la mia famiglia

recently dad brought home a manila envelope full of old family photographs, some dating to the nineteenth century.  it’s funny to look at these people in antiquated outfits, posing uncomfortably in what were, for the most part, studio portraits.  this side of the family was originally from chicago, and were fairly well-to-do. my favorite images among these come mostly from a single studio session my great-grandparents seem to have booked for their children, probably sometime in the late 1910s, while they still resided in chicago.  what’s really lovely about these photos to me is the idea that people would present themselves so respectably for the camera, because having your picture taken was actually an occasion to look forward to.  (are candid shots a relatively recent phenomenon?)

but it’s interesting how memorabilia like this can give you a sense of how times were (and to some extent an appreciation of how things are today…).  an example: a clipping announcing my grandparents’ marriage in 1938 goes on for several paragraphs painstakingly detailing the outfits of the bride and her entourage- the materials, colours, how these matched various bouquets, what gloves they changed into throughout the evening, what was to be worn on the honeymoon, etc.  headlines like “persian rose velvet matches small hat,” if you get what i mean.

aunt winn

my grandmother, barbara ashby

my grandmother's family

john ashby

my grandmother

mary ashby

my grandmother's engagement portrait, ca. 1938

dad in a vancouver newspaper spread, 1942


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