A HBC reader sent us this family photograph. We can not yet confrm it, but it looks to be a Slovak-American portrait at a family gathering. It looks like the anniversry of the family pareiarchs seated in the center surrounded by their extended family. We would date the photograph to the late 1940s to us, but we are not positive. The clothing looks American to us, except for the long stockings the boys are wearing. American boys did wear long stockings in the 1930s, but it was much less common in the 1940s, especially after World War II.
Most Slovak immigrants entered the United States before World War I while what became Cechoslovakia after World War I and is now Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Increasing numbers of Slovaks began leaving their homeland dominated by Hungary in the mid-19th century. Limited economic opportunities, a shortage of land, seems to have been the major factor. Political and cultural repression by the Hungarians may have been a secondary factor. Required military service was a major concern on the part of many Slovaks. The Empire was a dual monarchy with the Austrians sharing power with the Hungarians. Other nationalities had few rights. Slovakia was administered by Hungary. Slovaks like other subjects of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire had to get permission to emmigrate. but except for youths of military age there were no significant restrictions placed on emigration.
A HBC reader sent us this family photograph. We can not yet confrm it, but it looks to be a Slovak-American portrait at a family gathering. It looks like the anniversry of the family pareiarchs seated in the center surrounded by their extended family. A reader writes, "I would guess that that the family are recent immigrants to the United States and are still dressing their boys according to European fashions
(long stockings were very common in the late 1940s in continental Europe) but are dressing their boys in clothing purchased in America. Long stockings and hose supporters were rapidly disappearing in the the late 1940s, but they were still available in the USA and conservative parents might still regard them as appproiate for dress-up occasions such as a family celebration. I myself wore tan long stockings with
supporters and short trousers until about 1941-42. Even in 1942 this was a minority style, but some boys I knew in the northeast still wore them in the mid-1940s." HBC does not think that this family is recent immigrants. There are several reasons for this. First of all most Slovaks immigrated Before World War I (1914-18). After the War, national origin quotas severely limited immigration from Slovakia. Second, notice the elderly couple in the middle. Clearly the celebration was for them. They look to be about 70 years old, meaning that they probably immigrated about 1900. Thus their descendents which surround them are all dressed in destinctly American styles. Thirs, while the boys wear long stockings, they are otherwise dressed like American boys at the time. And notice that the girls on the left do not wear long stockings.
We would date the photograph to the late 1940s to us, but we are not positive. A reader writes, "This photo of the American-Slovak family gathering is fascinating and a
bit difficult to interpret. I agree with you about the dating. I would place it about 1947 or 1948."
There is now way of knowing where the photograph was taken, but the long stockings do suggest a northern state. Given that about half of the Slovak immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, that seems a likely location.
The clothing looks American to us, except for the long stockings the boys are wearing. American boys did wear long stockings in the 1930s, but it was much less common in the 1940s, especially after World War II. HBC has collected some information on long stockings during this period. A reader writes, "The clothing does look very American despite the long stockings. The older boy's double-breasted
suit seems to me more American than European. I doubt that the picture was taken in Europe despite your statement (with which I agree) that American boys wore long stockings much less frequently in the late 1940s than they had done in the late 1930s or early 1940s."
A reader points out, "Notice the boy on one knee. You can just make out the two rubber buttons of his supporters at the hem of his short trousers (a bit clearer in the enlarged detail when you click on the image). The spacing of these two buttons indicates that he is wearing American hose supporters with the Y-shaped pendants that were standard in the United States, but almost never worn in Europe (except by Americans or Canadians). We never see this style of supporters in Germany or other continental countries because European boys wore single-strap garters, usually attached to a Leibchen, whereas American boys who wore long stockings wore pin-on supporters attached to an underwaist or else a garter waist which would almost invariably had had the double-pendant supporters attached. The boy with the suspender shorts and the stockings that do not reach high enough to cover his upper legs under his shorts also seems to be wearing American-style supporters over his hips, although admittedly this part of the image is more ambiguous. But if the image were European the stockings would probably have been somewhat longer and would not expose the boy's upper legs.
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