A historical approach to family photography: class and individuality in Manchester and Lille, 1850-1914.
Abstract: The historian cannot afford to dismiss family photographs as mere symbols of bourgeois hegemony as critics and sociologists have done. Workers, moreover, frequently obtained their portraits, not to imitate their bourgeois "superiors," but to show their pride in their own accomplishments and their children's. Family collections of the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth-century can open up a world of life, death, aspirations, and sorrows when we investigate the archive surrounding such images. Here the author investigates the stories behind family collections in two European industrial towns, in order to discover how ordinary men and women use photography to construct their own histories.
Article Type: Essay
Subject: Photography of families (Social aspects)
Author: Hudgins, Nicole
Pub Date: 03/22/2010
Publication: Name: Journal of Social History Publisher: Journal of Social History Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: History; Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Journal of Social History ISSN: 0022-4529
Issue: Date: Spring, 2010 Source Volume: 43 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs
Geographic: Geographic Scope: France; United Kingdom Geographic Name: Lille, France; Manchester, England Geographic Code: 4EUFR France; 4EUUK United Kingdom
Accession Number: 223732161
Full Text: Every family has its joys and its horrors, but however great they may be, it's hard for an outsider's eye to see them; they are a secret. --Anton Chekhov (1)

Writing on nineteenth century photographic portraiture often celebrates pictures produced by the most luxurious metropolitan studios or upper-class amateurs. (2) Portraits and family photographs have also served as source material for Marxist, feminist, and postmodern critics. (3) Scholars have analyzed the portraits created by the likes of Nadar, Claudet, and Disderi - a group of photographers dominated by French-born metropolitan artists. Alternatively, pictorial analysis has focused on the signs and symbols of wealth and status, whether or not the subject is identifiable. Surveys of photography, or more specialized studies, have revealed the vanities and excesses of the upper class ladies and gentlemen who posed for those photographers' cameras. We see illustrations from the world of the Victorian theater, the Tuileries, military officers, and Whitehall, in addition to the celebrity authors of the day who posed for well-known photographers. We also see publications that feature or discuss portraits of the down-and-out from the cameras of John Thomson, Paul Strand, and others like Dr. Barnardo or Arthur Munby. (4) Few scholars, though, have investigated what personal photographs could have meant to their original owners.

The standard literature also explains that by the 1860s, hundreds of commercial studios throughout Britain and France began catering to ordinary Europeans seeking portraits. But, by focusing on the most valuable or iconic collections from, say, the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Prints Department of the Bibliotheque Nationale, curators and art historians have left the mystery unsolved, of exactly how portrait photography entered the lives of ordinary families. By "ordinary," I mean the millions of shopkeepers, mechanics, schoolteachers, and factory workers who also loved their portrait photographs. For, although many Victorianists agree that studio photography was affordable only to "the solid middle class" (5) and the wealthy, we nevertheless come across portraits and albums dating from the 1870s onward, which belonged to working-class individuals. Single portraits and collections are hidden in plain sight within municipal archives, private collections, and antique shops in countless towns around the world. How then were working-class and petit bourgeois men and women able to obtain photographs, despite the fact that such objects remained relatively expensive even after 1870 or 1880? The literature offers us few hints.

Here I will begin looking into the nature, meaning, and value of family photographs by analyzing portraits within a wider historical archive. Whether preserved by an institution or within a private collection, family photographs are visual pieces of a larger archive, which includes regional data and literature, autobiographies, interviews, photographic paraphernalia, official certificates, and hand-written letters. Drawing examples from two different regions, Lancashire and the Nord (and in particular the cities of Manchester and Lille), we will follow photographic recordings of marriage, work, social life, children, and death among working-class and petit bourgeois family collections. More importantly, we will explore why ordinary people in industrial towns began collecting photographic images, and how they used photography to build a visual sense of their own past.

A comparative framework - Anglo-French in this case--is useful for investigations of family albums, owing to the often scattered or scarce nature of the precious evidence. Where one region may offer a hint about trends and practices, another region can provide confirmation or counter-examples, which enrich our conclusions. Rut, even with comparative examples, we have to be careful not to generalize about private photographic practices, even within a particular region. The historian respects, relishes even, the variety of lived experience. The purpose of the Lancashire-Nord comparison here is twofold: First, we can bring out transnational similarities and differences. Secondly, we can begin to correct an imbalance in the literature, which has assumed metropolitan practice as the norm while ignoring other environments (in this case, industrial). A comparative analysis can also offer a healthier perspective on patterns in the evidence and on unusual practices.

Dismantling a Few Assumptions

One of the most accepted notions about early photographic portraits is that their subjects either conformed to bourgeois ideals of materialistic display and "family values," or they aspired to do so. From the dawn of the profession, Pierre Bourdieu (the sociologist) noted, photographers had a "well-defined social function, and fulfilled it in conformity with precise norms" as set forth by the "traditional bourgeoisie." (6) Likewise, Jean Sagne has explained that the photographic portrait exhibits:

Using theories derived from Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault, Sagne and scholars like Anne McCauley and Marianne Hirsch have placed the nineteenth-century portrait studio at the center of a web of hegemonic institutions created by society's powerful notables. (8) The mania for carte-de-visite portraits during the Second Empire, McCauley has written, "could have succeeded only in a materialistic era in which the physical appearances of the family... were seen as important revelations of moral character." (9) In other words, the "cartomania" that gripped England and France during the third quarter of the nineteenth century signified more of a mass conformity to bourgeois, imperialist values than any democratization of self-expression.

Indubitably, the signs of wealth and self-congratulation emerge from the photographs of richly dressed subjects of the era, as many dix-neuviemiste historians have shown by way of illustration. And on the occasions that humbler families sat for group portraits, the effort toward respectability often shows itself. (10) Contemporary critic Patricia Holland has noted that the "fascination of such pictures is precisely this embrace of the conventions." (11) Whatever class one belonged to, it was understood that a certain standard of neatness and, if possible, elegance, optimized the photographer's results. Do we not show the same fussy behavior today when putting ourselves in the hands of the professional photographer? Foucauldian assertions about "hegemonic norms" of appearance, though, have been based mostly on the deliberately staged, formal portraits produced in the theatrical ambiance of the studio. What critics have failed to consider is what particular photographs - only obtained after a considerable amount of bother, time, or expense--may have meant to nineteenth-century individuals themselves, or how they used them to make sense of their lives. Nor have they examined such portraits as part of larger collections (i.e. individuals' albums and scrapbooks), which include amateur snapshots, images of mourning, postcards, and other genres of photography.

