Ruth in eastern Pennsylvania

Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Carte de visite (CDV) measuring a bit less than 2.5 x 4.25 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is Stearns & Co. of Plymouth and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  [Those towns are about four miles apart.]  Written on the back in pencil is Ruth Mott.


I’m never quite sure how old she is, and I’m terrible at guessing ages in the first place, but to me she looks like a girl with an adult’s face.

5 comments on “Ruth in eastern Pennsylvania”

  1. You must be right , she looks really like a very serious girl ….

  2. I was talking with a lady the other day about how people looked so serious in old photographs. Times were tough in those days, maybe it took a great deal to make you smile. Or, it may have been so expensive to have it done, in those days, that tomfoolery was not the order of the day during photographs. Then again, that may have been the norm by photographers in that time….maybe all three?

    • Thanks for the comment! You’re definitely right in observing that people in older photos seemed to smile less frequently than today. I’m no expert, but I think there are a couple of reasons. One, as you suggest, may be that it was simply more the fashion then. But another reason I’ve often heard is that the technology of old photography, especially in the earliest times, involved requiring the shutter to stay open to expose the film for longer than the instant it takes today. Depending on a variety of factors, including the available light, the sitter might have to remain motionless for several seconds, even up to a full minute, for the photo to come out right. Things like posing stands were used to hold people still, and images of small children, animals, or people in challenging poses are less common because it was harder for them not to end up blurry. Smiles were harder to hold, too, which is one reason people tended to smile less.

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