Category Archives: Women in Trousers

Riding Habits, 1910

Horseback riding, cover of Delineator magazine, May 1910.

Riding coat pattern 3773, Butterick; from Delineator, April 1910. It is not very different from an ordinary suit jacket, except for the fuller skirt.

Butterick coat 3765, Delineator, April 1910.

This girl wears a long or 7/8ths coat to cover her riding breeches.

Riding coat (and breeches) for a teen-aged girl, left, and a sailor suit for her little brother. Butterick patterns in Delineator, March 1910.

A woman on horseback had formal and informal clothing choices in 1910. This riding habit in the Victoria and Albert Museum was made by a leading London tailor/designer in 1911:

A lady’s riding habit made by Redfern for Mrs. James Fraser, 1911. Courtesy V&A museum.

London Society Fashion is beautifully illustrated with garments from one young lady’s wardrobe: Heather Firbank. Read about the surprising life of Heather Firbank and see some of her designer clothing at the blog of Tessa Boase. Click here.

Detail of magazine cover by P. E (?) Williams, Delineator, May 1910. Notice the lady’s erect posture as opposed to the man’s forward slouch.

It’s possible that the illustrator of the magazine was more interested in the graphic possibilities of white than in accuracy, but Delineator did feature patterns for women’s riding habits in 1910.

Butterick riding suit for girls 8 to 16, pattern 3636. March 1910.

I find it interesting that this teenage girl is riding astride, while the adult woman shown in April is riding sidesaddle.

Riding coat and matching breeches, Butterick 3636 for girls 8 to 16.

The riding coat and skirt for adult women (up to size 42 bust) were sold separately:

Butterick riding coat 3773 was shown with a specialized skirt for riding sidesaddle.

Delineator, page 304, April 1910.

Delineator, page 304, equestrian skirt detail; April 1910:

Safety Equestrian Skirt 3717, for riding sidesaddle. Does it have a breakaway strap?

Detail of the inside of the safety equestrian skirt. Delineator, April 1910.

If you can figure out how this skirt appears very full (as in top image) and very narrow (as here,) you are way ahead of me. But then, I know nothing about riding sidesaddle!

Is it possible that she is wearing long underwear instead of riding breeches under the skirt? In that case, she will not be safe from embarrassment if she’s thrown. At any rate, no breeches are included in the pattern.

The boy shown riding a donkey is not actually dressed for riding — he is probably at a beach resort where donkey rides were a seaside attraction. The sailor suit in many variations was standard clothing for boys.

A boy enjoying a ride — presumably a slow, easy ride — on a donkey. Delineator, March 1910.

Butterick pattern 3688 shows two variations on a sailor or pseudo-military suit for boys ages 4 to 10. March 1910.

The swastika is an ancient symbol with religious meaning for people in India and for Native Americans. It’s used facing both directions on the back of the sailor collar. In 1910, it had no association with Nazis.

Here is my uncle, Harris Barton, in a sailor suit His father was a tinsmith, or plumber. (It might be my Uncle Mel, born a few years later….)

Probably Frank Harris Barton of California, born 1894.

(Yes, my uncle,  in spite of those luxurious curls!) Harris was born in 1894.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Boys' Clothing, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Edwardian fashions, Hairstyles, Sportswear, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Sanforized Ad, 1933

Ad for Sanforized, pre-shrunk fabrics, Delineator, June 1933.

Shrinkage used to be a big problem with new clothing — especially if a cotton garment puckered and got tighter after washing, and kept shrinking with subsequent washes.

Text of Sanforized ad, Delineator, June 1933. “Sanforized process of controlled shrinkage, Cluett Peabody & Co.

“…New Sanforized-shrunk process by which chic new cottons and linens are completely shrunk so that they absolutely cannot shrink no matter how often you tub them.”

In 1930, Sanford Cluett devised a method for pre-shrinking fabrics without giving them that “limp washrag” look.

