** Argentina Argentino


Figure 1.--Here we see an unidentified Argentine boy wearing a short pants sailor suit, a very European look. The portrait is undated, but we would estimate the earlt 1920s.

Modern Argentina is essentially a transported European country. Much of the population is of Spanish or Italian ancestry. The Native Americans peoples were essentially exterminated. Argentina did not have the corosive impact of slavery to contend with that Brazilians faced. Argentina is one of the more fortunate Latin American countries. There are enormous natural resources and vast areas of rich agricultural lands. It is potentially one of the world's richest nations. Argentina at the time of World War I was making the transition from developing to modern developed country. Spanish colonial influences along with poor governance which undrmined the country's finances and productive economy stopped that development. And even today, socialist politicans supported by many Argentines continue to resist the free market reforms that have permitted real economic progress in countries like Chile and Brazil and more orminently the Asisn Tigers. . Clothing styles thus reflected basically European styles--at first Spanish styles. There were some Native American influences, the most important being the Andean poncho. The most destinctive Argentine style is that of the poncho. But unlike the American cowboy, there was no lasting influence on modern Agentine clothing styles. Both Italy and England infuenced Argentine clothing styles. Large numbers of Italians in the late 19th- and early-20th ceturies immigrated to Argentina. More recently America appears to have influenced Argentine boys fashions.


We do not see much in the way of whtmight be called Argentine styles. Thus chrinological trendse primarily what foreign trends were most influential over time. Trade and immigration were mortant in the 19th centyury. In the 20th century movies and mass media become a factor. We do not yet know much about clothing trends in the 19th century. They surely would have followed European rather than American styles. Our 19th century Argentine archive, however, is still very limited. We know much more about the 20th century. We see fashions at the turn of the 20th century that look rather French or perhaps Italian. We see a mix of European influences in the early 20th century, including French, English, and Italian styles. We are not sure abour Spain, we thgink styles there were influences by France and Italy. After World War II we begin to see American influences in casual styles. Argetina had always had a great European influence in culture, trends, and clothing until the 1960s. Argentina became an isolated country in the 60s that tried to produce everything it needed the European influence was remarkable during the following decades. That was especially distinguished on clothes, however a major change took place in 1989 with the opening of the country to the free markets and fast changes in habits happened in a short period of time. The situation change completely and the Argentinians at all social levels focused their eyes to America and its culture of fast food and Hollywood films. Everything tends to be more and more informal since then. And as pan-European and American styles tended to merge, Argentine styles became largely indistinguable from Europe and America.


Archeologists have found evidence of human habitation dating to about 13,000 BC. No major Native American civilizations developed. The less-civilized tribes not only stop the expansion of the Incas south, but also proved more difficult for the Spanish Conquistadores to overwealm. Spanish Conquistadores reached modern Argentina (16th century). Juan de Solís landed in Plata estuary, but was repelled by the Native Americans (1516). Magellan mainland lanfall (1520) during his circumnavigation expedition. Another expedition was repelled (1527). Pedro de Mendoza founded Buenos Aires (1536), but was forced by Native American attacks to abandon it. Garay leading an expedition from Asunción refounded Buenos Aires (1580). Buenos Aires became the capital of the Spanish vice-royalty (1776). The British destroyed the French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar (1805). Napoleon invaded Spain launching the Peninsular Wars (1806). A weakened Spain faced revolts in its American colonies. Argentines led by Belgrano, Pueyrredón, and San Martín waged a successful war of independence (1810-16). After the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna restored the Old Regime in Europe, but the British Royal Navy prevented the restoration of colonial rule in the Americas. Indepedence was followed by a civil war until Juan Manuel de Rosas imposed a dictatorship (1829-52). Urquiza deposed him (1852) and a new constitution was adopted. This constitution with amendments (1860, 1866, and 1898) was the basic govermental structure until 1949. Civil strife and military coups continued to plague the country. The ongoing border dispute with Chile was resolved (1902). Argentina was a destination for European emigration, especially from Italy. The country remained neutral in World War I, but benefitted from war orders. The country's military leaders were sympathetic to the Axis in World War II. The country again benefitted from war orders. The country seem posed to make the transition to a developed economy, but sucumed to the alures of populalist leader, Col. Juan Peron. His regimes was widely supported by a coalition of workers, catholics, nationalists, and the Army, but chaotic policies severly damaged the economy which has never fully recovered. The declining economy eroded his popularity and he was over thrown by the Argentine Army (1958). Civilian governments failed to arrest the economic decline or deal with a communist insurgency and the Army seized power (1966). The Army conducted a brutal campaign which did destroy the communist insurgency, but in the process many mostly young people disappeared, meaning were tirtured and killed by the military. The military Junta in an effort to regain popularity, invaded the Falkland Islands (1982). British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ordered the military to retake the Islands. Military failure finally resulted in the fall of the Argentine Junta and the restoration of democratic rule.


