First Communion continued to be an important event for Belgian children in the 1950s. We have some limited information about Belgian First Communions during the 1950s. We have found one 1950s portrait, but unsure about the nationality. Many readers believe that it may be European, possibly Belgian. We are not sure. We note boys wearing standard suits in the 1950s, mostly short pants suits for their First Communions. These do not seem to be special First Communion suits. They are mostly dark suits. We have not yet found white suits althoufgh we still have relatively few 1950s images archived. We also see boys still wearing traditional sailor suits. We are not sure yet how common this was. "
This Antwerp boy wears a traditional sailor suit for his First Communiin portrait in 1951 (figure 1). There is printed text on the back about this boy's First Holy Communion. The portrait was to be given to be given to relatives and friends. His name was Hugo Cosemans. He looks to be about 7 years old. Notice he is wearing a button-on suit.
This is a Belgian boy, Jean-Claude Williame, on his First Communion (Communion solennelle) at Costermansville in the Belgian Congo during 1952. He is dressed a little more informally than might be the case in Belgium at the time. He wears a white shirt and shorts rather than a suit and white ankle socks. He is photogrphed with his mother and little sister.
We have found one 1950s portrait, but unsure about the nationality. Many readers believe that it may be European, possibly Belgian. We are not sure. We at first thought he was American, but such short, short pants suits wre not very common in America.
There were major differences in the Congo during the 20th century. Our photographic archive is still quite limited. Thus we can not yet chronicle those differences in any substantial way. Of course the major difference was the transition from Belgian colony to independent state. We have found some images from the colonial era. Belgian colonists apparently brought albums and collections of photograhs back home when they left the Congo (1960). Thus we have a record of their experiences there. It seems to have been a life lived largely separate fron the native Congolese people, exept as servants or employees. A good example is a First Communion which we think was a Stanleyville ceremony just before independence (1958-59). Most Belgians were Catholic. We have their names, most seem to be Belgian. We have found twp photographs. One is dated May 7, 1959, the year before independence (figure 1). The boys are variously dressed. We see darl and medium colored, but no white suits. The white suits. The boys in white wear white shirts and shorts. We don't see any sailor suits. Most of the boys wear white ankle socks, but two have white knee siocks. Most of the boys wear shoes, but one boy wears sandals. We are not sure about the second photograph, but one source suggests 1958. The boys in this photogrph, perhaps 1958 are dressed quite a bit differently. More boys are wearing long pants. One boy wears a short pants sailor suit. e don't see any Congolese boys. We are not sure about that, but it could not have been much later. Belgium granted the Congo independence in 1960 and most Belgian nationals and other Europeans left at that time. There was a substantial difference in how the boys were dressed in the two photographs.
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