A Seattle Flapper's Jazz Age Scrapbook

  • A wonderful scrapbook compiled by a young Seattle flapper named Lillian during the late teens, 1920s, and later, with nearly 400 photographs, many depicting adventures around the northwest coast.

    Lillian appears often in the album, a striking young woman with a boyish elegance, always impeccably dressed in up-to-date styles. In one of the earlier photos she appears in a late-Edwardian outfit with her hair up, but she apparently transitioned quickly to the flapper style, and appears in most of the images wearing classic 1920s fashions with her hair charmingly bobbed. In one small photo she is seen in an attractive Deco-style bathing suit and in others, on cruises and at the Queen City Yacht Club, she appears in yachting whites and sailor-style outfits. In the ukulele photo and some of the sailing shots she is even wearing trousers.

    Lillian and her friends appear to have been an outgoing bunch; included are photographs of musical events where Lillian plays the accordion, with a newspaper clipping showing their group performing at the yacht club. Friends appear in their nursing and Red Cross uniforms, with some photos taken on a children's ward. There are social gatherings; car trips along the Columbia River Highway, a cruise on the Princess Marguerite Steamship to Victoria, British Columbia (Lillian seems to have been fascinated by the icebergs); and numerous camping and fishing trips.

    A number of the photos were taken at what appears to be the family home in Seattle, a brand new Craftsman-style house, which would have been an important symbol of the family's upward mobility. Lillian and her family seem to have been animal lovers, as there are numerous photos of pets, including a boxer dog, a terrier, and cats with kittens - Lillian appears with the terrier in a series of images. There are also shots from around Seattle, including a series depicting huge drifts of snow, which may have been taken during the snowstorms of 1916, which left drifts of up to five feet, or 1920, when a storm deposited more than 18 inches. Some photos identify apartment buildings in Seattle and Los Angeles that are still standing today (220 Belmont Ave. in Seattle and 1616-1618 Main Street in LA), and there is a large, evocative photograph of a 1920s hardware store with stylish counter displays. Finally, the scrapbook continues into the 1930s and early 40s with a handful of photographs from that period scattered in amongst the other material.

    We have been unable to conclusively determine Lillian's last name, but it is possible that she was Lillian Christoffersen, a child of Norwegian immigrants who became a schoolteacher and was known to enjoy playing the accordion (source 1, source 2). Overall, this a fantastic photographic record of the life of a young woman and the changing fashions of one of the most exciting periods in American history.

  • Seattle, WA, 1920. Oblong quarto (175 x 270 mm), 100 thick black pages. Contemporary purpose-made cloth scrapbook bound with a silk tie, title "photographs" in gilt to upper cover. Containing approximately 384 mounted original silver gelatin photographs (sized between 25 x 25 mm and 127 x 178 mm), a few with annotations indicating places, dates, and people; 9 real photo postcards; several newspaper clippings; and a greeting card. Some wear and bumping of the corners, a few photographs removed, occasional creases, splits, and chips to page edges, occasional damage to photographs. Very good condition.

Collections: Women's History




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