French Morocco 1953

 

Family treasures come to us in all different ways. In this instance, we had been hoping to find a picture of Ray Gibbons from his military years for at least the past 10 years. Recently when going through photographs left to us by my mother-in-law, I found an old photo album, the kind with the fragile black pages. She never mentioned it or pointed out the album in any way. Within were keepsakes of a long gone era.

In 1952, at the age of 20, Ray Gibbons joined the Air Force. He was away from his beloved Marie, and they exchanged photographs and letters. Marie confided to me once that many of the letters Ray wrote her are gone. They were too personal to share and so she destroyed them. I selfishly wanted to have a lens into their early life together, as an historian, but I also understand as a woman with children and family, that some feelings are better savored privately. Of the few letters remaining, they are sentimental and show the deep love they shared.

These are just a small selection of photographs from this old album that Ray kept while in the Air Force. He was in various locations around America and also deployed to French Morocco in Africa in 1953. Based on his photographs, he was curious, observant, and often smiling. Most of the people in his photographs are Air Force buddies, all young, all finding their way I assume. Very few are identified, regrettably. Some photographs will have to undergo restoration due to damage from the old paper. I’m hopeful that one of them may be a photo of Ray and his father Henry, as I have no other photos of Henry and we know very little about him. I presume that other branches of the family have photos of him, but time and distance has estranged the family members and photo sharing.

I hope you find these photographs interesting. I did a little research about French Morocco, which you can find at the end of this post.

Moroccan girl, 1953

Church, French Morocco, 1953

Building on base, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Although Morocco has an ancient history of independent rule, Morocco existed as a French protectorate from 1912 to 1955, when it reestablished itself as an independent country. It was originally a sultanate that was desired by various European governments due to its valuable Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. After turmoil in the sultanate at the turn of the century and a threat by Germany, the French protectorate was established with the support of Britain and Spain, both countries with financial and other interests in Africa. Other countries were not necessarily pleased with the French influence, and there were also several rebellions against French rule over the ensuing 40 years.

Morocco is considered to be an exotic location due to its geographical location as well as historical influences of Mediterranean culture. The well known cities of Marakesh, Tangier, and Casablanca are all Moroccan cities with long histories and their own cachet. Marakesh has been mentioned numerous times in relation to the Indiana Jones movies, and of course Casablanca was the location of the classic namesake 1942 film. More recently, scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed in Morocco. The cuisine is considered to be among the most varied due to the availability of spices, meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and the flavorful combinations that have come about due to the many international communities within the country. Varying populations have created an exciting local culture that combines West African, Berber, Arab and European traditions. Traditional clothing may be ornately embroidered and colorful, conjuring images of Bedouin tribes and Arabian nights. It is currently an Islamic nation with the attendant rules of Islamic law, which I won’t cover here.

Further Reading About Morocco

French Protectorate via University of Central Arkansas

French Colony to Sovereign State via Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Morocco via Encyclopedia Britannica

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Sisters?

SD CDVs 6 SD CDVs 1

I wanted to share these two photographs today because of the unusual shawl-like additions to these dresses. Although I titled the post “Sisters?” as a suggestion they may be nuns, but looking at them again, I wonder if they might have been Quakers. I’m not familiar with Quaker dress other than to say it was “unadorned” or “simple.” And nuns might have worn wimples, which these ladies are not wearing. A wrap for warmth would probably be more decorated, and at least fall a bit lower on the arms. These look like capelets or mantles, but again, I am out of my area of knowledge even there. In the upper picture (no background shown) the woman appears to have maybe a necklace on a black cord falling directly along the area where her garment meets in center front.

The photographs have no identifying information, nor do they even possess a photographers’ backmark, so I can’t tell you if they are from America, Britain, or anywhere in the world.  The only thing I can tell you with some certainty is that they are from the 1860s.

Please feel free to comment with any input. This is a mystery to me!

UPDATE: I should not be surprised, it was Iggy aka Intense Guy who found the image below, an example of Quaker dress in the 19th century. It is a modern reproduction made by The Costume Project for the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, located in Shropshire, England. They state that the reproductions are made from original patterns, so I’ll have to trust that this is an accurate representation of Quaker dress in England. Being as the CDVs posted above do not have any indication of where they were made, I can only say they look similar to this example dress, but cannot suggest any sort of other connection. I spoke to some clothing historians, and they thought the cape might have been a pelerine, but having looked up what a pelerine is, I’m not so sure. It’s defined as lacy, with long narrow points hanging down in front, fur and decoration. These seem too simple to be a fashion garment and lack the long narrow points.

37-2-1840s-quaker-lady-try-on-costume-at-the-darby-houses

Image from comestepbackintime.wordpress.com and identified as Quaker dress circa 1840s

Eldorg, Iowa

SD CDVs 3

This is a CDV from the 1860s. We can tell by the card mount details – square corners and the “thin line/thick line” borders. These were popular in the first decade of CDV portraiture. I believe it might be from the second half of the decade due to the image using the full size of the card.

I chose this photograph because of the interesting clothing the subject is wearing. After having researched the Swedish, Dutch and Norwegian ethnic clothes for my previous few posts, I am wondering if this woman is a recent emigrant to the United States showing off the ethnic costume of her homeland.

The back of the card shows the photographer name was Ed. Hudson, in Eldorg, IA. I have checked this over and over and it is very clearly a G at the end of that word. There is an Eldora, IA, but no records so far for an Eldorg. So, could it have been a typo on his cards? Yes, it could. Eldorg is a known surname, so we can guess that someone in the order or print process made a boo boo.