Aside from a select few scholars, cultural historians and specialists in the history of photography have tended to treat family photographs as a kind of trickery, wherein the family has concealed its complicated, less attractive qualities for the sake of the illusion of respectability. Certainly, British and French families attempted (for the most part) to put their best foot forward in front of the camera. However, for historians to suggest that families were in some way trying to fool their contemporaries (or themselves) into believing their relationships contained neither tension nor conflict is, I think, a naive assumption. The happiness and pride captured in photographs, whether genuine or posed, probably fooled very few of those invited to look upon them, least of all the family itself. The norm for most nineteenth century families was, after all, struggle, competition, and stress for each of the sexes, as well as grave childhood illnesses and death. We view our own posed portraits with a grain of salt (i.e., humor, irony, tongue-in-cheek, embarrassment, even horror), and I see no reason to think that families in the past were less capable than we are of separating illusion from reality.

Michael Hiley (a media studies scholar) has claimed that most photographs "taken during the Victoria and Edwardian periods were taken by commercial photographers and most of them are not worth a second glance." (12) The historian cannot so easily dismiss such objects, which give us so many clues about the past, and which were so valuable to their original owners. One has to duck underneath the tent flap of surface appearance. Conventional-looking portraits can document, or conceal, harrowing family fortunes. And while common carte-de-visite portraits may appear to us conventional or dull, their appearance in our eyes has little or nothing to do with what such images meant to their original owners. It is too easy to assert that family photographs "were and still are cherished for what they represent (i.e. loved ones and memorable times)." (13) But, we do not actually know what a photograph meant to its owner without further research. Family photographs, then as now, did not always stir joyful feelings of remembrance in surviving hearts. They could also refresh bitter memories of cruelty, jealousy, or even hatred in spouses or children who had been abused. Many ordinary-looking photographs contained difficult or painful associations for their owners. (14)

The Family Photograph Collection: Historical Origins

Chekhov was not the first person to observe a certain impenetrability about the family, and certainly he was not the last, especially where family photography is concerned. But when the historian locates, or let us say even creates, a rich archive of primary and secondary source materials, including previously ignored notes, scraps, local publications, and objects, then family secrets, or in any event family realities, begin to emerge from obscurity. In the case of working-class family photography, perhaps the most significant reality is that such collections existed at all. A formal sitting required surplus time, money, and energy, of which textile and mining laborers possessed very little, even after legislation during the latter part of the century created Saturday half-holidays and child labor restrictions in Britain. And yet, despite the fact that historians have dismissed as impossible photography's affordability among the laboring classes, such images from most every English and French province turn up in public and private collections [figures 1-2]. The deeper issue, then, is when, why, and how such families made the sacrifices to obtain their photographs.



Family photography may be called a byproduct of the so-called Second Industrial Revolution, a socio-economic transformation of life between 1860 and 1920. This phase of industrialization in the West, with its emphasis on new chemical industries and retail, provided the economic, technical, and social conditions for photography to thrive. Life in industrial regions like Lancashire or the Nord during this period are well-known: unsuitable housing and environmental conditions remained the plight of the laboring population, but increased working-class protest on the social as well as political level signaled imminent change. The period is also characterized by an advancing diversification of professional employment, which arose out of a growing educational system and tertiary commercial sector. The family photographs that survive from this period are artifacts belonging to families who managed to elude poverty or despair. The most desperate Irish (or in Northern France's case Belgian) immigrants who struggled for their daily bread during these years did not, obviously, fall into that category.

Photographs helped define the modern family and its members' roles by recording events and relationships over time. Just as importantly, photographs enabled individuals to assert their unique identities, and the panoply of their interests and loyalties within and outside the nuclear household. Photographs could also bring out a family or individual's sense of belonging, either within the neighborhood, town, or region in which people established their employment, network of friends, childhood roots, etc. Just as often, photographs could suggest a sensation of community for lives characterized more by movement and migration than long-term settlement. In the regions of northern France and England, couples could find themselves following employment opportunities from one town to another for the better part of their marriage. (15) A family album, therefore, embodied precious continuities, as well as important changes to the family. Photographs also enabled individuals to remember what they desired to remember about their family lives, whether those memories were secret truths or collective illusions.

In the 1880s, a tremendous expansion of photographic culture occurred because of a combination of forces: first, technological advances of the 1870s made the next generation of cameras easy and cheap enough for more urban residents to own and use themselves. During the last two decades of the century, rising wages, lower food costs, and the movement toward the modern weekend gave families more opportunity to discover the joys of photography. And thirdly, the entry of working-class children into new, compulsory primary schools, although not always welcomed by parents who were used to the extra income earned by their children, helped to frame childhood as a period of life full of special activities and achievements to be encouraged, praised, and recorded. Likewise, the establishment of new municipal high schools, universities, and office jobs caused the migration of youths from village to city to increase, a boon to the photographers who sold cartes-de-visite (i.e., small photographic portraits that came in sets), graduation pictures, group portraits, and postcards to send back to parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, and aunts.

In addition to studio portraits, there was also amateur photography, which after 1880 evolved from the hobby of the elite, to a global, popular pastime. The power of snapshot photography lay not in the quantity of pictures it produced during the period, but in the means it gave ordinary people to consider, judge, and promote the people in their lives. The photo album of the 1890s was a sort of Victorian Facebook, in the sense that dozens or even hundreds of portraits were preserved, displayed, and circulated among social and family networks. This new ability to "collect" friends was as empowering for the ordinary individual as it was for the artist or official utilizing photography as an investigative tool (I am thinking here of naturalists' scrapbooks or police detectives albums).

With an average wage of 2-3 francs per day or around [pounds sterling]1 per week, how was such a purchase possible for laborers? First, a family rarely depended on a single weekly wage, but profited from the monetary contributions of all its able-bodied members (whether or not the family reported such earnings to local officials). As John Benson and others have explained, many urban and industrial jobs could appear or disappear depending on the season and the state of the market. (16) Family members might add to the group income by selling sewn goods, produce from the vegetable garden, laundry, and, at times, through petty theft. There was also what we nowadays call "micro-finance" opportunities. The Manchester Benevolent Society, for example, was at one time willing to bestow small grants of up to [pounds sterling]20 for the purchase of a horse and cart, enabling the aspiring vendor or craftsman to distribute his goods. (17) One Lancashire textile worker, Joshua Bradley, sold wild berries from the peripheral woods for six pennies a quart during the 1830s. (18) The massive braderies of Lille (public flea markets) drew nineteenth and twentieth-century marketeers and bargain hunters alike to the city streets hoping to save or make some money. Extra income derived from any of those activities could elevate an individual or family from starving to survival, or more commonly, from survival to modest comfort.

There was also the possibility of finding bargain-basement prices with seasonal photographers or itinerants. Although itinerant photographers' low prices all-too-often matched the quality of their prints, they put the photographic portrait within reach of most working persons. There were several other ways that men and women of humble means could obtain photos. A relative who had gone into the photography business could provide his family and close friends with portraits. (19) A friend who came into possession of a second or third-hand camera might share his good fortune with others. A family could also save up the shilling or francs necessary to go to a modest neighborhood studio, especially for the important occasion of a birth, death, marriage, or professional advancement.

