Here, in about 1909, is a young, supposedly happy family. You really can’t tell because there are very few smiles on these five people. But, the lack of smiles may be a result of sitting for the camera. In 1909, photos were somewhat pricey and you wanted to get the image as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. So, “don’t smile and ruin the picture.” This is Edward Cox, Jr, his wife Lillian and three of their children. We can pretty closely date the photo because baby Edward was born in 1908 and died in a fire in 1911.
The styles in clothing also give some hints to dating the photo. More importantly, it says something that the Cox family gave close attention to style. They appear to be a young, hardworking family destined to enter the middle class of the United States. Edward is up to date with his style of ties, with the half Windsor knot, or possibly a four-in-hand knot. Mrs. Cox is also keyed into Edwardian style dress with the high collar blouse with the broach pinned in the middle of the throat. The large bows in the hair of both girls is also an interesting feature. Although the debate about chronology is still going on, some would suggest that large bows in young girl’s hair was a feature of the late 1890s and early 1900s.
By looking at the fashions and knowing the history of this family, we have an interesting photo here that gives a fore shadowing of the tragedy to young baby “Eddie.” It also suggests the fashion consciousness of a young, upwardly mobile family living in Becker, MN in 1909.
This photo is from the Sherburne History Center collection, 1992.030.059