While doing research for a talk on the history and future of vanity, I found this incredible photograph by Max Yavno of “las pachucas” — Chicana zoot suiters, in pant suits! This archive already holds several photographs of women zoot suiters but they’re wearing skirt suits or just the pants and a top. This is such a detailed photo of the entire look of las pachucas from the hair to the shoes. Beautiful!
The photo is called “Two Women”. It was taken in Los Angeles, California in 1946.
Maybe the most stylish librarian ever - check out that fascinator! Lucille Baldwin Brown was the first Black public county librarian in Tallahassee, Florida. This photograph is part of the collection at the State Library and Archives of Florida.
This amazing photograph is of USO performers for African American servicemen in World War II. The photograph was taken in Pensacola, Florida and is part of the State Library and Archives of Florida.
This is a photo of my lovely great-aunt, Helen Seate Cooke. It’s hard to tell when it was taken - she looks young, but she always looked young. :) The flowers in her hair and smile make her seem all the more adorable and youthful. I think this photo was taken in Nottoway County, Virginia, where she spent time teaching. This is my favorite photo of her.
Submitted by Benae Mosby (Washington, D.C.)
This is a picture of my grandmother, Sachiko Hamilton (R), at age 15 and her cousin. It was taken in Japan in July 1944. Several years later, she would meet her first husband, Ernest Ford, Sr. (an African American man), at an army base in Japan. They married soon after and she immigrated to Detroit where she was a seamstress. She worked for Chrysler for 30 years sewing automobile seats together.
I’m assuming the stamp on the picture above is the name of the photographer. She made the dress that she was wearing - most of the clothing that she made had patterns on them.
Submitted by Chanel Hamilton (Ann Arbor, MI)
These two Asian American dancers are performing at San Francisco’s premiere nightclub in the 1930s called Forbidden City. While the club was Chinese-themed, the performers themselves were not all Chinese American. Some were Japanese American and Filipino American. (Click the “Forbidden City” tag at the bottom to see more.)
Less than a decade after this photo was taken, all of the Japanese American performers would be interned under Executive Order 9066. To see more internment photos, click on the “1940s” tag or the “Japanese American” tag - note: internment images will include both these tags.
Source: Museum of Performance and Design, Performing Arts Library, University of California
These are my grandparents, Roberto and Dominga Villegas. My grandfather is in uniform; he fought in World War II. I adore my grandmother’s dress in this photo
and wish that I had some more information regarding it.
From Roberto Villegas, Jr. (Dagny’s father): The picture was taken on January 31, 1944. It was taken in a photo shop on Main Street in Weslaco, Texas across from the church where they were married. They walked across the street after the ceremony. Dad was on leave from the Army and my grandmother, Mamma Piedad took Mom and Dad to San Juan de Arc Catholic Church on Main Street on that day to get married. This is their wedding photo. The dress was purchased at Valdez Clothing Store on Main Street in Weslaco. Valdez was a small local store. This means that he was 17 and she was 16 when the picture was taken. Three years later on January 25, 1947, I was born.
Submitted by Dagny Villegas (Indianapolis, IN)
This is a photo of my grandmother, Louise Seate Bowie, with her husband Clyde Bowie. They are pictured after an outing in Byrd Park in Richmond, Virginia (ca. 1940s). This is one of few photos I’ve seen of the two of them together, and I know few details about their relationship. I like to imagine that they are genuinely in love, and that she’s smiling because he whispered a joke in her ear just before the photo was taken.
It’s likely that the clothes are store-bought because my family has always loved the shopping experience.
Submitted by Benae Mosby (Washington, D.C.)
Everything about Lucy Fonseca (L) from her hair to her socks/sandal footwear combination is striking to me. Here she is posing with Ramona Fonseca (C) and Annie Madalena (R) in 1943.
Rosie Albrann and Ramona Fonseca are part of a long women’s labor and fashion history that extends back to the turn of the 20th century. These garment workers are from the Barenveld Shirt Factory in San Fernando, California (ca. 1943). Their placards read: “We want a union.” and “We want a free country too.”
Gloria Valdez (L) and Viola Soto (R) are standing with a Mexican American World War II veteran, Ed Moreno (ca. 1945). It strikes me that Soto’s dress looks so much like a wrap dress, a design generally credited to Diane von Furstenberg who is said to have “invented” the wrap dress in 1973. Soto’s dress is, at the very least, a predecessor of von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress.
Credit: Los Angeles Public Library
My friend Elissa collects old photographs, and sent me a packet. This is one of the ones that stood out as relevant for your blog. Unfortunately I have no information about who the people are in the pictures, where they were taken, or when. Elissa thinks she found them at a flea market in Chelsea.
Submitted by Lauren Jade Martin (Reading, PA).
Curator’s Note: The car has long signified the notion of “hitting the road” and for Americans, the democratic ideals of freedom, mobility, and masculinity. (In contrast, the home is the visual sign of domesticity and femininity.) This is the reason I always love seeing photos of women posing with their own cars. I’m going to guess from the dresses that the photo was taken in the late 1930s/early 1940s. What do you think - am I way off?
Contestants in the American Legion Pageant at Lincoln Colonnade (ca. 1947).
Credit:Addison N. Scurlock. Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.