The various ways that workers found to obtain photo portraits cannot be exhausted here. A few examples are mentioned only to begin solving the "problem" of how these photographs of working-class families came about. We should also keep in mind that throughout our period a class of the very poor--beggars, homeless, urban nomads, and the miserably unemployed--in both Lille and Manchester recognized the camera only as an accessory of the social investigator or policeman. Individuals who fell into the "abyss" of dire poverty sometimes turned up in detectives' photograph albums, catalogues of confidence men, prostitutes, pickpockets, and killers, but. rarely a family album.


If a family owned just one portrait, it was often a wedding portrait of the husband and wife.

Beginning in the 1850s, European fiances and newly wedded couples began going together to photographic studios to get a picture to mark the occasion. Usually purchased in the form of a cabinet photo (from five to eight inches in height), this type of portrait sometimes provided a more intimate view of the couple than the large group picture produced at a wedding crowded with relatives. Wedding portraits of working-class couples began to emerge in the 1870s and became common by the 1890s. The turn-of-the-century portrait of Jane and Joseph Robinson [figure 3] provides a typical example of the affordable studio wedding portrait. Joseph and Jane were both cotton mill workers in Lancashire. Jane was the daughter of a mill "overlooker," or shop floor foreman. A studio photographer in Hollinwood (Lane), the suburban village where the couple went on to raise two daughters, took the portrait. Other photographs in this collection at the Great Manchester County Record Office display logos of photographers from Oldham, Failsworth, West Kirby, and Rhyl, illustrating the proliferation of studio photographers in the smallest working-class neighborhoods of the region after 1880.


Other photographs in the collection feature Jane with her five younger brothers and sisters; Jane's father Samuel Ashton and her mother Hannah; and a group portrait of Jane's maternal relatives (the Schofields), to name a few examples. One portrait from around 1900 features four generations of the family together at a Failsworth studio. Besides working at the local mills, the Schofields, Ashtons, and Robinsons found employment in agriculture, education (as teachers and a headmaster), and perhaps studio photography, too. (20) Friends pictured in the collection include a musician who played in a church orchestra and several cricket enthusiasts posing on the field. The Robinsons' collection records a life rooted in work with few luxuries, certainly, but also the pleasures of provincial family and social life.

There can be little doubt that such a collection fails to document the rough times that Joseph, Jane, and their families must have experienced over the years. Many of their lives were spent prior to the rise of social welfare measures, labor laws, higher education for women, or professional opportunities for women. Nevertheless, we should not assume that just because the family's photograph collection excludes pain or tragedy that they were in some way deliberately concealing "the truth." Their photographs, like ours, were acquired and treasured as objects of pleasure. Weathering the difficulties of family life and labor made such objects all the more layered in meaning and value.

Joseph and Jane's Methodist convictions, Jane's ceasing paid labor after marriage, and their modest family size demonstrated all the signs of membership among Manchester's "respectable working class." However, the photograph above does not, it seems to me, give evidence of any slavish emulation of the bourgeois man and wife, as certain Victorian and Edwardian authors ascribed to the ambitious working classes. (21) Cultural historians have asserted that the appearance and manners of the wealthier middle classes acted as a model for their social inferiors to emulate. And yet, the Robinsons' simple clothes (hand-made at home, according to archival notes), relaxed pose, and easy expressions give no evidence of such photographic behavior. Rather, the collection indicates independence and confidence in their own capacity for overcoming the struggles that challenged their happiness in Victorian/Edwardian Manchester. Such photographs are artifacts in the modern history of individualism, wherein the prerogative to obtain one's portrait had expanded since the Renaissance to include wealthy merchant families, professionals, and now small shopkeepers and industrial laborers. Family and friends appear unpretentious and unashamed of their lines of work, their hobbies and recreation, or standard of living.

Similar portraits appeared in the industrial city of Lille during the late-nineteenth century, as studios continued to proliferate in the city's expanding suburbs, including the poorest neighborhoods of Saint-Sauveur and Wazemmes. (22) As in Manchester, a single cabinet photograph could serve to commemorate a Lillois couple's union, as in figure 4. Even if the bride and groom borrowed their ceremonial clothing for the occasion, the photograph nevertheless marked the memory of the couples' first day as a new family. A wedded couple could have their albumen print mounted on cardboard (as was done by Alfred Cayez's Lille studio in this case), framed for display, or inserted into the family album.


Such portraits, Roland Barthes noted, served as a protection against the erosive effects of time on the memory, preserving important details that would otherwise be lost. (23) This particular Cayez studio portrait has no accompanying documentation to tell us a little more about the couple. We might contemplate which part of the image acts as the punctum, or heart-breaking detail. Perhaps it is the groom's severely short haircut, a sign of working-class practicality or a military career. Or the reach of the bride's arm, so that her hand may rest on his shoulder - a most reassuring set of shoulders. What strikes us about this portrait is the intense togetherness of the otherwise mysterious pair. Sometimes "clingy" body language conceals insecurity or doubt, rather than passion. Other than the fact that these two came into Monsieur Cayez' studio at some point, we know nothing about them. They could be murderous criminals for all we know -Therese Raquin and her lover (or her ill-fated husband). (24) But that scenario strikes me as unlikely. When we look closely, we see they are so young and unsure of themselves. It looks like this is the fist portrait they've posed for as adults, or perhaps ever.

Newlyweds' cabinet photos expressed their feelings of optimism, proudly displayed at home, and in the copies sent to relations outside the region. In the Nord as in other parts of France, the wedding day celebrated the conclusion of long negotiations. Most provincial unions were the product of parental matchmaking, conferences, and family decisions made for the sons and daughters in the community - a communal behavior more prevalent in France than Britain during this period. (25) A wedding portrait in the Nord therefore held a rich layering of meaning for the parental families, friends, and witnesses in the community, in addition to the subjects themselves. Each bride and groom's brave expressions, their youthful affection, and nervousness filled the portraits with a pleasant aura of anticipation. Both of the working-class couples depicted here may have been the first in their families to record their wedding day with a photograph, beginning a tradition of commemoration: the pinnacle of their youth, clearly documented for future generations of the family to ponder and admire, long after husband and wife had grown old and disappeared from the earth.