Eldora is a town in the center of Iowa, just NNW of Des Moines. At the time of statehood in 1846, Iowa had been part of the Indian territories and had numerous treaties to dissolve tribal claims to the fertile land that American settlers coveted. The original plan for Iowa’s footprint was much larger, but being as all the territorial negotiations were taking place during the time leading up to 1860 and the American Civil War, territories had to consider whether they would be a slave state or a free state. Northern politicians figured that if they created smaller states, there would be more land to create additional states, thereby increasing the number of free states. Also happening at the same time, if one free state was added, a “matching” slave state had to be added, to keep the balance. Once Florida was added as a slave state in 1845, Iowa petitioned for and received free statehood in 1846.

The population statistics of Iowa’s ethnic makeup are (happily) available online. According to FamilySearch.org, in 1860 (just the time we are looking at in our photo above) there were 674,913 residents in Iowa. Of those, 16% were immigrants, and of all immigrants, 51,503 were from German and Scandinavian countries (Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark), so 7% of the Iowan population.

The costume, with it’s apron and wide shoulder straps, reminds me of the Swedish and Norwegian costumes seen in the Cyclopedia of Costume. It would be interesting if someone versed in these ethnic styles could review the photo and lend an opinion on the ethnic origin of the clothing. It is about the only lead we have on the subject, as her name was not written on the card back.

Additional Information

Iowa Ethnic Groups – FamilySearch.org

The Path to Statehood – Iowa Pathways – via Iowa Public Television iptv.org

A Cyclopedia of Costume – via Google Books

Dutch People?

SD CDVs 7

This is another wonderful image from the San Diego photo buying extravaganza a few months back, and I’m sure you can guess why I picked it up. It’s funny, we were in a warehouse sized antique mall, stalls all over the place, but the photographs were the most busy section. I got there first and monopolized the CDVs as I made my first choices. The cuts were hard because there were so many good images, but in the end, I narrowed it down to 14 and kept it under my budget of $way to many dollars.

The photo could be a photo of a painting because it doesn’t have a true lifelike characteristic to it. The people are too perfect, the shading too soft in places, and there is no true depth behind them.

The photographer was Carl Phillipp Wollrabe of The Hague, Netherlands. I know nothing about am not up on my Dutch but I believe the backmark indicates that Wollrabe photographed Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, and “the late king and queen of Sweden and Norway.” Here’s the text. If you read Dutch and google has got this wrong please let me know.

Z. K. H. Prins Frederik der Nederlanden

En wijlen z. m. den koning en koningin

van Zweden en Noorwegen

Wollrabe was in business from 1859 to 1887. His principle location was at Boekhorststraat 91 until 1887. His widow attempted to keep the business going in 1888, but I didn’t find reference to anything after this time. He primarily shot ambrotypes in the CDV format.

Costume of Wingaker

SD CDVs 2

For your review is a fine image of the ethnic costume of Wingaker Sweden. Wingaker, or Vingåker as it is found in English language, is a town in the central southern third of Sweden.

I found images in the Cycopeadia of Costume that are quite similar to the dress on the middle subject of this image. The apron worn over the dress and the high cap she is wearing is referenced as “ordinary clothing.” I can assume this to mean every day clothing, but the author of this resourceful book spent literally half a sentence on the costume description, unfortunately. I would happily take input from anyone who knows anything about Swedish ethnic clothing, the linen caps, or anything else that can enlighten us.

The studio is once again Eurenius and Quist of Stockholm. There is faint text that references C. A. Soderman, Skulpt but I am unsure how that relates to the studio. Perhaps Eurenius and Quist purchased the image or licensed it from Soderman. I have no clue.

This photo and the previous one of the Norwegian clothing both have a faint pencil mark on the back that says MP but I have no idea what that means either. I wish I had been able to find other photographs by the studio or that referenced MP. It seems like they were once owned by the same person for some reason.

Further Reading

A Cyclopedia of Costume or Dictionary of Dress by James Robinson Planche, Publisher William Clowes and Son, 1879, pp 346

Ethnic Costume of Norway

SD CDVs

This wonderful cdv shows an ethnic costume from Norway. It has been carefully hand painted so as to bring out the navy colored breeches, green vest and red coat of the man, and the green, yellow and red decoration on the woman’s dress. The costumes are fascinating and were probably much more beautiful in person!

The photographer probably made a series of images of ethnic costumes, but this is the only painted image I came across during a recent trip to San Diego, CA. It does make me wonder how this particular cdv found its way from Sweden, where it was made, to almost the border between America and Mexico.I did a little bit of research on the costumes themselves and there is a rich and diverse ethnic costume tradition in Norway. These clothes could be wedding attire, as one website I found referenced women wearing a type of crown or headdress with their wedding clothes. The man’s costume looks similar to one I found from Sunnmøre in the southwestern part of the country. A person more familiar with the many regions and costumes of Norway can better pinpoint where these clothes were from.

The photographers were W. A. Eurenius & P. L. Quist of Stockholm. They were decorated photographers, with silver medals awarded them in 1865, 1866 and 1867. I have one other image from these photographers, also an ethnic costume. Come back soon and take a look.

Further Reading

Bunad – Norwegian Traditional Costumes – My Little Norway

A Cyclopedia of Costume or Dictionary of Dress by James Robinson Planche, Publisher William Clowes and Son, 1879, pp 344-348

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