date. It makes sense that they would be going for a more “natural” look since the backdrop shows an outdoor setting, but I agree, it just looks odd to us today.


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