Photography's ability to fix moments in time (even as the human memory loses the details of such events) enabled "ordinary" families to construct the kind of legendary narratives once reserved for nobles. Of course, working-class courtship, marriage, and households would never attain the celebrity or luxuriousness of upper-class equivalents. Nevertheless, the ordinary family's new sense of its own intrinsic importance, nourished by rising levels of education, social mobility, and domestic leisure, altered the history of private life across class lines. By representing families, photography "transformed what was traditional" - that is, family history or lore - "and unified what was diverse." (26) Henceforth, the wedding portrait would be a required ritual from the heights of northern wealth to the most obscure unions. In a period when divorce remained rare--actually unobtainable in the Third Republic until 1884, and remaining taboo into the twentieth century--the wedding photo became the frontispiece of a family's own autobiography, literally for better or worse.


The family's pictorial chronicle often expanded rapidly once children became part of the household. Clara Mavor has pointed out that the photographic medium "was invented hand-in-hand with our modern conception of childhood," with all its customary sentiments, rituals, and accoutrements. (27) The popularity of child photography since the 1860s arose from a broader socio-political and cultural movement in Western Europe, during which childhood became a special world (ideally) separate from that of adult work and responsibility. (28) Newborns, young scholars, Sunday school classes, and maturing adolescents became the subject of both studio portraits and amateur snapshots [figure 5]. Aside from the portraits that came from ceremonial moments like a Christian confirmation or school graduation, boys in Manchester paid the photographer a visit when they had obtained or finished an apprenticeship. Whereas children of the elite and the working classes both obtained formal portraits, only working-class boys used photography to chronicle their training or advancing skills.


In one late nineteenth century carte-de-visite, a Manchester boy has become a skilled ironworker, visibly proud of his early professional progress. (29) In another photo of the era, a new sailor from one of the industrial training ships of the port of Manchester, just a lad, has obtained his own portrait, in which he wears his uniform. (10) Although braced by a strict regime of rules and duties, the sea proved a popular lure for boys of the region long before and after the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1896. Youths' portraits like these were as important to the family who received copies of them as they were to the subjects. The new family photography of the 80s, 90s, and early twentieth century ushered in a new ritual for parents who compared their children's and grandchildren's achievements with those of their neighbors - a ritual that remains with us today.

For the historian, candid photographs can be even more revealing than formal portraits. After 1880, husbands, wives, and parents began experimenting with photography at home. Sometimes the family photographer attempted to imitate studio, or even painterly, conventions, but often he or she went after candid moments. Sometimes, the family photographer who intended to take a formal photograph was thwarted by uncontrolled circumstances. In the photograph above [figure 6], a well-dressed young girl is bent over with laughter as her sister completes a cartoon on the wall, while the little brother looks on admiringly. "Portrait de papa" serves as the title of her drawing and the photograph itself, which was taken by the children's father. The chalk figure's exploding hair, long nose, and ball-like body mock, albeit lovingly, the father behind the camera. With all three children turned away from his lens, Papa takes the portrait anyway, revealing a healthy sense of humor.


Clean but modest clothes, neatness, and evidence of school attendance (or a governess) testify to this Nord family's structured discipline. At the same time, the provincial children's free hilarity at Papa's expense hints at a tolerant household where each young person was given freedom to express his or herself. Certainly not the type of household where children "should be seen and not heard." Furthermore, such an image contradicts the common view of the northern French family, wherein the bread-winning father was perennially absent and uninvolved with the children. (31) The photograph provides a counterpoint to the formal portraits that the family most probably also possessed, in which facial expressions would have been more serious and the father would have stood sternly above his wife (if she was alive) and children.

The children in such candid photos were lucky boys and girls, but the demographic and economic data of the period reminds us that family life remained fraught with anxiety and loss. Cycles of commercial depression, bankruptcy, and maternal and infant mortality stalked even well to do households. Perhaps the hardest reality to bear for all types of families was the frequency with which death ended the lives of loved ones. Physicians, social investigators, and municipal commissions in Manchester and Lille demonstrated that both towns contained the highest mortality rates in England and France throughout the period, owing to infantile diseases, overcrowded living conditions, malnutrition, and the unhealthy conditions of the mills. (32) Family photographs can thus serve as testimonies of survival or loss.

Death and Mourning

Photography arrived at a period in urban history when the ritual of mourning had reaching its apogee. (33) Beginning as early as the 1840s, British and French provincials used photographs as memento mori. Some portraits gained the status of religious icons in the family home, as part of the process of mourning, remembering, and worshipping the dead. Photographing the dead never became as universal a ritual as the wedding portrait, but the practice did develop amongst all the classes. Elizabeth Barrett Browning summarized the seduction of the fixed mirror image by confessing she "would rather have [such] a memorial of one I dearly loved than the noblest artist's work ever produced." (34) Whether a picture featured a dead subject or a living subject who subsequently had passed away, the photograph became an emotionally charged object for fellow members of the family, including young children who might otherwise have forgotten how their mother, father, sister, or brother had looked. (35)

A formal family portrait can look deceptively ordinary [figure 7]. The first things we notice about the Smith-Williams portrait are the family members' clothing, expressions, and physical positions - adding up to a conventional portrait of a respectable, petit bourgeois family group. However, an explanatory letter in the Manchester County Record Office archive, written by the son of the little girl on the left, leads our interpretation past the outward signs of the family's appearance, to what the photograph may have meant to the pictured individuals. When approached by the historian as part of a larger dossier of letters, local history, and genealogical data, the solitary photograph can emerge as a micro-history of turn-of-the-century Lancashire.


The elderly couple in the photo was the donor's great-grandparents, John and Eliza Williams, originally from Oaken Gates near Shropshire. From approximately 1860, John worked as a foreman at a "Council yard" (i.e., day labor depot) in Stretford, a suburb of Manchester. Shortly after this picture was taken, the donor reported, John Williams died from tetanus, which he contracted when he cut his hand on the job. His wife Eliza (seated left) died a year later in 1913. From that date, John, Eliza, their daughter Rosamond (not pictured), and a small grandchild lay together in the grave.

The donor's grandmother, Sarah Smith (nee Williams), stands in the center of the photo. Her husband Hanson Smith had died a year before the picture was taken (the donor did not mention how). Although hardly noticeable, the sashes worn by Sarah's two daughters below are black, and signified their mourning for their father. Sarah's son Albert, the nine-month-old baby in the photo, also died shortly after the photo was taken.

Lucy Ann, the elder daughter on the left, would go on to marry a Stretford man and have eight children. (36) Three of her children (sisters of the donor) would die within a few months of birth in the 1920s. (37) A simple family portrait, then, reveals itself as a reminder of loss in the family's past, an indicator of the loss in their present, and a foreshadowing of loss and yet more sorrow in the future. We are reminded that on the eve of war, England's northerners still suffered from the continual death of siblings, spouses, and parents, which had characterized family life throughout the nineteenth century. Already mourning for her husband, Sarah Smith would soon face the death of her parents, who presumably were to aid her in raising the two girls, and her baby son as well. For the two daughters, deprived of father, grandfather, and brother, the photo captured the end of an era, the end of their childhood.