Argentina is one of the Latin American countries most blessed by nature. The vast Pampas is a fertile region that along with arange of natural should support a prosperous economy. And it looked like Argentina would become the first developed ecomnomy in Latin America. World War I gave a tremendous boost to the country's economy. Spanish colonial influences along with poor governance which undrmined the country's finances and productive economy stopped that development. Amother major fsactor was the developing politcal power of socialist-oriented labor unions combined with the populist politics of Col. Juan Peron. The subversion of the legal system by the Peronistas and the commitment to social welfare programs the economy could not support resulted in economic disaster. Entrpreneuers were reluctant to invest in Argentina. And as a result the country has lurched from one econimic crisis to another. The Falklands War was a thinly duisguised effort by a military junta to destract the population from economic problems. As a result, living standards have remained far below European and North American standards. National bankruoptsy resulted in some free market reforms and prudent fiscal policies. Argentina in recent years has benefitted from the rise in commodity prices, especially increasing agricultural prices. The Government of President Cristina Kirchner has pursued a range of repressive policies and increasingly havy-handed state control. This continued the now familiar Argentine pattern of inflation, repression, and state cintrol leading to economic failure despite the country's great potential.


HBC at this time is only begining to obtain information on the garments worn by Argenine boys. Argentine children generally followed the same styles and conventios As in Western Europe. Spain and Italy seem particularly important influences. Younger boys wore dresses. We do not note many boys wearing smocks except for school wear. Tunics seem to have been popular at the turn of the 20th century. We note that sailor suits, middy blouses, and kneepants suits. Suit style seem to have followed European styles. Boys seemed to have mostly worn socks rather than stickings. We do, however, note boys wearing long stockings for forml occassions. After World War I kneepants disappeared and Argentine boys began wearing short pants. After World War II long pants become more commom.

Ethnic Costumes

The primary symbol of Argentina is the gaucho. The flamboyant gaucho costume is along with their distinctive character is an important part of gaucho culture. The modern gaucho costumes include a few modern touches, but are basiclly a reflection of actual gaucho clothing. A basic costume is based on the woven wool poncho--actually of Andean rather than pampas prigins. The pancho also could doubled as a saddle blanket and sleeping bag. Theother major item was loose fitting, baggy trousers called "bombachas". I'm not sure what the oirigins of these pants were, but probably reflected populr Spanish styles atvan early point of gaucho history. Others items included tirador (sash) for the trousers, a chiripa (a piece of cloth tied to resemble a diaper). There were also items less common in modern costumes, especially the costumes for children. Gauchos did not have six-shooters, but commonly carried a facon--a long bladed knife worn on the waist, but at the back. Gauchos also had a rebenque (whip) and a lasso rope made of plaited hide. The lasso rope was not as important as it was for American cowboys. Rather very important for the gaucho was the boleodoras--three leather bound rocks tied together with leather straps. They could be used to catch wild animals.

Hair Styles

We do not notice any specifically Argentine hair styles for boys or girls. We see the same styles that American and European boys have worn. The same influences which affected clothing also affected hair styles. We think Spain was a particularly important influence was Spain and that Italy was also important. We see boys in the late-19th century with cropped hair. Younger boys commonly had bangs. We see some boys with ringlet curls, but some boys may have been European expatriats. This is difficult to assess from the photographic record. And we do not have a large archive of Argenine images. American styles do not seem to have been very influential in Argentina. We do not see Argentine boys wearing the crew cut popular in America during the 1950s. We do see Argentine bots wearing the longer styles hair cuts that became popular in Europe during the 1970s. This waas affected somewhat by the political situastion. The military which seized control of Argentina and regarded long hair as a indication of leftist sympasthies.


