Teacher from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania

Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.5 x 6.25 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is Chandler & Scheetz of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Written on the back is Miss [name] / Teacher Mt Joy School.  I can’t quite make out the name.  Corlis or Coolie or something.  Click here if you’d like to try it yourself, and let me know what you think it is.


Mount Joy is a small town about 90 miles west of Philadelphia, which I don’t think would have been an insignificant trip in those days, reinforcing the notion that getting your picture taken was a more special occasion than it typically is today.  It also makes me wonder if she had her portrait taken while she was a teacher at Mount Joy, or if the caption refers to a different time in her life.  The first thing that always jumps out at me about this photo is not only her striking hourglass figure, but the way it is so smooth, with scarcely a wrinkle or crease from her neck to her hips.  I wonder if a garment like that required a trip to Philadelphia, too.  By the way, according to Wikipedia, calling it Mt Joy is incorrect.  It should be Mount Joy, since it was named after a ship, not a mountain.

14 comments on “Teacher from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania”

  1. Your posts continue to be intelligent and intriguing. I bet it was a relief for her to get out of that sausage dress.

    • Thanks, Mike, likewise. Yes, I can’t imagine that dress was especially comfortable, and to my modern eyes it doesn’t look like it would be especially practical for a schoolteacher unless she was teaching deportment.

  2. I’m wondering if it could have been made of some kind of knit that was a teeny bit stretchy. But this smooth-as-armor look is something I often see in old photos from this period (I’m guessing 1880s), but rarely see in modern movies or plays set in the period. I think it must take an unusual amount of dedication from both the production company and the actor to reproduce this look.

    • I was wondering how that look was achieved, too. And I know what you mean about not seeing the look reproduced much. But it’s understandable, since it seems like the sort of look you’d ruin if you bent more than an inch or two in any direction. Attractive, but not very practical.

  3. Corsets! And she had been wearing them for years, most likely. Knit fabrics as we think of them had not been invented. Part of the bodice was likely cut on the bias, and was probably wool. The only fabrics available at the time were wool, cotton, linen or silk. All natural fabrics.

    • Oh, yes, I should have said I assumed the overall shape came from corsets. I was mostly just fascinated by how they got the overlying fabric to lay so flat. Thanks for the input!

    • ” Knit fabrics as we think of them had not been invented.”
      Knit fabrics were around way before this, although I don’t think they would have been used in a bodice; is that what you mean? I said a *teeny* bit stretchy; I didn’t mean stretchy in the sense of a modern knit with spandex and the like. A wool cut on the bias, as you suggested, seems like it would have a little bit of stretch, so I think you’re actually agreeing with me. (I don’t see any place for boning in this particular bodice, though.)

      I’ve since been researching this period a little more, and now I’m guessing this was late 1870’s-early 1880’s.

  4. “CORBI”……I am pretty sure that is the last name of this teacher. A new fan in Pennsylvania, Delaware County.

  5. I know this post is oldbut I just discovered this blog. I study names as a honby and felt compelled to respond. I wonderif her name is Coralie. The wroting in he word school shows the second O to be almost non existant. With the handwriting perhaps the O was dropped in Coralie as well. The line is also darker at the end of the name making me wonder if they meant to add another letter and ended up retracing the line at the end of the I instead of making a loop for the E. Cora was a popular (top 20) 1880s to around the 1920s I believe and Coralie and Coraline were also in use. Sadly it is hard to get real numbers on Coralie and Coraline as they were often mistaken for Caroline on handwritten documents of the time. Just my two cents on her name.

    As a teacher I also really like this photo!

    • I’m glad you found my blog! No problem about commenting on older posts. There are samples of old handwriting you might enjoy on other posts, too. Thanks for your feedback on this one. I like your thoughts on it.

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