Family photographs do not always come with such detailed documentation. The example of the Smith-Williams portrait demonstrates that, for the original owners of a photograph, the conventional, surface image so easily dismissed by present-day critics often had little to do with the photograph's meaning within the family. A greater sensitivity to images' variety of functions should dispel the temptation to categorize them as mere projections of middle-class respectability.

In the northern provinces as in the rest of Western Europe and America, photographs have always been valued for their dimension resurrectionelle, or ability to keep the memory of departed ones alive. (38) Photographs of dead family members could serve as pictorial "markers" for the absent person (especially in the case of children), until he or she could, Victorian parents hoped, unite with the family in heaven. (39) Sometimes infants and the elderly were laid out before the camera just before or during their funerals. Or, the provincial photographer might pay a visit to the invalid at home, or the grieving family after the death, especially if the family had formed a relationship with the operator over the years. If the household possessed a camera, a family member might photograph him or herself holding a pre-existing portrait of the departed loved one (for example, a drawing, painting, silhouette, or miniature) to send to relatives. There also have survived photographic "tributes" to schoolmistresses, local clergy, and other long-suffering members of the community who passed away, which incorporate their photographic portraits. Forerunners of the obituary portrait one sees today in the newspaper, such images served as rich symbols of an individual's career of service in the region, and as miniature monuments within the family album.

Regardless of whether photographs stimulated feelings of hope, sadness, or bitterness, they could provide individuals with what Esther Shor has termed a "moral currency." In other words, the display and circulation of funeral photographs became another way of demonstrating the proper etiquette of mourning so central to the trans-national Victorian cult of the dead [figure 8]. (40) Having moral currency meant providing proof of having performed the social duty of mourning, which remained quite separate from one's personal feelings for the deceased. The black crepe, sober expressions, and solitude that appeared in mourning-related photographs signaled an individual's respect for the social compact that bound the provincial community together (particularly for women). In a world where death continually intruded on people's lives, visible mourning had become a way to manage constant personal loss in a community.


Some of the most poignant mourning images came from the hands of amateur photographers. A certain W. Hindshaw of Manchester, for example, contributed an article to a mutual improvement society magazine entitled, "Fumbling of an Embryo Photographer" in 1858. (41) The article begins as a comical account of the author's trial-and-error approach to mastering the still- novel art of photography, offering several illustrations of his photographic blunders along the way. Towards the end, we can see Hindshaw's technique improving. The final illustration in the album, a portrait of a little boy, shows technical mastery. In the caption below the image we learn that the boy, perhaps the author's child, died before the album was completed. "In the light of death, Photography becomes intensely interesting," Hindshaw reflected, since "a likeness is all that we can rescue from the grave." (42) This early amateur's account reveals photography's bittersweet role in an advanced, urban society, which had yet to conquer the ever-present dangers of industrial and street accidents, as well as childhood diseases and death.

Individual Memories and Self-Expression

Besides demonstrating photography's use among couples, parents, and children, the family album can also reveal how men and women constructed their personal history, as agents in the world separate from strict household roles. Photographs could often capture aspects of an individual that are entirely missing from their professional papers, including their pre-marital adventures and ambitions, long-forgotten journeys and lodgings, physical appearance, or sense of style. Here the photographic evidence is particularly suggestive of women's individual identities, since the paucity of public record on most women's lives may be made up for in part with the richness of their domestic artifacts, collections, diaries, and photograph albums.

One group of photographs in the Archives du Nord, for example, chronicles the daily life of a young woman from Douai (twenty-five miles south of Lille) and her family, the Bertons, at the turn of the century [figures 9-11]. Working-class family members and friends were surprisingly at ease being captured by the amateur photographer in the family, who caught the tongue-in-cheek or just plain silly whims, which the professional photographer deliberately effaced in the studio. At the same time, many domestic photographers enjoyed playing with or subverting the conventions of the studio/art photographer.




We see domestic camera "play" in the series of images within collections. In figure 9, Madam Berton appears inconspicuously modest among a small family group - a proficient group portrait. But in another scene [figure 10], her solitary presence, bohemian, defiant, lords over the scene with the flashing of a giant Chinese fan. In another snapshot, she emerges from a darkened window for the photographer, although her eyes wander mysteriously above the camera's lens. Madame Berton's candid portraits were in no way exceptional among the family photography one finds preserved in the Nord. On the contrary, images that survive from the region feature family women in a variety of gregarious, playful, and informal scenes: attending meetings at women's clubs, window-shopping in the High Street, interacting with animals, and even participating as musicians in working-class bands. (43)

Observing Madam Berton's snapshots, we may wonder who she was - not just in the sense of whose daughter she was, or what profession her husband belonged to, but how would she have described herself? Martine Segalen, followed by Bonnie Smith, has argued that the bourgeoises of the Nord restricted their sociability and influence to the Church, where, as parishioners they presided over a cult of Marion emulation. (44) That assessment may have been true for a tiny class of idle ladies. But, to some extent, it may also be that historians have taken the era's prescriptive literature, domestic novels, and male-dominated Christian and "advice" press at face value. For, although professional life remained closed to women of the Third Republic, their influence spread well beyond the home and the Church. Republican Lille contained several women's organizations and civic groups, and some women sent their children to socialist elementary schools in the 1880s and 90s. Other women joined groups dedicated to producing and promoting local art and architecture, literature and journalism, musical ensembles, community vegetable gardening, and friendly societies. (45) The estaminets (or cafe-bars) of the Nord, which catered to working-class men, women, children, and families, had been centers of mixed-gender sociability, activism, and entertainment throughout the nineteenth century. (46) Working-class and petit bourgeois women also dominated the seasonal braderies, (community bazaars) of Lille, which drew crowds from all over northern France. Married and single women cultivated female friendships, matched young men with young women, attended and participated in the local civil ceremonies, performances, and grand openings that occurred in town throughout the year. Avid readers, conversationalists, and gossips, provincial women were not passive spectators but active participants in local and public culture, whether conservative or radical, Catholic or secular, elite or popular. Cheaper and less ritualistic than formal studio portraiture, domestic or amateur photography allowed women to relax and experiment with self-presentation.

Family photographs also complicate the scholarly dichotomy between "public" and "private," both in the sense of female behavior, and in the subjects they include. For example, employment-related photographs, which a family member (male or female) obtained at work, often turn up in family albums of the era. Photographs of mill workers, shop assistants, domestic servants, teaching staff, and restaurant employees are common among the photographic collections in Lille and Manchester. Originally intended for the employer's records or an industrial exhibition, such photographs could be used by employees for their own family album, as in the case of mining gangs, army units, restaurant workers, and servants. Itinerant photographers could also produce images of co-workers. The inclusion of colleagues in the family album suggests that the camaraderie enjoyed at work (particularly although not exclusively among the same gender) was not replaced or erased by domestic life, but remained an important part of individual men and women's identities.

