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“Mother with daughters ready to marry” in Norway? The photo has a different story

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Twitter users are discussing a photo that the description claims is of three Norwegian women: a mother with “daughters ready to marry”. However, the comment on the shared photo is misleading.

An anonymous Twitter user on December 18 posted a photo with the following description: “Mother with daughters ready to marry – Norway 1906”. The black and white photograph shows three women. The eldest sits in the middle, the two younger ones stand behind her to the left and to the right. They are all dressed in characteristic, probably traditional clothes – dark blouses with short sleeves, wide skirts with stripes and checks. They have large white bonnets on their heads, from which bangs stick out; hair caps hold large, decorative pins. In the photo, apart from the women, only a fragment of the chest of drawers is visible. The photograph looks old, which was not created by applying some filter or effect to a modern frame.

A photo purported to be of a mother with her daughters ready to get marriedTwitter

The tweet with the photo was liked by 175 users, and it was viewed by over 15.3 thousand. times. Tweet views is a new, publicly available statistic introduced via Twitter on December 22.

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The photo caused a lot of discussion. Some Internet users believed the accompanying description. “If I were a bachelor, I’d run where the pepper grows. The absence of my father is very suspicious”; “I don’t think they were ready”; “They look ready not to marry, but to murder”; “They look like GDR athletes” – internet users mocked (original spelling of all posts). However, some claimed that the photo did not show Norwegian women. “It’s fake. It’s not even Norwegian folk costumes”; “These are not Norwegians,” they commented.

We checked when the photo was taken and who it depicts.

Not Norwegian, different circumstances

The picture description is really misleading. Using image search we arrived to this photograph available in the digital resources of the New York Public Library (NYPL). NYPL reports that the photo shows three Dutch women (actually a mother and daughters) from the southern part of the Beveland peninsula in the province of Zeelandia. The photograph was taken around 1905 in the United States on Ellis Island in New York. The women came there as immigrants. In the years 1892-1954 he was on the island control point for the millions of immigrants arriving in the United States. Ellis Island was nicknamed “the island of tears”.

The author of the photo of the three Dutch women is Augustus Frederick Sherman. He was a clerk in the immigration office on the island. In the years 1905-1925 he took about 250 photographs. He usually photographed people detained in the office for a short time, often dressed in traditional clothes. The photos were not part of official immigration records, but a private record of the cultural diversity of newcomers to the US. The collection of portraits went to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and the New York Public Library. In 2021 photos have been digitized and are available on the NYPL website.

Photograph of three Dutch women on Ellis Island, probably 1905Augustus Frederick Sherman/Digitalcollections.nypl.org

Author:Gabriela Sieczkowska

Main photo source: Twitter

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