Sequoia Union High School

Click here to view it larger.

This one has some serious damage, but I felt it was worth sharing anyway for a couple of reasons. It’s a 5.5 x 4-inch photo, on a 6.5 x 5.5-inch cardboard frame/backing, taken by Engle of Redwood City and San Mateo, California. It shows, of course, a bunch of people sitting together on some front steps. That, to me, is interesting enough, since I can enjoy the vintage clothes and hairstyles, stare at all the faces, and consider what their body language tells us about their connections to each other. But one thing that makes this photo unusual is the rather casual way everybody is posed, looking every which way, as if the photographer was just testing the set-up before taking the proper portrait. And yet, it’s been assembled as a finished product. Somebody obviously decided that this image was worth producing, and I’m glad they did. The other thing that makes this photo a bit of a treasure (if you treasure such things), and rather unusual in my collection, is the fact that it’s thoroughly annotated! Not only are we provided with a date and location, but the identities of all those people! (At least I assume so. I haven’t bothered to count.) Here’s the back (click the image to enlarge):

This photo is from a box of photos and other items that seems to be from the estate of a woman named Edna Hansen (or the estate of someone very close to Edna). Sure enough, Edna is one of the people listed here, though I haven’t quite figured out which one is her. Sequoia Union High School, in Redwood City, CA, was founded in 1895, so by the time this picture was taken in 1902, it would still have been rather new. (It is now called Sequoia High School, and has moved locations.) Wikipedia says it was founded as a preparatory school for Stanford University, and sure enough, Edna went to Stanford, got her Master’s in Latin in 1909 (I have the commencement program), and became a school teacher in Northern California (I believe in Willits, and possibly other places). I’m not sure Edna would ever have expected details of her life to be presented for public display like this, but as somebody who enjoys examining the lives of others, I’m grateful that she bothered to document her life as she did.

7 comments on “Sequoia Union High School”

  1. Do you know where the original location was? (I’m quite familiar with the later location! It was where my own high school held nighttime football games.)

    • According to a couple of sources I looked at, including the high school’s own history page, it began with 53 students in the top floor of a three-story building that had the elementary and middle schools on the first and second floors. That building was torn down to make way for the Sequoia Theater, which is now the Fox Theatre., on Broadway in downtown Redwood City.

  2. What a fun class photo. I’m having trouble expanding it (I can’t get the link to open), but I can see there are some amused expressions. I’d love to know what instructions Engle gave them!

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