Photographs of laborers often displayed a palpable sentiment of pride, despite difficult or humble conditions. Working-class families in Manchester and Lille did not depict themselves as downtrodden. On the contrary, family photography was about recording individual skill, friendships, and growth. The amateur photographer might fill the family album with pictures taken on the job [figure 12], in this case a horse groomer in the French Army, who mixed on-the-job photos with photos of family excursions in his album. The collections of working-class and petit bourgeois families often contain a potpourri of work-related, formal studio, candid, and miscellaneous events. All of those ingredients went into an individual or a family's history. And although the wedding portrait or formal family portrait might be the most prized image in the collection, below that there is no clear hierarchy of importance.


Sometimes individuals used their personal carte-de-visite portraits as tokens of friendship and admiration. One collection in Lille has particular interest: that of the local songwriter and working-class poet Alexandre Desrousseaux (1820 -1892), who accumulated a collection of friends' and colleagues' cartes-de-visite over the course of his professional life.

Desrousseaux began his career as a weaver's apprentice, and later became a military musician in the 46th Regiment at Caen. There he began privately writing songs in the patois of the Nord. (47) Returning to Lille in the 1840s, he worked as a petty official, and published several successful books of songs. Desrousseaux's witty lyrics, which sympathized with the laboring classes of the Nord, won him popular success. At the same time, his lack of political radicalism gained him the enthusiastic acceptance of the Lillois bourgeoisie. Much of the poet's work provides detailed descriptions of Lillois idioms and slang (the dialect called le ch'ti), eating, drinking, and festive culture in the Nord during the mid-to-late-nineteenth century. The songwriter's most famous work, the lullaby entitled "Le P'tit Quinquin," tells of a poor cotton weaver singing her baby to sleep. Desrousseaux himself remained a resident of Saint-Sauveur, central Lille's poorest district, throughout his life.

Many of the cartes-de-visite in Desrousseaux's collection feature hand-written messages on them from friends and admirers. From nearby Valenciennes, a dark man who signed his portrait as "Vernus" wrote: "To my friend A. Desrousseaux, a token of my friendship, 7 May 1878" [figure 13-14]. (48) A small cabinet photo from a Lille studio depicts Alphonse Capon, a music professor at the local Music Conservatory, who signed his portrait, * Au chansonnier Desrousseaux, affectuaux souvenir." (49) In 1888, a certain T. Tranchant sent the aging poet a portrait with a similar autograph: "A mon tres sympathique confrere, souvenir affectuaux."(50) Yet another carte-de-visite, depicting a certain Desire Courtecuisse of the "Comique des Bouffes Parisiens" might have been a token of friendship, or perhaps a fashionable actor who Desrousseaux himself admired. It seemed that Desrousseaux not only attracted fans, but was a fan himself of the performers of the day.


The poet's collection of these miniature portraits chronicled his history by the friendships and encounters he enjoyed while traveling as a soldier, during reading tours, and musical concerts. The images and their autographs point to the motley array of individuals to have entered Desrousseaux's circle within and beyond Lille's borders. The mundane conventionality of such cheap portraits never undermined their purpose, which was to reawaken memories otherwise overwhelmed by the constant flow of professional activity, civic involvement, and family responsibility over the years (he had seven children with his wife Marie-Augustine). Although Desrousseaux was an extraordinary Lillois, his collection of portrait souvenirs represented a typical usage of the popular pocket-sized photos: as messages of friendship, admiration, and alliance for the individual's collection.


The existence of working-class family photography indicates that men and women enjoyed expressing a sense of self-worth and achievement with photography, no matter their profession. Certain circumstances made it much more likely for a person or a family to accumulate photographs over the years. Those necessities included decent housing, some professional mobility, and a degree of liberty in regards to choice of leisure and spirituality. There we have the basic necessities of the "respectable" working classes. But in Lancashire and the Nord, "respectability" came not from keeping up appearances in the photographer's studio, but from the strength, personalities, and toil of the men and women who brought up each successive generation.

"In a world that moves so quickly, and so confusingly, and so rarely leaves traces," one Baltimore journalist recently observed, ancestral photographs give "evidence that connects us to something else. We are not alone ... We have come from something." (51) The sentiment was as true, if not more so, for those provincial men, women, and children who's environments, employments, and daily lives remained in an insecure state of flux at the end of the nineteenth century. By crafting its own visual autobiography, a family (whether of a monarch or of a provincial weaver) constructed a sense of agency in time and over the course of the history it lived through. Most remarkably, the new community of memory that came with family photography emerged as forcefully in the suburbs of Lancashire and the Nord as it did in the salons of London or Paris, or the great country estates. Ultimately, the ordinary family's half-conscious notion of being part of history turned out, as social historians have shown us, to be correct.

Critics from Walter Benjamin to Susan Sontag to John Taylor have pointed out that the meaning of a photograph depends upon the caption given to it by the person using the image. (52) In other words, photographic meaning is always unstable, ever shifting as its physical and ideological placement changes. When a photograph comes down to us with no original caption or explanation, we tend to create one that suits our theoretical or ideological agenda, which may be blind to the object's earlier meaning to those who created or commissioned it. Critics, archeologists, and historians have always made use of evidence in that way. But, we may at least acknowledge that we are putting images to use, rather than claiming to have determined their "true" meaning. Fortunately, as we have seen above, there are photograph collections out there that do offer labels, annotations, accompanying letters, timelines, family trees, living descendents, professional records, or other pieces of information that can help us to approach what an image signified to its original owners. And that original signification is just as important as contemporary meaning if we are to practice history.

Photography's ability to turn valuable, albeit fleeting, moments of family life into permanent documents made it a transformative force in the domain of family history and memory. Between 1880 and 1914, the urban provinces' expanded transportation services, educational resources, diversifying employment opportunities, and shorter work days gave working-class residents the chance to take stock of their lives in new ways. Ordinary men and women now had the means to consider the road stretching back to childhood and forward to old age, their place in the community, and how they wished to be remembered. Photography's new mass availability during those years made the medium the instrument of a modern, democratized family consciousness.

Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies

Baltimore, MD 21201-5779


(1.) Anton Chekhov, "Difficult People," in Richard Ford, ed., The Essential Tales of Chekhov, trans. by Constance Garnett (Hopewell, NJ, 1998), 26.

