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The Citizenry

Carte de visite by J. Sagar of Corning, N.Y. Ronald S. Coddington Collection.
Carte de visite by J. Sagar of Corning, N.Y. Ronald S. Coddington Collection.

This view of four ladies standing on the second floor landing of the back of clapboard building was taken by a photographer in Corning, N.Y. On the stairway below them a young girl sits with a dog and an open book. A birdcage is visible above the group.

Analysis of this image by Anna Worden Bauersmith, author of the blog If I Had My Own Blue Box, reveals that they likely worked as milliners. “At first glance, this could simply be a group of women holding their bonnets and hats. Until you look at what is sitting on the railing. Alongside the potted plants is not a bonnet, but a bonnet block, that which bonnets of straw are shaped over. It could be one made of wood or plaster. … In the front, we see what appears to me to be a buckram form that is in the process of being covered. Notice how the front brim is a different shade than the back crown and tip. I think she has covered one area already.”

She added, “Being a photo outside the upstairs backroom, this leads me to think this is outside of the workshop that is often above or behind a millinery shop.”

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