“Basically, he designed a machine on which cloth passed over a contracting elastic felt blanket where the pulling action during manufacturing was adjusted by a pushing action…. This process was named Sanforized in his honor [the d was dropped], registered in 1930 and ultimately became a worldwide famous trademark.” — Pamela Snevily Johnston Keating, quoted by info.fabrics.net

Many textile manufacturers were already using the Sanforizing process by 1933:

Textiles listed in the Sanforized ad, 1933. The letters A – G refer to fabrics shown in the Butterick dress patterns illustrated on the same page.

The cooperation of advertisers and editors in fashion magazines is nothing new. Delineator magazine was published by the Butterick Publishing Company, and all the fashions sketched for this ad were made from Butterick patterns.

Top of Sanforized ad illustrated with Butterick patterns. 1933. It looks as though the actual fabrics were photographed and the photos incorporated into the illustrations.

Not all these patterns were also featured in fashion illustrations in Delineator, but I did find some:

Right, Butterick 5104, called “White Frosting.”  Delineator, June 1933.

It looks so different that I wondered if the pattern number was printed correctly, but in this enlargement I see the same three-button closures at shoulder and hip:

Two versions of Butterick 5104. 1933. The white frill could be purchased by the yard and basted into place.

Two illustrations of Butterick 5140. June 1933.

Girls’ dresses 5159 and 5153, Butterick patterns from June 1933, featured in ad for Sanforized fabrics.

Obviously, washable, shrink-proof clothing for children was a great improvement! Butterick illustrated number 5153 on a slightly older girl. It’s still very appealing:

Left, Butterick dress 5153, for girls 8 to 15.

“It’s a dress you 12-year-olds can make yourself!”

Pattern 5159 was for younger girls:

Butterick 5159 for girls 2 to 7. The shoulders are “ringed” with tiny sleeves, extending the shoulder. “Nice in white with tomato red buttons and piping” or in gingham.

A Swatch of Sanforized Fabric and a  Doll Clothes Pattern

Not forgetting that most girls like dolls, and finding a very clever way to encourage women to order a sample of Sanforized fabric, the ad offered a pattern for doll clothes:

For a dime, you could order a doll clothes pattern including enough Sanforized fabric to make doll pajamas,  a dress, and a beret.

I haven’t found a specific Butterick pattern with those three ingredients — perhaps it was exclusive to this offer — but there were plenty of Butterick doll patterns available:

A doll wardrobe which included beach pajamas. Butterick 436 from December, 1930. (The little girl at left wears lounging/beach pajamas, too.)

Butterick doll wardrobe 443, from October 1933. Dresses, pajamas, and a beret-like hat.

A doll college girls used to decorate their bedrooms…. Butterick 438, from December 1930. “A very rakish beret” was included.

Those may not be “real sailor trou[sers]” as known in the navy, but they are definitely 1930 chic!

Let’s “give three cheers and one cheer more” for Mr. Sanford L. Cluett and his Sanforized fabrics!

2 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Women in Trousers

Vintage Photos for the Holidays

A little girl communicates with her “Paw Pa” through an ear trumpet. Family photo.

“Can you hear me now?”

It’s time for my annual reminder to keep a box of unidentified family photos and an acid-free pen or a pencil at hand for the quiet moments at family gatherings.

Gertrude, Mack, and Nina Holt with their mother “on her 70th birthday” (1938.) They lived in Pulaski, Tennessee, and sent this to their brother Leonard, in the Army in San Francisco. “I sure do wish Leonard was on here and then the 4 children and mother could all be together.”

Any time you gather with your eldest relatives and friends is a good time to chat about the past. Family stories need to be passed down. (Bonus: you won’t have to talk politics….)

If you think you’ve heard all the stories before, consider that now that you are fully adult, seniors may be willing to tell you things they wouldn’t speak of when you were a child:  failed marriages, lost loves, siblings who died young or were never mentioned for some other reason. (I certainly learned some surprising things when I asked as a adult!) Perhaps there is a terrific story behind one of those faces. Besides, sometimes the stories are funny — and just waiting to be told when the time is right.

