Hundred-Year-Old Composite Picture of the “Good Housekeeping Woman”

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, April 7, 1913:  There isn’t much for today.

Source: Good Housekeeping (September, 1912)

Source: Good Housekeeping (September, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much today, I’ll tell you a little about what I’ve been thinking.

I am still trying to get a better understanding of how people of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and nationalities were perceived a hundred years ago.

An article in the September 1912 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine showed a composite picture of the “Good Housekeeping Woman.”

The photograph  is truly a photograph, and can truthfully be described as the typical “Good Housekeeping Woman.” It is nothing less than the portrait of one hundred of our feminine subscribers, printed upon a single negative . . . what is known as a “composite” photograph.

The hundred photographs were secured by the editor by correspondence and through agents of the magazine in widely separated sections of the continent. Some of the portraits, for example, came all the way from British Columbia. The majority, however, were from New York state, New England, and the Middle West.

I wonder how accurately the women included in the composite reflected the population.

Interesting how composite pictures were created in the days before computers . . .

The Old Year is Vanishing Forever

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, December 31, 1912: Poor old year, how sad that you must die tonight and vanish forever into the gloomy past. Otherwise this day was the same as others. As I think of the approaching tomorrow, I wonder what that year will bring to me. I leave no deep regrets for this dying year, and though I have done things I ought not to have done, I hope they will not occur again to mar the beauty of the year 1913.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Does age affect how we think about the past?  I don’t think of the past as gloomy—though it gets murkier as time goes by.

New Year’s Eve is a good time for self-reflection. I love Grandma’s cautious optimism—and am keeping my fingers crossed that nothing marred 1913, and that it proved to be a beautiful year.

Holly caricature

What’s a Dollar a Hundred Years Ago Worth Now?

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, December 27, 1912:  Sold Mollie’s calf today. It wasn’t a very big one and I rather feared my fortune would be pretty small, but after all it weighed one hundred and forty-four lbs. Received a neat sum of $11.56. I am real proud over what my purse that Ruth gave me contains. Over fourteen dollars.

Source: Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Mollie was Grandma’s cow, and it had a calf on November 15.

Grandma’s parents apparently taught their children the value of money by giving each child a cow. I think that if the cow had a male calf, the child got the money from the sale of the calf—and their personal herd grew if a female calf was born. (See previous post on teaching farm kids that value of money.)

And, we now know that Grandma’s sister Ruth was the person who gave her the purse. I bet it was stylish—and that it looked great filled with cash. Grandma was in the money. I hope she spent it wisely.

According to an online Inflation Calculator website, a dollar a hundred years ago is worth about $23.40 today.

So in real dollars Grandma sold the calf for the equivalent of $240 now. And if she had $14 in her purse, she’d have $328 today.

Christmas Table Decorations and Centerpieces a Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, December 25, 1912:  Xmas: I got a few presents: a purse, one dollar, an apron, a pinholder, a book, a bow, and a pair of slippers. Aunt Lizzie and Uncle George were here and Mrs. Besse to be sure.

We had a turkey and some ice cream. At present I feel like a stuffed toad from too much gourmandizing of a lot of good things. Guess I may call my Christmas a happy one and hoping everyone else has enjoyed the same likewise I’ll bring my entry to a close.

DSC06818.crop

Click on picture to enlarge. Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Grandma got the De Luxe slippers in her favorite color. :)

slipper a hundred years ago

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

Nice gifts, good food, family. . . It sounds like end of a perfect Christmas day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!DSC06819.crop

 

Doll Clothes A Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, December 22, 1912: Went to Sunday School this morning. Ruth and I went up to hear the Xmas services this evening. Twas tonight moonlit.

1912 doll clothes

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Sounds like a lovely day—and a walk home in the moonlight sounds like a nice way to end it .

Between Sunday School and the evening service did Grandma manage to find time to finish making last-minute gifts? . . perhaps some quickly made doll clothes for young people on her gift list.

Both then and now, there’s a mad dash at the end to finish making gifts. I found an article in the December, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal called “Quickly Made Doll Clothes” which featured outfits made from some patterns that the magazine sold.

These quickly and easily made doll clothes should be especially welcome at this busy season, when the dressing of the children’s dolls is generally a last and hurried task.

All the little clothes both for the girl and boy dolls have been cut from one piece or kimono shaping, thus eliminating the difficult making and adjusting of little sleeves, and each garment has few seams and may be cut from a very small piece of material.

doll dress

1912 boy doll clothes

1912 boy doll clothes

1912 doll dress

1912 Slipper Advertisement

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, December 20, 1912: Ruth came home this afternoon. Wonder if she has a fine and dandy present for me.

slipper a hundred years ago

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Ruth had been in Sunbury since the 16th. I think that she was attending a teachers’ training institute over winter break. What Christmas present did she buy for Grandma? Maybe Ruth bought Grandma some slippers.  They would have been a fine and dandy present.

slipper a hundred years ago

1912 slipper

children's slippers a hundred years agoSource: An advertisement by the Daniel Green Felt Shoe Company in the December, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal

1912 Aprons

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, December 19, 1912:  Ma went to town this afternoon to do her Xmas shopping. Wonder what she got me for a present. Perhaps nothing much.

1912 aprons

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Grandma’s mother got her some wonderful gifts.

A hundred years ago people often made homemade gifts. Aprons were a really popular handmade gift back then. Did Grandma’s mother purchase fabric to make one?

1912 apron

1912Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy the post that I did on aprons last year.

 

 

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