Dubious child, posed amid the foliage

What it is:

Photo (slightly larger than 3.5 x 4.75 inches) mounted on a cardboard frame/backing (5 x 7.25 inches).

What I know about it:

Nothing!  Undated and unidentified.


This child looks a little uncertain about these proceedings, poor thing.  There are several things here (the oversize bows, the loosely hanging belt over the white garment, etc.) that just seem strange to my modern eyes, and yet they appear repeatedly in my photos, so I know they were considered normal then.  I am, as with some other vintage photos, unsure if this is a boy or a girl.  I’ve heard that a side part in the hair indicates the child is a boy, though the big bow in the hair makes me cautious of applying that rule here (and makes me wonder how much of a rule it was, and whether it applied during all the years when boys and girls were dressed similarly).  And in case anyone is wondering, I enlarged the center bow but can’t make out what the design is on the fabric.  It looks almost like a Chinese dragon pattern, but it is largely obscured, and I just can’t tell.  In any case, I think this picture is adorable, and hope you enjoy it, too.

11 comments on “Dubious child, posed amid the foliage”

  1. I love these precursors to snapshots so much. The subjects often have that “how long do I have to stay still?” look but the photographer is obviously so much more engaged than with the studio sittings, which seem (I know this is an unfair bias of mine) more for-profit.

    I’m leaning toward girl on this one. That face just seems to age more plausibly as a female.

  2. I was totally thinking “girl” until I saw the little knee breeches. I don’t think boys wore bows in their hair, but girls didn’t wear knee pants.

    Okay, I just looked this up, and apparently boys did sometimes wear bows. I don’t know why I hadn’t realized this, but maybe I was just assuming all those hair-ribboned children were girls when they weren’t.

  3. The child, to my eyes, appears to be wearing a necklace. Ignoring the bows, would a little boy wear a necklace?

    • I can’t speak to which gender might wear a necklace, but I can confirm that there appears to be a thin little chain necklace here. Good eye! Sorry, I probably should’ve mentioned that in the description, too.

  4. On a second look, after weeks of staring at the likes of Buster Brown and Yellow Kid comics, those little knee pants and that middy blouse are just screaming “boy” at me! I don’t think it’s at all strange that a boy might wear a religious medal or something (looks like a cross to me), but a girl would certainly not wear knee pants.

    oh, wait, how did that get in there?

    The clothing might seem girly to us, but the funny thing is, look at what happens when the boys and girls of 1903 really try to swap clothes (this strip actually belies the idea that only boys had side parts, and supports the idea that girls were more likely to wear hair ribbons, but knee pants speak louder than words, imo):

  5. (That second picture up there is a boy, btw)

    • Uh-oh, looks like somebody fell down the rabbit hole of research again. 😉 But thanks! These images are great. And I agree it’s probably a boy.

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