Today’s photos come from a side of my family I never knew.  My aunt Dorothy’s husband, Leonard H. Holt, died suddenly a short time before I was born.

My uncle Leonard Holt, serving in World War II.

Dorothy, Holt, and Dorothy’s mother. Redwood City, CA, about 1919.

Dorothy is dressed in hiking clothes, and Holt is wearing “civvies” although he served at nearby Camp Fremont, an Army training camp during the First World War.

L. H. Holt standing in front of a Southern Pacific Railway building in San Francisco. Picture dated 1923.

Dorothy did tell me that Holt was very particular about his clothes, and had his army uniforms tailored to fit well. Look at his elegant shoes! After Dorothy died, I found some of Holt’s silk shirts (with white French cuffs and made for a detachable collar) stored in the cedar chest that once held her wedding linens — a “hope chest” as unmarried girls called them. Holt’s shirts were beautiful, in soft pastel colors or stripes that epitomized the Arrow Shirt man’s look.

I think they were married about 1925. In 1930, Holt was still in the Army, and the couple lived on the Presidio, a beautiful Army base in San Francisco.

Dorothy and Holt vacationing in the snow, early 1930s.

In spite of war-time travel restrictions, Holt’s nephew (?) Jody Holt (serving in an Army band at the time) was visited by his sweetheart “Miss Meek” and his mother (?) Sally Holt, in San Francisco. 1945.

Holt died of a heart attack not long after this happy family visit.

Dorothy was so grief-stricken that she had a sort of breakdown, and didn’t speak of him very often, but she kept up a correspondence with his large family, including the Garners (his mother’s family) in Tennessee. In 1975, someone sent her a photo of the old family home on the farm:

“The little old home on the farm, Pulaski, Tenn, Oct. 1975. Mack Holt’s Farm.”

Mack was still alive, and his new home was much larger.

Holt’s brother Mack apparently kept the old family farm, maintaining the tiny old farmhouse, and lived in a newer, larger house — a family success story. There is great information on the back of the photo, including “Mack J. Holt, Murry Drive” & “Leonard’s brother.”

The great thing about photos exchanged by mail is that they are often labeled or signed, including long notes on the back  — a treasure for genealogists.

Many of these children are Leonard and Dorothy’s nieces and nephews. The back of the picture is full of information.

The back of a photo of many Holt family children. It tells us that Holt’s sister Nina had five children, and that his sister Gertrude had children (one called Hickie) and grandchildren. I don’t know who Estelle was, but that’s a trail to follow.

This photo gave me the names of Nina and Gertrude’s husbands: (Oddly, there’s another Mahlon in the family, her uncle….)

“Nina + Howard” and “Gertrude + Mahlon”

This photo is so old that is has cracked, but luckily the faces and their names are intact: “Leonard’ s Father The Holt Boys John & Mahlon Holt.” JH is on the right.

Unfortunately,  not all the pictures mailed from Tennessee are labeled.

All I know about this couple is that they were photographed in Pulaski. Is this the same mustached man who appears far right in the large group photo below?

Perhaps there are folks in Pulaski, Tennessee, who will recognize their ancestors in this large, undated picture. (It’s 7.5 x 9″) I’d be happy to send it to someone who’d treasure it.

Studio photograph of the Holt family of Pulaski, Tennessee. There are no names on the back, but I think I recognize John Holt, standing 2nd from right, from another photograph. (He died in 1904.) I believe one of the young boys is Leonard H. Holt.

The woman seated center in this photograph appears to be wearing a mourning hat and black veil.

Detail of woman in widow’s cap.

Could the man seated in front, with a large mustache, possibly be this mystery man, photographed with both Holt and Dorothy, probably in the 1920s?

Unknown man with very large mustache, standing with Leonard H. Holt, probably at the Presidio in San Francisco, probably 1920s.

Mustached mystery man with Dorothy Barton Holt, probably at the Presidio in San Francisco, and, judging from her clothing, in the 1920s.

