Baltimore Anthropometric Study: 15 and 16 Year Olds (1922)

U.S. eugenics movement
Figure 1.--Eugenicists had a passion for measurement. This was in part because they insisted that Eugenics was a science. This is a series of photographs taken for a Baltimore anthropometric study in 1922. The photograph here includes the older secondary teenagers (15-16 year olds). This may be a 10th grade class which after the begining of school would have 15-16 year olds. All of the boys appear to be wearing a one piece underwear which is bunched at their waist to show their bare chest for the photo. The boys wear knickers and dark long stockings. This is one reason we think that the photograph was taken at an orphanage. By 1922 many boys, but not all, were wearing long pants.

Eugenicists had a passion for measurement. This was in part because they insisted that Eugenics was a science. This is a series of photographs taken for a Baltimore anthropometric study in 1922. The photo is of 15 to 16 year olds. All of the boys are wearing knickers with belts. Notice that at least 9 of the boys wear knickers below the knees. I cannot tell for sure. All wear dark long stockings; the boy on the far right may be wearing knee socks his stockings appear not to be black as the other boys are wearing. All the boys are wearing high top shoes of different heights. As with the younger boys, half of the boys appear to be wearing a one piece underwear which is bunched at their waist to show their bare chest for the photo. Curiously the only exception is the smallest boy. The five taller boys are wearing some form of underpants which is visible from the knickersí waist. Notice it is the smaller boys here who have the one-piece suits like younger boys. his appears to have been determined by height which may not be the same as age. While the tallest boys are presumably the 16 year olds, human development is not thsat consistent. Thus a few of the taller boys weere probably shorter thsan the youngerr boys. The consistency here suggests this was a orphanage and not a regular public school. The fact that all the boys wear knickers also suggests it may be an orphanage. A reader provides his assessment, "The underwear of the older teenagers is also very revealing in this photograph. Of the ten boys shown, five obviously wear union suits (notice the bunching of the upper part of the union suits around the boys' waists). These could have been waist union suits with garter tabs for supporters for their long stockings (since all the boys wear long stockings). But most boys older than thirteen wore suspender waists with supporters attached to hold up stockings. Notice that several of the boys are wearing suspenders (which could be suspender waists or just ordinary trousers suspenders). Five of the ten boys obviously wear two-piece underwear (shirts and drawers) and have simply removed the undershirts. Notice also that one boy on the extreme right wears longish mid-length drawers that show underneath the stockings, drawers that do not come all the way to his ankles. The photograph suggests that union suits were about equally popular to separate shirts and drawers. But if an orphanage is involved here, the boys would not have had a choice about their underwear. They would simply have worn whatever had been provided. It is interesting, however, that all the boys wear long stockings even as old as 17. This suggests a certain conservatism in the orphanage." Perhaps conservtism was a factor in the same way that school uniform generally laps behind popular fashion. We suspect that limited budgets and relying on donations may be another factor.






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Created: 9:59 PM 9/11/2009
Last updated: 12:57 AM 9/13/2009