Girl from Housatonic, Massachusetts

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What it is:

Photo (a bit more than 2.25 x 3.75 inches) mounted to a cardboard frame/backing (3.5 x 5.25 inches).

What I know about it:

Photographer is A. Joyce Jr. of Housatonic, Massachusetts.  Otherwise undated and unidentified.


Wow, Housatonic Massachusetts, say that five times fast.  I’m a little puzzled by her jewelry.  Am I wrong in thinking that’s a pocket watch on a chain?  That seems like an odd fashion item for a girl, but maybe I’m wrong.  I was also thinking it looks like it’s hanging crooked, not to mention the fact that the chain looks like it’s slung under one arm like the strap of a satchel.  But I’m guessing I’m just not seeing it correctly.  Looking at it again, my second thought is that the chain is looped around her neck, but we can’t see it on her left shoulder because of the puffy sleeve, and that the watch may be pinned to her dress rather than hanging from the chain.  I’d be curious what others make of it.  Meanwhile, I think this is an adorable picture.  A whole novella can be read into the expression on her face.

8 comments on “Girl from Housatonic, Massachusetts”

  1. She looks so young…and innocent. She looks like a shy young girl. The way her bangs are cut reminds me of a chapter in the Little House books when Laura cuts her bangs in the “new, stylish” way everyone was wearing. She has a cute face and probably grew up to be a beautiful woman.

  2. I think it is a pocket watch. Although, if it’s not in an actual pocket, is it still considered a pocket watch? I also think the chain is slung over her shoulder. She be a young girl (what would now be called a “tween”, and the chain is too long for her body. Someone may have had the idea of putting it on her like that. In any case, thanks for keeping me in pre-1900 Massachusetts. Just read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Marble Faun.” That has lead me to read Henry James’ bio on Hawthorne. NH spent most of his life in MA.

    • Good question about whether it’s still called a pocked watch if there’s no pocket (regardless of whether the item pictured here is a watch). And I’m glad you’re finding some connection to your reading. Though I don’t always say so, my posts are sometimes inspired by whatever I have been reading or whatever movie I just saw.

  3. I got the image of Laura Ingalls as well. Although her dress is pretty, it is not fancy which would be more indicative of the wealthy. She can dress up for a special occasion but she looks like she prefers casual clothing. The dress doesn’t fit the free spirit underneath. That is most likely a locket she is wearing, though normally worn around the neck rather than draped from right to left. Housatonic, Massachusetts is a village that even in the year 2000 had a population pf less than 1.400 people. In the 1800s the main industry was built around textile and paper mills.

    • How fun that you both thought of Laura Ingalls! My sister read all those books, but I never did, but I get the general reference, and I see what you mean. At this point I’m leaning more towards whatever that is, a watch or a locket, being pinned to her chest, with the chain simply touching it by chance, though that means she’s wearing a simple chain, which seems odd, too. Hmm, puzzling. But I agree, it’s around her neck and just hanging oddly.

  4. Definitely a little tomboy!

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