I believe this man was a visiting relative — there are many pictures of him. I could easily believe he’s from Tennessee….

[For any genealogist interested in the large group picture — or in any of these people, I believe these are relatives of Leonard H. Holt, born in Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee on February 2, 1893 or (probably) 1894. His parents were John Richard Holt (1868-1904) and Metta Ann Garner (1868-1939).  Their other children included Gertrude “Mamie” Holt (1893-1986), Katrina “Nina” Holt (1897 – ?), and McCallum “Mack” Holt (1900-?) My Uncle Holt (his wife never spoke of him by any other name) died of a heart attack while serving in California in 1945. At the time of his death, according to his wife, he held the rank of captain. They were childless. I think he was a Freemason, and Dorothy belonged to the Eastern Star — for those who can search such records. I have many photos of Holt family relatives, and no one to give them to.] You can contact me through witness2fashion@gmail.com

4 Comments

Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Boys' Clothing, Children's Vintage styles, Menswear, Musings, Shoes, Uniforms and Work Clothes, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Ladies’ Pajamas from 1920

These pajamas were featured in an ad for Rit Dyes. Delineator, April 1920.

I found several images of women’s pajamas (or pyjamas) in this April issue of Delineator. Only one was a Butterick pattern; the others appeared in advertisements. They all had this in common:

These pajamas from 1920 are gathered at the ankle.

Constriction at the ankle must have been a “thing” that year. (It wasn’t new….)

Butterick patterns for April 1920 include the “pajamas or lounging robe,” center, No. 2055.

This pajama pattern was sized for misses and for women up to 44 inch bust measure — so it was not aimed at teens and college girls only.

One-piece pajamas, also sleeveless, were shown in an ad for Dove Undergarments and Lingerie.

An empire waist nightgown or pajama could be purchased from the Dove lingerie company. Delineator, April 1920.

A one-piece pajama, April 1920. Dove ad.

Another stylish pajama can be seen in the upper right corner of this fabric ad:

These college girls are wearing print kimonos and lounging pajamas in an ad for Serpentine Crepe. Delineator, April 1920. The wall is decorated with pennants from East Coast universities, including Smith, Wellesley, and Radclifffe — women’s colleges.

Serpentine Crepe was made by Pacific Mills, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. That’s their circular logo on the wall, below.

Pajamas, detail of ad for Serpentine Crepe, 1920. I do like the pattern of flying birds.

Gathering around the ankles was not new; I’ve seen it in 1917…

Butterick pajamas from 1917. No. 9433 for girls or women.

… and in new patterns issued as late as 1925 and 1926.

Lingerie for Christmas, Delineator magazine, December 1925. Pajama pattern 6031 is lacy and ruffled, and gathered at the ankle.

Butterick pajama 6947 is scalloped, with gathered ankles trimmed in Valenciennes lace. Delineator, July 1926.

The sleeveless, V-necked 1926 top is similar to the 1920 pajama pattern No. 2055.

In 1920, there was considerable variety in the pajama tops.

The high-waisted top of this one-piece pajama has a square neckline and short kimono sleeves.

The long top of these lounging pajamas is rather like the tunic dresses of the nineteen-teens. The bands of trim look like fagoting or insertion lace.

This sleeveless pajama top, Butterick 2055, looks cool and summer-y. [Notice the very different hairstyles on these women!]

But the alternate view of 2055 shows a version with sleeves and collar variations — and pajama bottoms that hang straight and loose at the ankle.

Alternate views of Butterick “pajama or lounging robe” No. 2055. Delineator, April, 1920.

It’s possible to imagine this sailor-collared pajama venturing out onto the beach — eventually.

Butterick 5948, pajamas from April of 1925, can be worn as beach pajamas. Delineator.

When did women start wearing pajamas? The Vintage Traveler wrote about that question here. Sweet dreams, everyone!

 

3 Comments

Filed under 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, Hairstyles, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Women in Trousers

1930 Golf Culotte Dress

Butterick golf culotte dress pattern 3285. Delineator, June 1930.