We do not yet have much information on Argentine boyhood activites and the clothing and costuming associated with them. Here there are several topics we want to persue such as the fine arts (choir, dance, and music), school, sports, and youth groups. Many Argentine children wore white smocks to school. Argentine boys play various sports, but the dominant sport is footbll (soccer). There are also family outings and home plays including topics like toys. Another important topic is religion. Most Argentines are Catholic. Many Argentine children do first communion, although economic class affected to what extent they dressed up for the occassion. Our Argentine archive is still limited, but we are expanding it and home to persue this topic in detail.


We are just beginning to work on the Argentine section of HBC. We have few images at this time, but we gave begun to collect some family images. We note Argentine mothers like European mothers following a variety of conventions such as dressing the children in identical or similar outfits. We note many of the same styles we have seen un Erurope. A factor here was that Argentina like America attracted European immigrants. Many came from Spain and Italy.


Argentina has a popultion primarily made up of European ethnicity based on self idetification. (85 percent). Here the two most importnt groups are Spanish and Italian. The only other importnt group is Amerindian and Mestizo (10 percent). There is a small Arab population (3 percent). This means that Argentina is one of several countries of relatively recently arrived populations. The number and composition of the population was stable until after passing a constitution (1853), the government launched a campaign to attract Europeans to help populate the country. The European at first Spanish population are all immigrants that began arriving in the 16th century. The Italian population only began arriving in numbers much later (late-19th century). But Argentina has the second highest number of immigrants (6.6 million), second only to the United States (27 million). Argentina has more immigrants than counries more commonly associated with (Australia, Brazil, and Canada). While the European ethnic group is primarily Spanish and Italian, but there are smaller groups from most European countries. Argentina is not a country that normally comes to mind when one thinks of immigration. he second highest number of immigrants, with 6.6 million, second only to the United States with 27 million, and ahead of such other immigratory receptors such as Canada, Brazil and Australia. There has been immigratin frm neighboring countries, specially Paraguay which has addd to the Amerindian component. Interestingly, DNA studies show a much higher Amerindian component that self-identification statistics.


Immigration primarily from Europe significantly has played a major role in many Latin Americn countries. Some countries have important indigenous population. Other countries like Argentina is mostly populated by Euopeans. European immigration was especially important in Argentina. It began after independence in 1810, but the principal years were 1880-1910. Many Itlalians immigrated to Argentina, but there were immigrants from many other countries as well, including Spain and England. In the case of Argentina, the social, political and economical crisis of 2002 have caused a substantial reverse migration with many with mant people, usually the father, emmigrting to Spain, the United States, and other countries. In many cases, the emmigrants choose the country they or their ancestors came from.

Figure 2.--This scene from "Chiquitas" (2001) shows the orphans expelling their tormentors.


HBC very little information on Argentine theatricals, all the different media, includung oplays, radio, television and the movies. The only media we have even limited information is the Argentine film industry at this time. Most Latin American countries are noted for only a few important movies. Argentina is one of the three countries with a major film history (the others are Brazil and Mexico). The industry has, however, suffered over time from unstable governments and since the Peron era, an often weak economy. Various Argentine governments hace shown some interest in a national film industry. Argentina in the first half of the 20th century had the most important film industry in Spanish-speaking Latin America. That imdustry by the 1980s have sharply declined as a result of the country' economic and political caos. The Government provided some support such as funding film profuction. These efforts were, however, did not counter the impact of economic decline, political caos, and repressive censorship instituted by military governments. Argentine film makers by the 1980s found it increasingly difficult to compete with foreign-made films. An Argentine reader has mentioned two relatively recent Argentine films: 'Chiquitas' (2001) and 'Kamchatka' (2002).


