* American boys first communion suits : 1910s

Individual American First Communion Suits (1910s)

Figure 1.--.

We see very large numbers of formal First Communion portraits in the 1910s. This surely is a reflection of Catholic immigrant families moving increasingly into the American mainstream. Having a portrait taken in their First Communion outfits became an established tradition. We see most boys wearing suits. Norfolk suits were vertt commom. Some boys just wore blouses, but most wore suits. Some of the boys wearimg blouses wore them with white long stockings. And while the suits were mostly worn with jnickers, some of the boys wear=ting just blisescwire them with knee oants. WNorfolk jacket suits were very popular. Most of the suits were done with knickers. Most were dark suits, but we notice a few white suits including some worn with white long stockings. Neckwear varied. We still some floppy bows, most in the early-10s. Most boys wore knicker suits with black long stockings. Suits were dine with knee pants in the 1900s (until about 1908), But in thev1910s wenostlybsee knickers suits. Girls wore juniir wedding drsses with headwear and veils. Mostly the boys wore high-top shoes. We see a few boys weaingbstrap shies, mostly the boys wearing blouses and white long stockings. .

Grant Fahvenbach (about 1910)

This photo postcard shows Grant Fehvenbach in his First Communion costume. All we know about the portrait is the boy's name and the fact that he is American. The portrait is undated, but we would guess about 1910. The portrait is interesting for a number of reasons. Here Grant wears a fancy blouse and bow, but not a suit. We note many portraits of boys doing their First Communion beginning in the 1910s, but few earlier. And First Communin portraits are rare before the turn of the 20th century. We can not yet explain this chronology.

Bartholomrw Children (about 1910)

Here we see an American cabinet card portrait of the Bartholomew children. They are named, Emanuel Bartholomew, Jr. and Emma Bartholomew. They look to be about 6-8 years old. Emanuel wears a knickers suit with a bold pattern. Note the black long stockings. Emma wears an emaculate white dress and flouncy white hat. What looks like Minnie Pearl price tag is a hair bow--very popular in the 1910s, but notbusually worn with a hat. Like her brother she has black long stockings. Emanuel has high-top lace up shoes. Emma looks to be wearing patent leather strap shoes. The portrait is not dated, but it is a new style caninet card and Emanuel is wearing knickers. As as common with the new cabubet card mounts, the studio and location is not indicated. This strongly suggests the 1910s. They wear their sunday clothes. Note the rosary and prayer meaming they are presumablu catholic. Bartholomew is an English name. Therevwere sone, but not many English Catholics. Perhaps they are Anglican. Emma, perhaps even Emma may be doing their First Communion. We begin to see more First Communion portrait in the 1910s.

Arthur Rando (1910s)

This is Arthur RandoHere. His name is written on the back of the portrait. He is dressed up in a white knickers suit for his First Communion. Note the rather rakish hat on the tabel. It is a little difficult to see, but he has a detachable collar and white bowtie. It looks to be a relatively narrow collar, but we can not make out the shape. He also wears white long stockings and white high-top shoes. Dark blue suits were more common, but we see a few boys with these white suits. The portrait was taken in the Olan Mills Studio, but we do not know where it was located. It is undated, but looks to have been taken in the 1910s. The dealer reports that it was with a group pf photographs belonging to a man born in 1906. This was probably Arthur himself.

Cletus Hullen (about 1915)

Here we have another First Communion portrait, or at least we think it is a First Communion portrait. There are four children in the portrait. We think it is the older children having their First Communions. The older boy is Cletus Hullen. He wears a dark knickes suit with black long stockings. The younger boy is Henry Oelschlagen. He wears a white shirt and white knee pants with white long stockings. I'm not sure about their relatioinship.

Missouri Boy (1917)

We do not know this boy's name. We do know that he was from St. Louis, Missouri and that he did his First Communion at St. Anthony Church which may have had an attached school in 1917. His First Communion outfit included a white blouse, white kneepants, white long stockings, and white strap shoes. His hair was dine in bangs, but rather long at the side. All the boys doing their First Communion at St. Anthony wore the same basic outfit so they must have received instructins from the Church. He looks to be 6-7 years old.

New York Girl (late-1910s)

This unidentifird New York City girl looks to be doing her First Comminionm although we are not entirely sure. She wears the white junior wedding dress commonly worn for First Communion. She also has a huge hair bow--very popular in the 1910s. She is ilder than moist girls doing First Communion. The hem is shorter than we see for girls as talla s their mither. Mother wears what looks like a World War I era. The cabinet card is undated, but the mount and clothing suggest the 1910s, probanly the kate 1910s or possiblt the very early-1920s. Note the high-top shies still very cimmon in the 1910s.

Chicago Brothers (1919)

We are a little uncertain about the portrait here. We note two brothers from Chicaho having a formal portrait taken in 1919. We are not sure if it is for a First Communion ot Lithern Confirmation. Perhaps readers may know how to diferentiate. The age of the boys suggests it may be a confirmation. The boys wear dark knickers suit with wing collars and white bowties. They have lapel corsages and sleeve bows. They stand between a elaborate floral display with ribbons and a candel. The candel suggests the boys may be German ancestry. The portrait is useful because it was in a folio-type folder.

Unknown Siblings (1919-20)

This American cabinet card portrait has no accompamying information. It is a new style cabinent card appearing around the turn-of-the century, many of which did not indicate the studio or the location. The boys look to be wearing Norfolk jackets wuthout the pleating and with knickers and black long stockings. They have bpw ties which cover their collars. Their little sister wears a white junior wedding dress and veil with white long stockings. The clothes and the style of the mount suggest it was taken round 1920. It could be the late-1910s or early-20s. We would guess the early-20s because the boys are wearing low-cut shoes. It looks like only the girl is doing her First Communion, but her older brothers were photographed with her. The children look to be about 6-11 years old.


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Created: 9:22 PM 5/3/2010
Last edited: 3:05 PM 3/9/2020