This one is for The Vintage Traveler, who writes about and collects women’s sportswear. I do wish the original page I photographed had not been so faint; in trying to show details of the dress, I may have “enhanced” the photos a bit too much! (The lady golfer is illustrated with a deep tan, but by trying to show her dress more clearly, I have almost erased her face.)

The page title was Country Clothes Designed for Smart Places.

A selection of clothes for the country; Butterick patterns from June 1930.

That probably explains the model’s trim spectator pumps:

Wait — is this a dress (“frock”) or a skirt and [“tuck-in”] blouse? A skirt would be much more practical  when nature called — no woman I know enjoys disrobing in a public restroom cubicle. The short sleeves are a new feature in 1930.

The “tuck-in blouse” of Butterick “culotte frock” 3285. I like the way the colored band around the neckline becomes binding for the button placket(s).

Notice the belt that accentuates the natural waistline — still new in 1930. And the knees are well covered by the new, longer skirt.

When the model is standing normally, the pleats front and back would conceal the fact that this is a trouser skirt. [In trying to show the “trouser” effect, the illustrator may have exaggerated the shadow. The fabric is not sheer.]

Top stitching controls the pleats for many inches. This enlargement shows the back view — with longer sleeves and the blouse untucked.

I find this outfit quite attractive — almost timeless, but it’s eighty-eight years old. The illustration is by Marian Blynn.

Butterick culotte frock 3285, June 1930. Delineator magazine.

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Shoes, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers

Fashion Advice for Summer, 1933 (Part 2)

Beach pajamas [aka pyjamas]; detail from Delineator cover, August 1933.

When we think of summer fashion, we usually think of loose clothes, cool dresses with bare arms and backs, and sporty clothing suitable for vacation activities. Here is Part 2 of summer fashion advice from Marian Corey, writing in Delineator,  June 1933. [Click here for Part 1.]

For Tennis

Butterick 5182, at right; “The pinafore frock that buttons down the back is THE tennis dress.” Delineator, June, p. 61. (This is the only illustration of it that I found.)

Delineator, June 1933, p. 61.

Like dress 5182, Butterick 5025 buttons in back:

“Bermuda” is the name given to this dress (Butterick 5025) which, like tennis dress No. 5182, buttons down the back. “…Known technically as a beach dress although it is far more apt to be worn off the beach than on.” Delineator, April 1933.

Notice the bare backs and chic suntans of these blonde models.

“Hello Everybody” is the name given to Butterick 5021, at right. From Delineator, April 1933.

Bicycle Clothes

Clothes for bike riding and skating, Delineator, June 1933.

I didn’t find any illustrations of divided skirts in this issue, but there were good-looking slacks or beach pajamas, and shorts sets, too,

Butterick 5219 could be made as trousers or shorts. Delineator, July, 1933.

The Talon fastener — a slide fastener or “zipper” — was still new in 1933; many dressmakers would not know how to install one.

Butterick slacks pattern 4884 had a sailor influence in its double row of buttons. The shirt pattern was included.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/1934-june-p-17-sea-sun-sand-4884-5219-pants-500.jpg?w=423&h=498

Left, Butterick 4884 photographed for Delineator in June, 1934. The reclining model wears Butterick 5219.

Shorts (or slacks) pattern 5219 was featured again in July; this time No. 5219 was christened “Eight Bells.”

Slacks pattern 5219 (“Eight Bells”) pictured with a bathing suit, 5215 (“Seawothy.”)  Delineator, July 1933, p. 60.

For those too young to remember, this was what roller skates looked like in the 1930’s; they were the same in the 1950’s, when I learned to skate:

You could earn a pair of skates like this by selling subscriptions to Ladies’ Home Journal. Ad from LHJ, August 1936. My skates could only be used with leather-soled shoes; the clamp at the front was adjusted with a “skate key,” but slipped off of tennis shoes.

