Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Negatives are time capsule of 1919 fashion

My late father-in-law Edgar James Wood (1903-1986) was a photo buff. After receiving a camera for his 14th birthday, he took it on family road trips with his father, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) and his mother, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925). 

Ed saved hundreds of negatives (and a few prints) from 1917 through the 1940s, marking dates on the negatives and notes on the envelopes. I used the "scan, invert, enhance" process to turn the old negatives into clearer positives.

Visit to the Baker family in Toledo, Ohio

Thanks to Ed's notation that these negatives are of the Baker family of Toledo, I can identify the two young ladies shown at left as Dorothy L. Baker (1897-1981) and Edith E. Baker (1901-1989). I don't which young lady is which, unfortunately. The photographer didn't write an exact date on the negatives, but others in the envelope were taken in 1919.

These two ladies were Ed's first cousins, and he was in touch with them for the next 50 years. How fashionable they were, fur collar, hats, and all!

Fashion of the time

I did an online search for "ladies coat fashion 1919" and found similar outfits for that year. As a result, I do think the negatives were from late that year or perhaps the following year.

At right is Mary Slatter Wood, Ed's mother, in the warm coat and hat she wore during that same trip. 

Her husband James drove the family from their home in Cleveland, Ohio to Toledo, Ohio, stopping along the way to picnic and to fix flat tires. Mary and everyone else in the car were smart to bundle up against the elements, because their 1917 Ford probably had no built-in heater!


"Fashion" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.


  1. Love the photo of the cousins. Please share more of the negatives turned positives. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I also love the cousins photo. So many interesting fashion details -- from the fur collar to the double button belts on the jackets, a detail which also appears on Mary Slatter Wood's coat. And of course the hats are so distinctive as well. Very nice post.

  3. Looks like a warm coat!