Woman from Portland, Indiana

Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is S. J. Upp of Portland, Indiana.  Otherwise undated and unidentified.


I’ve always been a little shaky at guessing people’s ages, and this photo just drives the point home to me.  I’d always assumed this woman was in her 30s or 40s, I think partly because she reminds me slightly of my friend Louisa, who is, I believe, (ahem) at the upper end of that range.  But studying this woman’s face, looking for similarities as I compared Louisa’s considerable beauty to hers, it dawned on me that this woman is probably much younger.  So why, aside from my mind’s association with Louisa, would I leap to the conclusion that she was older?  I find that’s frequently the case with these old photos.   Look at her conservative black lace dress and her matronly hair style.  I’m beginning to realize that in my mind, I sometimes associate vintage fashions with the people who would have worn them then, in other words, associating old styles with old people.  After all, adjectives like “conservative” and “matronly” might not have popped into my head if I were looking at this photo a century ago when it was new(er).  That’s preposterously faulty thinking, of course, and I’m not sure my explanation even makes sense, but does anyone else find themselves doing that, too?  In any case, I think it’s a lovely photo of a beautiful woman, and I hope you agree.  By the way, the photographer’s name, Upp, struck me as unusual, so I searched for information, though I didn’t find anything.  But while searching, I found myself wondering, why would a town located in the middle of Indiana be called Portland when it has no port?

6 comments on “Woman from Portland, Indiana”

  1. My guess is that the town was founded (or named) by someone who enjoyed their time in Portland, Maine. Or Oregon, I suppose.

    • Hi Jenn! Yes, that would be my guess, too. Indiana has everything from a New London to a Peru, and that’s just Indiana. Pennsylvania has a town called Indiana! I guess there was a lot of that, people naming things after places they wished to honor. And there’s no restrictions. The U.S. has 17 towns called Franklin, 14 Madisons, 14 Salems, etc.

  2. People in the past had a tendency to look old for their age, in our terms. Remember how hysterical Blanche DuBois got about being 30? The deep crease just under her nose and the highlights on the hair also convey an effect of age not to mention, as you point out, her fashions.

    • Hmm, I wonder if Blanche looked older, or if she just thought she looked old because society then told her she needed to be married and settled by 30? (I mean, besides the fact that Blanche was bonkers, of course.) Perceptions of age across time is such an interesting topic.

  3. Maybe it’s to make myself feel better, but she looks *really* young to me. Mid- to Late-20s?

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