Yukking it Up, 1920s-Style

Mrs. Connie Duran, a resident of Cousins Island, attempts an acrobatic move, ca. 1920.

What, pray tell, is going on here? Whatever it is, it looks like fun. And that’s not always the case with historic photographs of individuals. So many photographs from the 19th and early 20th century depict gruff, unhappy, serious-minded individuals that it’s easy to forget people could be just as goofy then as they can be today. A grave or formal aspect might say as much about early photographic methods that required subjects to stay still for extended periods of time than it did about any emotional state.

This ca. 1920 example comes from a series uploaded by an undergraduate USM student digitizing some of Yarmouth Historical Society’s substantial photograph collection. Several others depict general lounging around, games, and childlike play from island residents.

How refreshing that absolutely nothing more important is going on in these photos than what amounts to mugging for the camera. Surely history is as much about the small, relaxed, candid moments in our lives as it is about big events and momentous change.

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