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Gunston Girls: 1905

Washington, D.C., circa 1905. "Gunston Hall preparatory dept." Early approaches to prep-school bling. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1905. "Gunston Hall preparatory dept." Early approaches to prep-school bling. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Anyone have any idea how to find out who these young ladies are? The one on the top left looks like she belongs in my family tree. When I first came across this picture over a year ago I was stunned because I thought it was like looking at a picture of myself when I was a child. I've shown it to others and they say it looks like my daughter. And on a side note, I love this site and am so happy that I found it!

My grandmother

My grandmother went to Gunston Hall school. She probably finished school there only a few years before these girls.

I'm guessing you are correct....

The girls in this photo are approximately the same age as my grandmother (who died in 1960 age 76).

I can't help but be sad after comparing these girls to the youngsters that Lewis Hine photographed working in the mills and factories.


Heathers, early prototypes.

Real people, not characters

What a lovely collection of 20th century stereotypes! I think some of us have been watching too many period movies. These people didn't live their lives to provide us with entertainment, y'know.

To Ms. Stoner

I knew someone would say "ick". In our defense, let me just say that we can't talk about brick laying patterns and cars ALL the time...

Whatever happened to . . .

It is fun to guess what became of this class, because their generation's story is the story of the twentieth century. I would suggest that, after their debutante balls, they married doughboys, won the right to vote, bobbed their hair, lost much of their parents' fortune in the crash, and became gold star mothers to sons fighting in the last great war. They watched warily as their grandchildren fell in love with rock and roll, burned their bras, and fought in (or against) the Vietnam war. The world they made, and left, bore no resemblance to the one they saw at Gunston Hall.

Preppier than thou

I taught prep school, and I bet these young ladies gave their teachers merry hell. With a couple exceptions, I think they look proud and disdainful. They remind me of the semi-fictional girls that gave Anne Shirley grief in Anne of the Island. Pretty they may be, but boy did they know it.

Kinda creepy

Not only would they be surprised to know that five score and four people are still gazing upon their visages, I'm sure they'd be slightly uncomfortable to know that a bunch of grown men (presumably) are shamelessly virtually drooling over their budding pubescence. Umm...ick.

For Some Reason

Maybe it's the hair, or something about how her eyes aren't as wide open or bright and sparkling as the others, or how her blouse is far more adorned than them, but somehow Miss front row far right reminds me of Nellie Olsen from the TV version of "Little House on the Prairie." She has what might be described as a spoiled arrogance about her that suggests she wants to run everything and if you're out of favour with her she'll make your life awful.

Done in

My heart would be with Miss 2nd from left front row, but Miss far left front row would get me in her clutches and I would be done....sigh!!!

Can I pick one, too?

It will be first row, far left, with that haughty bearing that (sadly) lets me know I wouldn't have had a chance with her, then or now. For my "dark horse" pick, how about front row, far right, the only girl here who exudes subversion and danger. Maybe a bit of a young Kate Winslet there.

That Gibson Girl hairdo

It works every time. I'm particularly struck by the front row's Miss 2nd from Left.

Have to agree

I don't typically find the women in most older photos to be all that attractive, whether it's due to harsh life circumstances or just different fashion sense, I'm not sure. However, almost every girl in this picture is as beautiful as they come. I love the bow the girl in the back middle has in her hair. It's so huge and ridiculous, and yet charming. I'm sure if she smiled she'd knock you out.

Every time I return....

to see the comments on these girls, they seem to get younger and younger looking. However, if I were their age,whatever that may be, I'd be carrying the books for Miss Thirdfromleft. Her eyes are full of fun and mischief. She can barely hold back from breaking into a full blown smile. Everyone else is looking at the camera, while she has found something else that has torn her attention.

What the heck, it is fun to project our thoughts onto these people who had no idea that anyone would ever see this photo outside their school and family.

I wonder...

I wonder if any of these women even thought that people would be looking at this picture over 100 years later.

