Little Boys Wearing Dresses 1916 & 1919.

Theresa Pearl, mother Blanch, and Thomas Perry. Names based on birth dates and the other photo.
Hugh Marion b. 1910. Thomas Perry b. 1916. Theresa Pearl b. 1914. Anna Roberta b. 1908.

Recently I received a scan of the photograph on the left from my cousin Jan. The reverse side of the postcard type photo says “Theresa Pearl’s Birthday   March 10, 1919”  The handwriting looks as though the same person who wrote on the back of this photo Christmas card of Theresa Pearl.  I am not sure that the woman in the photo is their mother, Blanch. I am checking.  I hope I am right because I have no other photos of her.

Note: Yes, that is Blanch Celeste Reed Averette, the mother. I was able to confirm it with some of her descendants.

Below is a photograph of my father Albert at about 3 years old in a little dress.  Younger brother Louis is sitting on the chair in a long gown. It was taken in Kalamazoo Michigan about 1916.

A pattern for a boys dress from that era.
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22 thoughts on “Little Boys Wearing Dresses 1916 & 1919.

  1. The children are adorable! I like Theresa Pearl’s big bow in the picture on the left and their lace up boots. At first glance, I thought Thomas was a girl until I read the description. It appears he’s wearing a dress. I also have photos of younger boys from this time period wearing dresses. Guess it was the style. Thomas was certainly pretty enough in that photo to be a girl! 🙂 Do you have a photo of the girls when they were grown? Imagine they were beauties.

  2. I know that certainly prior to WW2 it was not uncommon in agricultural communities for boys to be dressed like girls. And that was in no way regarded as funny or weird or…
    I hope you will be able to find out whether the photo really shows Blanch. But I can imagine that won’t be easy!

    1. The only way I will know if it is Blanch is if my aunts can tell me. If they don’t remember I’m lost. Unless someone from Uncle Hugh’s side of the family finds me. They lived Indianapolis but it seems that boys were dressed in dresses in the cities too. I have one of my Uncle Louis wearing a dress at a young age and I heard that his hair was kept long for several years.

  3. It’s always exciting to finally get a picture of someone you haven’t seen before. Of course, now you have another mystery, but that’s the world of the family historian. I hope you find an answer.

  4. Isn’t it wonderful when you receive a family picture that you’ve never seen before? This one is delightful and I hope you are able to find out more in due course. The second picture is lovely too.

  5. I sure think it must be Blanche. She looks very maternal in this photo. The kids were very spiffy dressers – especially pearl – that christmas photo. What a gorgeous dress.

    1. I was wondering why there seem to be more photographs focused on Theresa Pearl and I think it’s because she was named after my grandmother Pearl.

  6. I had a cousin whose mother dressed him like a girl until he was 5. He unfortunately did not mature into a stable person and I always wondered if gender confusion was part of it. I did not know until I read these remarks (Peters) that this was not an uncommon practice – the aunt who dressed him was Icelandic. Theresa Pearl is beautiful and the bow is very grand. How wonderful to have photos exchanges going on with your relatives.

  7. Beautiful children and great portraits that I’d bet were often compared to children of later generations. Shoes seem so sensible in this era, carefully polished and no doubt often repaired. Not part of today’s throw away culture.

  8. The link to see the photo of your father segues nicely with the theme, Kristin. That hat looks like it was borrowed from his mother for dress-up – looks like a pith helmet for an African safari! The belt gives the whole rig a nice military bearing. I love it!

    1. I’m pretty sure that was NOT my grandmother’s pith helmet. I wonder if she made it from the pattern with the belt. On second look I don’t think so since there are more tucks on my father’s outfit. Thank you for finding a link to the prompt ;-P

  9. Fun pictures and I was surprised by the McCall pattern.
    The only “dress” I ever wore was when I was baptized…
    and I had no say in the matter, obviously…

        1. You are right, they would. Even though it had no such affect that we can see on those who were dressed that way during the period mentioned.

  10. I loved these photos and wish you well with sorting out whether it is Blanche. I think boys being dressed in what we’d call girl’s clothes was an era thing, not a location. That McCalls pattern sent me flying back to my sewing days (not sorry to have left those behind!)

  11. The “boy’s dress” is very interesting and I believe part of the “turn of the century” children’s sartorial lexicon.
    It brought to mind a comment from David Bowie when he was questioned about his sexual orientation and an outfit he wore during a concert. He told the interviewer that he wasn’t gay or particularly effeminate because what he was wearing was a “man’s dress.” The remark greatly amused me and for me it was clearly memorable. (Obviously)!
    Once again, extraordinary research and work. Wow!

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