Girl in an ethereal dress

Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Photo measuring 3 x 5 inches, inserted in a cardboard frame/folder measuring 4.5 x 9.5 inches. (I have cropped most of the frame from this scan.)

What I know about it:

Photographer is Benjamin of 1429 St, San Francisco. Undated and unidentified, but see comments below.


My friend Jenn gave me this adorable picture for Christmas, and I realized I hadn’t posted to this blog in almost a year. Besides the cute image, Jenn knew that part of the appeal for me would be the fact that the photographer’s address is about three blocks from my apartment. Hunting around on the internet, I discovered that all the San Francisco city directories from the first part of the century can be found online here. I obviously didn’t look through every one, but I found a photographer named Jacob Benjamin at 1429 Polk Street in only two directories, 1918 and 1919, suggesting those two years as the date range for this image. Her stylishly bobbed hair and the big hair bow seem pretty standard-issue for the day, but the outfit is unusual. Considering the way the outer layer must move, along with the ballet-style shoes, I’m guessing she’s commemorating her participation in some sort of dance recital or pageant with a picture of herself in costume. But I’m happy to hear other people’s thoughts. Thanks again, Jenn!

8 comments on “Girl in an ethereal dress”

  1. Adorable. I have pics of my great aunts early teens with those same gigantic hair bows. Definitely fancy dress or dance recital.

  2. Don’t know if you’re on Instagram. But there is a page that may interest you. Can be found at @hotvictorians.

  3. Her expression is really cute. She got her hair cut for the photo or the pageant, because it’s perfect.

    Great to see a new post from you. Happy New Year!

  4. There are pictures of your Baba (Grandmother) Stepahin from that time period with those huge bows in her hair. Then again, I remember lots of big bows in pictures of me from the 40s.

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