Eyes right

Oh, she's quite the looker either way, which I guess got lost in the final draft of my post. But yeah, blue eyes would look amazing set in that face, and I think it would be the "right" color for that determined look.

If she's right

If the comment from Barbara Yanitz is right and the young lady in the top row, second from left had blue eyes, she would have been beyond a stunner. That's a young lady that exudes a determination that the others, as attractive as they may be, do not have. To me, that combination of classic beauty and fierce resolve make her the standout of the crowd.

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find out she became part of the suffrage movement, and was one of the first people in line to vote in the 1920 elections.

[And what if her eyes were green? Gray? Hazel? Brown? - Dave]

Looming Ahead

When conjecturing about the future of these girls or of the members any group pictured from, say, 1900 to the middle of the next decade, it's hard not to think of the influenza epidemic of 1918. Shorpy recently reminded us with the photograph of the ailing soldiers.

Excuse me, Miss Out-of-Focus

Yes you, on the right in the back row. Could you please step a little closer to my heart, er, my camera?

You oughta be in pictures

These girls reek of a good gene pool. Of course it helps if you are born into privilege. I so wish I knew what they did with their lives. I suspect they produced pronounced leaders. Or maybe they or their own made it to the

Refined Associations

Washington Post, Sep 28, 1905

Gunston Hall

Foremost among Washington's institutions for higher education of girls and young ladies is Gunston Hall, a school planned for those who desire the best advantages and wish a beautiful and cultured home, refined associations, and able instruction. It was founded fourteen years ago by Mr. and Mrs. Beverly R. Mason, principals, who are assisted by Miss Edith M. Clarke, associate principal, and twenty-seven experienced teachers. A feature is that the coming session will mark the occupation of the new school on Florida avenue, near Nineteenth and T streets northwest. The structure, a handsome colonial edifice, planned for school purposes, embraces in its equipment all conveniences that experience could suggest, including every health-giving facility.

In the home life every endeavor is made to improve the mind and inspire the soul; to make pupils courteous and cultivated, with sterling qualities of womanhood which influence for truth, gentleness, and beauty of Christian character. The curriculum is well balanced, and the aim is to do earnest work, commencing with the primary and ending with graduating and post-graduate courses. Mr. and Mrs. Mason have achieved the highest ideals in the upbuilding of Gunston, and shown themselves will qualified for their positions. They have the confidence of patrons, and by their able efforts won prestige among educators.


The two young ladies front/middle are not only the prettiest, they also look to me to be the nicest and the most fun. I'd say these latter qualities are more important than just their appearance.

The Bard Says

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;


Super dziewczyny ... qrde, dlaczego dzisiaj takich nie ma?

Knotty Girls

At this point, Gunston Hall had not published its neckerchief tying standard.

(Almost) All Homecoming Queens

This must be the Gunston Hall School for the Gorgeous.

Are you kidding? They are (almost) all striking. A color photograph of the second from left, top row, would show the most incredible crystal clear blue eyes. Too bad she's wasn't my grandmother and passed them down to me.

Beauties, but

Some of the young ladies seem to need to be reminded that "Pride cometh before a fall."

From "Handbook of the Best Private Schools of the United States and Canada" (1915):

Gunston Hall, 1906 Florida Ave., established in 1882, has steadily grown and now has an attendance of one hundred girls coming from prominent families in all parts of the United States. In 1905 the school was moved to its present site in a new building especially planned for its use. Gunston Hall is a boarding and day school and offers a great variety of courses from kindergarten to college preparation. Mrs. Beverly R. Mason, the principal, is assisted by a faculty of twenty-four, about one-half of whom have received college degrees.

"Scenes From the Past"

An interesting article about the Gunston Hall School.

I can pick out three, maybe four, girls here that I'll bet turned out to be real lookers!! (That last word is spelled with an "l" not an "h"!)


What an incredible group of beautiful young women, and future heartbreakers for sure.

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