Eldorg, Iowa


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


Ethnic Costume of Norway


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

All there is to Christmas

Pretty poinsettia greeting

Pretty poinsettia greeting

This particular card was made by the J. Raymond Howe Company of Chicago. As previously revealed, this was a prolific publisher of greeting cards, especially Christmas cards. They were in business between 1904-1914 or 16. I have found references to both end dates in multiple locations, so I’m going to use the outside timeframe.

An interesting note about the company. An artist and writer wrote to the Writer’s Association in 1918 asking if he had any sort of case against J. Raymond Howe Company. He explained that he had come up with a Christmas sentiment, had it printed, and then mailed to friends, family and business associates. He found a few years later that the J. Raymond Howe Company had been using his text, at times with his name attached to it, and sometimes with the illustration. However, the cards published by Howe carried a copyright. Obviously the artist was upset to see his work claimed by someone else, but according to the Writer’s Association, he did not have a case. They opined that by sending the cards without a copyright on them, he had given his work to the public, and therefore it could be used by anyone. I suspect legal opinions and precedent has changed in the last 100 years, as this sounds like opportunistic plagiarism to me!

Regardless, this card carries a kind sentiment:

All there is to Christmas is the love expressed, so – may it be Christmas to you always!

Signed on the back:

Loving thoughts from the Dybdals to all of you.

Dybdal is a Norwegian name and there are a lot of Dybdals in the Minnesota, Dakotas, Nebraska areas.

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