This vintage photograph features an immigrant couple posing for their portrait at an unknown photography studio in an unknown location. How do I know that this lovely couple are immigrants? I actually don’t know if they are really immigrants. They have an ethnic appearance and are dressed in a fashion that a casting director might hire them to portray a couple “right off the boat”. What is their ethnicity? I would guess they are European but have little confidence in that hypotheses. The couple are well dressed in a “sunday best” sense. The woman has a cute hat, white gloves, and a purse. The couple are posed next to a vase of flowers sitting on a table. Interestingly, the woman has her arm linked around her husband’s arm. She is clearly not afraid of public displays of affection. This photograph was found in a Vancouver antique store but experience tells me that there is a large possibility that the image did not originate in Vancouver.
One of the wonderful benefits of studying antique images is that they often are remnants of important and interesting history. This cabinet card image is a terrific example of a photographer capturing history with his/her camera. In this case, the photographer was just not cataloging history, but he was part of it. Lusadaran, the Armenian Photography Foundation, cites the photographer of this cabinet card. An article on their web site discloses that Hairabed was a photographer in Worcester, Massachusetts in the 1900’s through the 1920’s. During his photography career he had shortened his name from his given name of Hairabedian. There is no mention of his first name. The article reports that he had likely emigrated to America from the Ottoman Empire. Once here, he photographed the first waves of Armenian Genocide survivors and immigrants settling in the Worcester area. His specialty was taking studio portraits. After doing some preliminary research, I may have uncovered the photographer’s first name. The city directory of Providence (1909 and 1910) lists a photography studio operated by Bedros and Astoor Hairabedian. The 1910 directory notes that Astoor Hairabedian moved to Salem, Massachusetts during that year. This image was most likely taken before 1910 but it would not be unusual for a family photography business to have been operating at two or more different cities simultaneously. Perhaps Astoor had decided to move to Massachusetts to manage or work at that location to replace or join another relative already there. What do we know about the subjects of this cabinet card portrait? Not much. We can only surmise by their dress and appearance that they are Aremenian immigrants to the United States shortly after the turn of the century. The woman in the image is wearing traditional clothing including a scarf covering her head and much of her face.
This photograph captures a family in unknown ethnic clothing, at the Chalmers studio in Madison, Minnesota. Hopefully, a visitor to the cabinet card gallery will be able to identify the country of origin of this attractive family. The parents and their two sons, and daughter, are likely immigrants to the United States. An uninformed guess is that the family is from Afghanistan. The Chalmers studio was certainly a family affair. The business was started by Hugh J Chalmers (1844-1910) who was born in New Brunswick, Canada. He operated a photography studio in Lac Qui Parie (1882-1886) and in Madison (1886, 1894-?). Both businesses were located in Minnesota. He was succeeded by his son, James H. Chalmers (1874-?) who worked in Madison between 1904 and 1922. A third generation was involved with the business. James Kenneth Chalmers (1905-1966) also operated the studio.
Thomas Friedman’s best selling book “The World is Flat” was published in 2005. This cabinet card photograph demonstrates that the world has been flat for a number of centuries. This image features a Portuguese family and their maid, posing for their portrait in Bombay, India. It is likely that their maid is Indian, given their location at the time of the photograph. The family consists of parents and their three sons. Five first names are written on the reverse of the cabinet card, but they can not be listed, because of legibility and language barriers. The photograph is dated 1888. The photographer is Joseph D. Coutinho of Bombay, India.
A family of four poses for their portrait at the Elite Studio in Great Falls, Montana. Everyone is dressed in their nicest clothes for their day at the photographic studio. Note how the older daughter is posed. Her love for her dad is quite evident. Father’s pride in his family is also evident in this photograph. This family has the appearance of a Scandinavian family and in fact, the photograph is from the estate of a Norwegian immigrant family that settled in North Dakota and Montana. It is not clear who operated the Elite Studio at the time of this photograph. The Bulletin of Photography (1916) reported that “Louis Heyn of the Elite Studio sold an interest in his business” to employee Harry J. Keeley. It is likely that the studio belonged to Heyn at the time of this photograph.
An ethnic family is posing for this Cabinet card photograph at an unknown studio and unknown location. The reverse of the card has the printed word “Souvenir” and perhaps thats further information in determining location. Note the wood base of the table which is being used for a prop in this photograph. Leave a comment if you have an idea or information pertaining to the subjects of the photograph or the Cabinet card itself.
M. Goldberg and his family are photographed by Newman’s Studio of Art Photography. The studio was located on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Perhaps the Goldberg’s were recent Jewish immigrants to America.
This Cabinet card is a photograph of four Jewish children posing in a studio with a background (perhaps added during the developing process) of Hebrew words. This is a Jewish New Years card (Rosh Hashanah). The photographer of this Cabinet card is S. Borsuk of Brooklyn, New York. It is noted that the studio is near Eastern Parkway. Eastern Parkway has some interesting history. It was the first “parkway” and was conceived by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1866 (Olmsted designed Central Park). Eastern Parkway was designed as a wide road with several medians with trees, benches, and bike and pedestrian paths. The concept of the parkway was to bring the country to the city.
A Turkish family is posing in their traditional garb for photographer L.A. Sawyer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Cabinet cards capture history and this photograph represents the building of America through immigration. How did this family adapt to life in this country? What issues did they face? Lots of questions and no answers. We can only imagine or read about the struggles of other immigrant families. The inscription below the photograph appears to indicate that this family comes from Bitlis, Turkey. Bitlis is located in southeastern Turkey, southwest of Lake Van and 4600 feet above sea level. It is rich in history, having been controlled by Arab dynasties, Byzantines, Persians and Mongolians. By the 14th century it became part of the Kurdish dynasty and was very autonomous until 1847 when it became part of the Ottoman empire. During World War I, the city was occupied by the Russians. The occupation had adverse impact on Bitlis; it reduced its population and damaged their weaving and dyeing industries.
This Cabinet card is a photograph of a very attractive ethnic family. The photographer is Kaufmann of New York City. Notice the multiple props. Mom is holding flowers and the older child has a book while the youngest is holding what appears to be a walking stick. Dad has a pocket watch and he and his family seem to be wearing their sunday best for this terrific portrait.