The Pretty and the Kitsch blog happened to show this photo of women roller skating in trousers (like Butterick 4884 or 5219) or beach pajamas. The photo is not dated precisely, but it’s apt! Thanks, Emily Kitsch.

Bathing Suits

“Don’t get a wool jersey bathing suit — the wool suit isn’t enjoying its usual popularity. The rubber bathing suit and the cotton ones are making it look sick.” Marian Corey, Delineator, June 1933. p. 61.

Wool bathing suits in an ad for Ironized Yeast, Delineator, March 1933.

A wool bathing suit — and especially a heavy, soaking wet, wool bathing suit — did not camouflage any figure faults:

Wet wool bathing suits, late 1920’s or early 1930’s. All (well, nearly all) is revealed as the weight of the cold water pulls the knit suits tight against the body.

This cotton bathing suit was designed by Orry-Kelly for Bette Davis, seen wearing it. Butterick briefly offered line-for-line copies of clothing worn in the movies, as “starred patterns.” This one is from June, 1933; Delineator.

Marian Corey recommended cotton bathing suits, like this one, Butterick pattern 5215. June 1933.

Two versions of Butterick bathing suit 5215, from July and June, 1933.  “Jersey tights” were worn under the skirt  or shorts.

[You can read more about Butterick Starred Patterns from several movies: costumes for Bette Davis by Orry-Kelly, Katharine Hepburn by Howard Greer, Mary Astor by Orry-Kelly, Kay Francis by Orry-Kelly, and Helen Twelvetrees by Travis Banton.]

If you’re curious about the “beguiling” drawstring neckline dress mentioned by Marian Corey, here it is:

Butterick 5173, a dress with a drawstring neckline; Delineator, June 1933, p. 62.

And here are two rubber bathing suits featured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938. In case Ms. Corey piqued your interest: “We know you can think of dozens of reasons why a rubber suit wouldn’t suit you, but even so and nevertheless! You see, they’re good-looking, and so nice and cheap, and they give one quite a figure.”

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/p-70-bathing-suit-btm-text-500.jpg?w=500&h=405

Rubber bathing suit pictured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/p-71-bathing-suit-top-500-text-rubber.jpg?w=500&h=351

Rubber bathing suit pictured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

Beach Pajamas

Gingham beach pajamas and bare shouldered sundress. Butterick 5133 and 5075 , Delineator, May 1933.

In “Gingham Girl” one can crawl about on hands and knees and get in the way of the garden hose without any harm being done. “Gingham Girl ” takes housework in its stride, too, doing away with bulky and unattractive aprons.” “New Low” is the thing for tennis, for there’s nothing to hinder the most smashing serve.” — Delineator, May 1933, p. 52.

Now I’m ready for July.

7 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Bathing Suits, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage patterns, Vintage patterns from the movies, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers, Zippers

Ollie

Can a dress change a life? Probably not, unless you’re Cinderella. But a dress can mark a turning point in your life…. I inherited many photos of a young woman named Ollie Cornelius. Often, there is an air of sadness about her.

Studio portrait of Ollie Cornelius, taken in Colusa, CA.

I’ve been trying to find out more about her from an ancestry site, with limited success. Ollie Cornelius and my mother became friends as young teenagers, and they were still writing to each other in 1950.

Ollie, left, and my mother, right (with ukelele) in a school playground, Redwood City, CA, circa 1918.

Ollie posing in a schoolyard. She is wearing a corduroy jacket over her school uniform. Circa 1918.

Young Ollie on a bench in Redwood City, CA. Although posing for a friend, she doesn’t look happy.

Ollie looks sad in the next photo because, having made friends in a new city — Redwood City, California — she was uprooted when her family moved again, to Colusa, 148 miles away.

Ollie in Colusa, CA, about 1919.

On the back she wrote, “When I had this picture taken I was thinking of Redwood City [That’s] why I look so sad.”

Today friends exchange photos instantly; then, people also kept in touch by mailing photographs back and forth. Luckily for us, these pictures often have writing on the back.