(2.) See Beaumont Newhall, The History of Photography: from 1839 to the present (New York, 1982), esp. ch. 5; Elizabeth Anne McCauley, Industrial Madness: Commercial Photography in Paris, 1848-1871 (New Haven, 1994), Steve Edwards, The Making of English Photography: Allegories (University Park, PA, 2006), Elizabeth Heyett, The Glass-House Years: Victorian Portrait Photography 1839-1870 (London, 1979), Frances Dimand and Roger Taylor, Crown and Camera; The. Royal Family and Photography, 1842-1910 (Harmondsworth, U.K., 1987), and Carol Mavor, Becoming: The Photographs of Clementina Viscountess Hawarden (Durham, 1999).

(3.) Jo Spence and Patricia Holland, eds., Family Snaps: The Meaning of Domestic Photography (London, 1991), Gisele Freund, Photographie et societe (Paris, 1974), and John Tagg, The Burden of Representation: Essays or. Photographies and Histories (Minneapolis, 1993).

(4.) See for example a discussion of Thomas Barnardo's photographs of children in Seth Koven, "Dr. Barnardo's 'Artistic Fictions': Photography, Sexuality, and the Ragged Child in Victorian London," Radical History Review, vol. 69, no. 6 (1997): 6-45.

(5.) Edwards, 75. An important exception in the literature is Julia 1 Hirsch, Family Photographs: Content, Meaning, and Effect (New York, 1981).

(6.) Pierre Bourdieu, Photography. A Middle-Brow Art, trans, by Shaun Whiteside (Stanford, 1990), 113 and 172.

(7.) Jean Sagne, L'atelier du photographe. (Paris, 1984), 70.

(8.) See Elizabeth A. McCauley, Industrial Madness: Commercial Photography in Paris, 1848-1871 (New Haven, 1994), and Marianne Hirsch, ed., The Familial Gaze (Dartmouth, 1999). The latter is an ex-hibition catalogue.

(9.) Elizabeth A. McCauley, A. A., Disderi and the Carte de Visits Portrait Photograph (New Haven, 1985), 1.

(10) Andre Rouille has analyzed working-class portraits briefly in "Les images photographiques du monde du travail sous le Second Empire," Acts de la recherche en sciences sociales, no. 54 (sept. 1984), n.p., and Geoffrey Crossick, "Before the shutters fall: shop-keepers and photography in Britain and France in the early twentieth century," unpublished paper, North American Conference on British Studies, Toronto, Canada 2002. See also Anne McClintock's discussion of Arthur Munby's Victorian portraits in "'Massa' and Maids: Power and Desire in the Imperial Metropolis," ch. 2 in Imperial Leather: Race. Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (London, 1995) and Griselda Pollock's discussion of nineteenth century photographs of female miners in "Feminism/Foucault -Surveillance/Sexuality," in Norman Bryson et al, eds., Visual Culture: Images and Interpretation (Hanover, NH, 1994): 143.

(11.) Jo Spence and Patricia Holland, 4.

(12,) Michael Hiley, Seeing Through Photographs (London, 1983), 17.

(13.) Luc Pauwels, "A private visual practice going public:' Social functions and sociological research opportunities of Web-based family photography" in Visual Studies, vol. 23, no. 1,35. Pauwels was discussing ''analogue" (that is, paper as opposed to digital) photography.

(14.) Film studies professor Annette Kuhn has explored the pain and strife behind family photography in Family Secrets: Acts of Memory and Imagination (London, 1995). See also Michael. Lesy, Time Frames: The Meaning of Family Pictures (New York, 1980).

(15.) When employment remained elusive, couples and widowed folk might also retreat to the homes of relatives in other towns. On the subject of regional migration see Leslie Page Much, "Infirmities of the Body and Vices of the Soul: Migrants, Family, and Urban Life in Tum-of-the-Century France" in David Levine et al, eds., Essays on the Family and Historical Change (College Station, 1983). In the English context see Dennis Marsden, Mothers Alone: Poverty and the Fatherless Family (Harmondsworth, U.K., 197.3) and Michael Anderson, Family Structure in Nineteenth Century Lancashire (Cambridge., 1971 ).

(16). John Benson, The Penny Capitalists: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Working-Class Entrepreneurs (Dublin, 1983). Sec also Louise Tilly and Joan W. Scott, Women, Work, and family (New York, 1987). esp. 61-104.

(17.) John Benson, Tile Penny' Capitalists, 101.

(18.) James Bradley, Reminiscences m the Life of Joshua Bradley - donor of Hyde Town Hall clock oral bells. From little piecer to manager (Lancashire, 1974, orig. 1902), 29. Although the pedantic tone of this biography (mitten, it appears, by a descendant of the subject) makes it historically suspect, Bradley's recounting of the relevant prices and wages is precise and instructive. Moreover, the author's description of light, part-time agricultural work available on the outskirts of Manchester conforms to the historical record.

(19.) There were several studio task, beyond the main operator or proprietor. Wage-paying jobs included studio assistants and unofficial apprentices, plate manufacturing, mounting, coloring and retouching, and (when the photographer was working abroad) guides.

(20.) Several of the photographs in the collection were taken by F. Kenworthy (of Oldham), who was probably related to Jane's second husband, Samuel Kenworthy, a horse keeper.

(21.). Some examples in the satirical fiction of the period include the character of Uncle Andrew in George Gissing's Born In Exile (London, 1892) Becky Sharp in William M. Thackeray's Vanity Fair (London, 1848), Anna Coupeau in Emile Zola's Nana (Paris, 1880), and the Poorer family in George Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody (London, 1892).

(22.) Manuela Corral, "La Photographic a Lille an XIX' siecle," Memoire de maitrise (Paris X, 1991), 34, and Job Ducastel, "Les Photographes a Lille 1819-1914, ou 1'histoire de 1210 photographies," in the Bibliotheque Municipale de Lille (Lille, n.d.).

(23.) Pierre Bourdieu, Photography: A Middle-Broil' Art, trans, by Shaun Whiteside (Stanford, 1990), 14. See also Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida.- Reflections on Photography, trans. by Richard Howard (New York, 1982).

(24.) From the crime novella by Emile Zola, Therese Raquin (serialized in 1867), which portrays a doomed plot by the title character and her lover Laurent to kill her husband. The couple succeeds but they are haunted by the figure of the dead man until they go insane and commit suicide together.

(25.) Louise A. Tilly, "Rich and Poor in a French Textile City" in David Levine ct al, eds.. Essays on the Family and Historical Change, 76.

(26.) G. H. Martin and David Francis, "The Camera's Eye," H.J. Dyos and Michael Wolff. The Victorian City: Images and Realities, vol. 1 (Boston, 1973), 230.

(27.) Clara Mavor. Pleasures Taken: Performances of .Sexually and Loss:in Victorian Photographs (Durham, 1995), 3.

