16 January 2009

Shoeless Country Kids

Barfield FamilyThis is a photo of William Barfield and his family: wife, S. Frances Boatright; baby, JB; daughters, Thelma and Ledora; son, Charles.  This photo was probably taken in late 1910. They were a farming family living out in Swainsboro, Emanuel, Georgia.

There are a few reason I really like this photo, one of which is that the children are barefoot.  This is a formal portrait - but the children aren't wearing shoes.  This tells me that they might not have had shoes - or at least, didn't have nice enough shoes for the photo session. Or maybe that was the style?  Who knows.  But for whatever reason, the lack of shoes catches my eye and makes me enjoy this photo even more.


Professor Dru said...

The shoeless children catch my eye also. I've never seen a photo taken in this era where children weren't wearing shoes. I think that they probably didn't have dressy shoes. Nevertheless, they still look good in the photo.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

What a precious photo. Like Professor Dru, most of the pictures I've seen from that era the children have on shoes. I like to think the photographer told them to take them off (they have on beautiful clothes) just like some people in the south who love heirloom sewing for their children's clothes. They will sometimes pose them barefoot.

Brett Payne said...

I wonder whether the photographer was not perhaps an itinerant, and that the portrait may have been taken on the "farm" in a travelling van especially equipped for the purpose. This would certainly fit with the children being shoeless, and travelling photographers were still around in the first decade or so of the 20th Century. If they had visited a regular studio in town, it seems unlikely they would have made the trip withour shoes.

Does the mount or reverse of the photograph indicate who the photograher was?

Regards, Brett

Anonymous said...

I like this photograph, too. It brings back memories to me. I went to grade school around orange groves in So. California in the 1930s and most of the boys didn't wear shoes to school. I wore them to school as did most girls, but took them off when I came home. It was common practice to go barefoot in the summertime, if you could stand the heat. Thanks for sharing this great treasure.


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