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Bo Peeps: 1905

Bo Peeps: 1905

Circa 1905. "Schoolgirls." Our second group portrait taken at this undisclosed location. A mute choral recital hitting all the notes on the scale of emotions between embarrassed and mortified. Detroit Publishing Co. View full size. UPDATE: This is the Saints Peter and Paul Academy, 64 Parsons St., Detroit.


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Poor little Irish kids.

Most of them did not look to be too happy about being dressed up. Those look like some pretty fussy outfits for 1905. Sts. Peter and Paul was a grade school in an Irish Catholic parish - see all the freckles and what is most likely some red hair? (too dark to be brown and too light to be blond(e))Of course, their unhappiness could be due to the meanest nun in the school making threatening faces at them behind the photographer. The bonnets on the girls... well, they all had to attend daily Mass even if it's a school recital day, and this was back when covering the heads of females in church was a matter of Canon Law.

Not as wide

This picture doesn't include Karl Rove's face like the boys' version does.

Foretelling faces?

One thing that we know for certain -- they are all gone now.
As I study the variety of expressions I wonder if they give us any clues to their personalities and insight into what kind of lives they lived.

Don't kill the photographer

In my day, the photographer taking class shots always made some silly remark to get us all giggling just before snapping the shutter, but with the longer exposures required by the slower emulsions of yore, the adjuration would more likely be to stand perfectly still and not move a muscle - possibly reinforced by the teacher standing off to the side tapping a hardwood ruler on her palm. No wonder they weren't smiling.

Baa Baa Baa

Maybe they performed to the Whiffenpoof song.

Another possibility

Could there be some sort of Wizard of Oz connection. The book was published in 1900 and a musical stage play produced in 1902. Admittedly the book only has one Dorothy and one Tin Man, but the boys do look like tin men rather than knights.


What was the tipoff as to the location? Excellent, indeed!

Too Pretty For School

I have to agree that this must have been taken for a recital or play or special event at the school. No way these kids could have kept those white dresses so pristine! I love their facial expressions though -- just like any school photo.


First row, third from right reminds me of "The Shining." Yikes.

Kill the photographer?

Or at least these two groups of kids seem to have that in mind. It makes me wonder what the fool behind the camera said or did to the foil boys and the crepe paper Bo Peeps to elicit such an assortment of scowls and puss faces from these well appointed little kids.

[I suspect the ridiculous costumes have something to do with it. - Dave]

The Next Step

Shorpy members are indefatigable! Now to learn why these suffering souls were dressed as they were.

I think I recognize them.

Aren't they the Gashlycrumb Tinies?

Hold on to your milk money!

I see several bullies in this group.

Location disclosed!

This was the Saints Peter and Paul Academy, a school operated under various names by the Archdiocese of Detroit from 1892 to 1969 at 64 Parsons Street. Currently the St. Patrick Senior Center.

[Excellent detective work! - Dave]

16 vs 18

I take that back about there being more boys.
There are 16 girls (plus the adult woman) and 18 boys.
The boys just posed in more rows than the girls.

How the other half of the class dressed

They had a whole lot more knights in tinfoil armor than they got damsels to be rescued by those knights. I think those skirts are made of crepe paper, as are some of the hats.

I don't think I'd be smiling either if the adults dressed me in such an outfit and made me stand still (what seemed like forever) until the photo was done, knowing that a century later thousands of people would be looking at how stupid I looked.

Based on the shoe style, I think this may have been a dance recital. But why they have twice as many boys in a dance class than girls is beyond me. Most boys do not like to dance (which may explain why the boys look so glum).

Except for the lass in the first row (third from right) who seems to be ready to kill, the rest just seem to be thinking "please, let's just get this over with."

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