1915: The stylish Stoutner siblings

Sepia Saturday 386: Third in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

By the time my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence was 9 years old, she had two younger siblings — Andrew J. Stoutner, born in 1909, and Margaret Catherine Stoutner, born in 1914.

The Stoutner siblings in 1915. From left, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence,9; Margaret Catherine Stoutner, 1; and Andrew J. Stoutner, 5. Scan by Molly Charboneau

They appear together in this studio photograph, which was probably taken for Aunt Margaret’s first birthday in January 1915.

This picture provides the clearest evidence yet of a family influence on how the Stoutner children dressed.

Lovely in linen

At the left, my grandmother wears what appears to be a linen or cotton-linen dress — long-waisted, short sleeved, with contrasting piping at the neckline and yoke.

White stockings and a white, high-necked blouse, with vertical stitching at the yoke and lower sleeves, echo the piping detail. High-buttoned black boots, a pendant necklace and two satin bows containing a looser hair style complete my grandmother Liz’s fashionable portrait.

Stylish siblings

Next to my grandmother, one-year-old Aunt Margaret wears a frothy, white dress with lacy cuffs and collar and vertical yoke stitching.

Although similar to my grandmother’s dress at age one, Aunt Margaret’s dress features two contrasting flower details, perhaps in a shade of pink, at each side of the yoke . Her fair hair is combed in a simpler style and she wears no jewelry. White stockings and little button boots finish her look.

Beside her, Uncle Andy completes the group — his hair dark like my grandmother’s and trimmed in a handsome cut. He appears to be all in white, from a sailor-collared shirt and knee-length bloused pants with button detail to stockings above his polished black boots. At the neckline is a contrasting satin bow, perhaps in a shade of blue.

The Stoutner family in 1915

I wondered what the Stoutner family looked like in 1915 when the children’s photo was taken. The New York State census for that year (in which they were enumerated as “Staughther”) provides a snapshot, as excerpted below.

1915 New York State Census – Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. – ED 1, Ward 3 Census date: 1 June 1915 – The Andrew Stoutner Family living at 4 Wells Street – Source: NYS Archives/Ancestry.com
Name Relationship Age Occupation
Andrew Stoutner Head 40 Machinist
Celia Stoutner Wife 37 Housework
Elizabeth Stoutner Daughter 9 School
Andrew Stoutner Son 5 School
Margaret Stoutner Daughter 1 No occupation

Families have high hopes for the next generation and my German-American great-grandparents Celia (Mimm) and Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner were no different.

As children of immigrants, Pete and Celia were probably strivers who sought to give their children every advantage — starting with dressing for success. My grandmother Liz learned this fashion lesson early and stuck by it all her life.

But who else played a role? Did Pete’s brother John — a garment industry professional — help out with this? What about the rest of the extended Stoutner family? Were they also snappy dressers who passed on their flair for style?

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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8 thoughts on “1915: The stylish Stoutner siblings”

  1. Beautiful clothing. I wonder how they kept linen dresses looking so neat and tidy. The fashion angle is a very interesting take on your families photos.

  2. Thanks, everyone, for the insightful comments. This was a fun post to write — particularly the clothing details. I was also prompted to take a look at my grandmother’s family in the 1915 NYS Census when I realized that was the year the photo was taken — some nice Sepia Saturday synergy.

  3. My father was the same age as your Great aunt Margaret, and I don’t think he ever sat still for such a nice photo. These children were very photogenic and well behaved (not that my father wasn’t, but he was into fun a lot also!)

  4. Besides the lovely clothing they wore in that picture, everything else about those children was certainly in vogue – especially your grandmother’s hair style. How lovely she looked. And I love her properly crossed ankles. Her brother, of course, was positioned just as young boy should be. Probably the photographer’s influence? A wonderful photo and how lucky you are to have it!

  5. They make a beautiful trio of siblings. I like learning the exact date for photos like this as I often encounter similarly dressed children on undated photos. The giant hair bow was an especially common fashion, as was the sailor suit. I have wondered if they were styles popularized by the pictures of some celebrated person’s children. Teddy Roosevelt’s children perhaps.

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