Woman from Wimmerby
Date: Sometime 1883-1888
Photographer: August Widén
Provenience: Vimmerby (or possibly Hultsfred), Sweden
Another shot from my collection of unknown persons from the past - from a family album. I don't know if she was a friend or a relative and no description was given on the photo. It was obviously clear to the owner and little thought was given to what would happen to it a hundred years or so later.
(Learn from this the good idea of always writing down who is on a photo, and perhaps also when it was taken - be it a photo on paper or on your computer, you will regret it otherwise, some day. End of lecture.)
The woman comes from somewhere in Småland, perhaps from Vimmerby (then spelled Wimmerby) or Hultsfred, where the photographer also had a studio. There is no date and her dress is rather indistinct fashion-wise, but the photography itself is revealing. On the back it says the photographer was awarded in 1883 (which of course means it can't be earlier than that) but I know from other sources later photos from the same man boasts of an award he won in 1888 - which makes it highly unlikely this would be taken after that.
The dress itself is not very fashionable, she is not wearing expensive clothes of the latest cut and her hair-do is quite simple. Her dress has a rather coarse fabric and the fitting is far from perfect - and at the same time it is likely this was her best dress, she has tried to add some finer details with the placing of the buttons and the arrangement with the collar. It is very likely she had seen pictures of the current fashion and then sewn this dress herself (and if she did not, someone in her family - in any case not anyone professional). She is in her Sunday best for this photo-shoot and she has even added some jewellery, both a brooch for the collar and a little horseshoe-shaped pin for her hair. All in all it would seem she was a member of the lower classes, probably one of those who worked the land without owning it, who were in abundance in the late 19th century Sweden - many of whom would leave this either for a life in the city or even take the big leap of faith and move to the US.
Compare this photo with this - it is from the same album, but of one of those women who left with hopes of a better life in a new place.