Argentina is commonly seen as the most successful Latin American country, almost making the transition from a develoioing toa modern developed nation, but then faltering. this is imprtant bbcause art is in large measure a reflectioin of economic activity which is why many Latin American countries have rather kimited artistic traditions. We are just beginning to assess Argentine art. There have been discoveries of cave paintying in Patagoinia, albeit primitive hand images (11,000-7,000 BC). large numbrrs of pictigraohs have been founf in the north. As in other Latin American countries, painting during the Spanish colonial era was primarily religious art (16th-18th centurues). Much of his work was done by Amer-Indians taught by friarss and priests assicuaited with the relgious orders. The work was used to decorate the churches, including examples in mostly northern Argentina. This is geneally referred to as the Cuszo School which dominated art throughout the Andes during the colonial era. In addition to paintings there were also manuscript illustrations. The Cuzco School begam to declne at the great silver mining complex at Potosí began to play out. Noreof the Aner-Indian artists of yhe Cuco school or their descendents ernt bon to play an importnt role in Latin American art. We also see the work of colonists, priests, scientists, and European visitors. Here one of the most importany body of work was the drawings and watercolors of the German Jesuit Florian Paucke (1719-89). The Latin American Wars of liberation occurred ended the Spanish Empire (early-19th century)--except for Cuba and Puerto Rico. Unlike North America, however, there was no ensuing social transformation. In the early-19th century we mostly see see the work of foreign artists who visited and resided in Argentina. An important example was English seaman Emeric Essex Vidal (1791–1861), a watercolorist who illustrate Argentine history at the time. French engineer Carlos E. Pellegrini (1800–75), was also important. His son, Carlos Pellegrini, would be an Argenine president. The seaman Adolfo D'Hastrel (1805-75) published his drawings and watercolors in the book Colección de vistas y costumbres del Río de la Plata (1875). Lithographer César Hipólito Bacle (1790–1838) was also important. Carlos Morel (1813-94) who began to paint (1830s is generally given the honor of the first Argentine national painter. He led the Precursors--the first genersation of Argentine artists. Morel aas followed by Prilidiano Pueyrredón (1823-70) and Cándido López (1840-1902), who created images of the gauchos and Argentina's the 19th century wars. These wars were major events, especially the bloody War of the Triple Alliance, and are virtually unknown outide South America. We note portaits. We see an 1855 portrait by Benjamin Franklin Rawson -- one of the Precursors. We begin to see the first Argentine artistic institutions (mid-19th century). This included La Sociedad Estímulo de Bellas Artes and El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. The Museo's first director was the painter Eduardo Schiaffino. It is at this time, the great wave of European immigration began (1870-1930). Unlike North Anerica it was almost exclusively from Catholic countries--especially Italy. A strong relationship to European painting developed--primarily through Italian painters or children of Italians. At the time Italy was not at the vanguard of Western art. Eduardo Sívori (1847-1918) introduced naturalism. Also imporatnt were Reynaldo Giudici (1853-1927) and Ernesto de la Cárcova (1866-1927) who depicted the inequities of capitalism. Here we see Giudici's 'La sopa de los pobres' (1884). As in other countris, artists did not depict what life was like without capitalism or the barabarites of socialist regimes (Communist and Fascist). Ángel Della Valle (1852-1903) founded school of painying depicting the customs of the countryside, with paintings like La vuelta del malón'. Malón meant the Mapuche plunder raiders. With rhe ddvent of the 2oh centurt, modern art reched Argenina. Martín Malharro (1865–1911) introduced impressionism to Argentina (1902). oyher artits followed: Faustino Brughetti (1877–1956), Walter de Navazio (1887–1919) and Ramón Silva (1890–1919). Soon after, Fernando Fader (1882–35) and the artists of the Nexus group became imprtant ns while infkunced by the French impressionists wanted to pursue their own ideas.


We have not yet found a historicl assessment of Argebtine photogrophy. We can only begin to piece together some infirmation based on the Argebntine ophotograohic record we have veen able to srchive. The economic progress being made in Argentina during the late-19th and early-20th century was reflected in the photographic record during this period. Photograph is in part a marker for economic affluence. That is why there is a larger Argentine photographic record for Argentina than any other Latin American country, including Brazil. We have not yet found many Argentine CDVs. We do not yet if they were not very common or if it refldcts our limited archive. We have found cabinet cards and in considerabkle numbers by the late-19th century. We begin to see substantial numbers beginning in the 1890s. The styles of the card mounts seem similar to those we see in America and Britain. Trends seem similar, but we do note some chronological differences. Other photographic trends with the turn-pof-the 20th century also seem similar to Europe and Ameruica.

Individual Accounts

We have begun to archive comments from our Argentine readers about their boyhood experiences.

Argenine experiences--Leonardo: 1970s-80s

Argenine experiences--Fernando: 1980s


Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
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Created: June 5, 2002
Last updated: 7:50 AM 6/25/2021