(28.) The early modern roots of this movement are traced in Philippe Aries, L'Enfant et la vie familiale sous l'Ancien Regime (Paris, 1960) and Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500 1800 (London, 1977). A thematic treatment of childhood is given in Hugh Cunningham, Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 (New York, 1995), while Pamela Horn has used images and statistics to trace the fate of urban children in The Victorian Town Child (U.K., 1997). Sec also James Walvin, A Child's World: A .Social History of English Childhood 1800-1914 (London, 1982) and Alain Corbin et al, L'Histoire de la vie pride, I. 4 (Paris, 1987), 146-167, 21 3-224.

(29.) Charles E. P. Russell, Manchester Boys: Sketches of Manchester Lads at Work and Play (Manchester, 1905), 1.

(30.) Russell, 9, 11.

(31.) On family life in Lille during the nineteenth century, see Bonnie Smith, Ladies of the Leisure Class (Princeton, 1981).

(32.) The investigation into infant diseases and mortality in Manchester and Lille went hack to the 1840s and 50s with the work of Edwin Child wick, Friedrich Engels, and Louis Pasteur, among others. Unfortunately, the problem continued into the twentieth century, when aggressive vaccination campaigns began to combat the trend.

(33.) On mourning and the "cult of the dead" in the nineteenth century, see Philippe Aries, L'Homme Devant La Mart (Paris, 1977), Michael Wheeler, Heaven, Hell, and the Victorians (Cambridge, 1994), and Thomas A. Kselman, Death and the Afterlife in Modern France (Princeton, 1993). On artistic and literary representations of mourning during the period, see Sarah Webster Goodwin and Elisabeth Bronfen, eds., Death and Representation (Baltimore, 1993) and Laurence Lerner, Angels and Absences: Child Deaths in the Nineteenth Century (Nashville, 1997).

(34.) Quoted in Aaron Scharf, Art and Photography (New York, 1974), 331.

(35.) Occasionally one finds scenes involving mourning photography in literature. The opening of William Somerset Maugham's autobiographical Of Human Bondage (1915) describes a nine-year-old boy's receiving portraits of his departed mother. Nigel Kneale explored the psychology of a dying child brought, to the photographer in his short story, "The Photograph."

(36.) The younger daughter on the right, Marion, never married.

(37.) One of her children, Roy, was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1962, and another son, George, died in 1963.

(38.) Claire Chevalier, "A propos d'une photo de famille" in Ethnographic, t. 92, no. 120 (1996), 85.

(39.) On the role of heaven in nineteenth-century rituals of death and dying, see Laurence Lerner, Angels and Absences: Child Deaths in the Nineteenth Century (Nashville, 1997), 14-28, and Thomas A. Kselman, Death and the Afterlife in Modern France (Princeton, 1993), 86-88. On the evolution of Victorian doubt concerning the existence of an afterlife, see Michael Wheeler, Heaven: Hell, and the Victorians (Cambridge, 1990).

(40.) Esther Shor has discussed the importance: of the .symbols of mourning for demonstrating respectability in Bearing the Dead: The British Culture of Mourning From the Enlightenment. to Victoria (Princeton, 1994), esp. 2.30-2.35. Victorian novelist George Gissing wrote a detailed description of a working-class family's funeral procession and wake (including mourning costume, casket, family photographs on display,' and local gossip) in The Nether World (London, 1889), ch. 5.

(41.) Manchester Central Reference Library, M 38/4/2/5. The staff of the Manchester Central Reference Library has forbidden the reproduction of any part of this delicate piece.

(42.) M.38/4/2/5: W. Hindshaw, "Fumbling of an Embryo Photographer," 57.

(43.) Dina Copelman has written more extensively on the more relaxed (i.e., diverse) gender roles and behaviors among the petite bourgeoisie, as opposed to the wealthier middle-class families of England in which the women did not work. See her London's Women Teachers: Gender, Class, and Feminism 1870-1930 (New York, 1996). On provincial English women's public activities, see Simon Morgan, A Victorian Woman's Place: Public Culture, in the Nineteenth Century (London, 2007). See also Leah Bendavid-Val, Song. Without Words: The Photographs and Diaries of Countess Sophia Tolstoy (Washington, D.C., 2007), a revealing look at the amateur photography of the novelist's wife.

(44.) Martine. Segalen, "Pouvoirs et saviors feminins au XIXe siecle,' Revue du Nord. Numero Special. Histoire des Femmes du Nord, tome LLXIII, no. 250 (July-September 1981).

(45.) For the variety of Lilloises' experience, .see Beatrice Craig, "Salaires, niveaux de vie et travail feminin, dans l'arrondisement de Lille an XIX' siecle," Canadian Journal of History, vol. 33, no. 2 (August 1998): 215-248, and Marie-Josee Levieuge-Letienne, "Les congregations feminines dans la region Nord-Pas-de-Calais au XIX' siecle," memoire de maitrise (Universite de Lille III, 1976). For a broader discussion of the activities and roles of women in nineteenth century France see Michelle Perrot, ed., A History of Private Life, vol. 4: From the Fires of the Revolution to the Great War (Cambridge, 1990), especially chapters 1-3. And Mary Louise Roberts, Disruptive Acts: The New Woman in Fin de Siecle France (Chicago, 2002).

(46.) On working-class cafe culture and clubs in the Nord, see Elisabeth Gustafiak, "Les Cabarets et les Societies Populaires a Roubaix de 1850-1900," memoire de maitrise (Universite de Lille III, 1991), and P. Demailly, "La sociabilite dans le quartier Saint-Sauveur de Lille entre 1880 et 1914. Les cabarets, les societes populaires, les chansons en patois," memoire de maitrise (Universite de Lille III, 1989-1990). On the working-class communal gardens of Lille, see Vincent Simon, "L'Histoire des Jardins Ouvriers. L'Abbe Jules Lemire (1853-1928)", memoire de maitrise (Universite de Lille III, 1992-93).

(47.) Biographical information collected from the Dictionnaire de Biographie Francaise, tome 11 (Paris, 1967), 59, and Hippolyte Verly, Essai de biographie. Lilloise (Lille, 1869), 70-72.

(48.) Archives Departementales du Nord (Lille), 12Fi (340). An archivist has written "fondeur" on the back of the photo, which translates as long-distance skier.

(49.) ADN, 12 Fi (362), Desrousseaux had himself spent some time at the Conservatory in Lille during his youth.

(50.) ADN, 12Fi, (339).

(51.) Michael Olesker, "Family Histories Help Us Rediscover Ourselves," The Baltimore Sun (19 Jan, 2003), 17B.

(52.) Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York, 1978), 107, and John Taylor, Body Horror: Photojournalism, Catastrophe and War (New York, 1998), 38.

By Nicole Hudgins

University of Baltimore
the dominant values of the bourgeoisie; it
puts in place a system of signs, which translate
into the image of a class. ... The conformity to
the model, the constraint imposed on the individual
to bend to [certain] rules can but translate into
a voluntary assimilation, a recognition of a social code. (7)
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