Ollie posing on a bridge, about 1919. This is not a period for flattering fashions…. but she knew how to wear an enormous black tam-o-shanter.

In her later teens, Ollie’s sadness had a more serious cause: she was diagnosed with tuberculosis — the “consumption” that killed so many in Victorian times.

On the back of the bridge photo, Ollie wrote, “This was taken before I was sick.”

Ollie is wearing the same dress in this photo taken at Weimar TB Sanatorium.

Ollie on the steps of her ward at Weimar Joint Sanatorium.

In 1919 there were no antibiotics; the usual treatment for TB was a move to a place with “better air” and complete rest for several months. Obviously, for working class people, quitting work and spending months in a private sanatorium was not an affordable option. Often, they continued working, incidentally spreading infection, until they literally dropped in their tracks.

Another tam-o-shanter. Ollie did not come from a wealthy family.

For a young office clerk like Ollie, TB could be a death sentence. Among men receiving treatment, the mortality rate was 50%.

Ollie and Claude (another TB victim) on the steps at Weimar Sanatorium.

Given America’s current attitude toward healthcare, it’s disconcerting to read that one hundred years ago, public health officials realized that an epidemic of this frequently fatal, contagious disease could only be prevented by treating the poor as well as the wealthy.

The Weimar Joint Sanatorium was created by the State of California and subsidized to give working class people the same chance of recovery as people who could afford private care.

Ollie at Weimar Sanatorium. The back of this photo says, “Where I used to live.” Dated 1919.

Fresh air was considered necessary for TB patients; Ollie is standing by a screened-in sleeping porch — unheated.

Three patients at Weimar; Ollie is on the right. The photo was dated 1919 by my aunt, who received it in the mail.

Ollie made friends with other women in her ward; in spite of their grim situation, they were still young and tried to cheer each other up.

Fellow patient Mrs. Alice Smith with Ollie Cornelius, about 1919.

On early photos, Ollie respectfully called her “Mrs. Smith.” “She was just married above a month,” [when she was diagnosed with TB] Ollie wrote. Apparently, Mr. Smith came to visit, still in his First World War military uniform.

Ollie with Mrs. Smith, who is clowning in her husband’s tunic and hat. “It is her husband’s uniform; her name is Mrs. Alice Smith.” I wonder if he took the photo.

Nevertheless….

Ollie and other young women at Weimar Sanatorium knew they might be facing death.

“…Patients frequently became depressed due to the severity of their infection and the hopelessness of a cure or because of separation from their families. In many cases it was difficult for families to visit either due to the cost of travel or because of the fear of becoming infected themselves. Seeing other patients die was another cause of despair.” — read more.

But a change came for Ollie. Was she really feeling well again? Had her doctors given her hope that she might be able to go home? These pictures of Ollie in a pretty new dress seem to mark a turning point:

Ollie next to her bed on the sleeping porch at Weimar Sanatorium.

Ollie modeling her new dress. Did it come from a catalog? Was it a gift?

Ollie reading in a common dining area. She still has dark circles under her eyes, but this is a different Ollie. She’s happy.

Ollie did recover, at least for many years. Trivial as it sounds, taking an interest in fashion may signal the end of her physical illness and resulting depression.

Ollie in Colusa, CA, about 1920.

Also, her friends had not forgotten her.

Ollie in a chic, sheer-brimmed hat, with my mother. About 1920.

My mother and her friend Ollie, 1920s.

Ollie fell in love:

Ollie and Lloyd Jennings, about 1920.

She got married:

Ollie and her husband. Note her Marcelle-waved hair. 1920s.

Ollie and my mother on a vacation, late 1920s.

Thanks to low-cost care during a public health crisis, Ollie survived TB and returned to active life:

Ollie, second from front, in the snow, circa 1931.

Ollie fashionably dressed (including necktie) for the snow; this photo was printed in February 1931.

Ollie with my Uncle Holt, 1930’s.

How wonderful that she had a future!

14 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Hats, Musings, Sportswear, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers, World War I