How to dress your dog in a bonnet, and other cute distractions courtesy of the Fenton and Remak family.

I was going to start this blog post with a grandiose essay on the centuries-old relationship between man and dog that expounded upon some of the greatest philosophical thoughts of our time.  This was going to be followed by an exposition on the transformation of fashion in early 20th century America.

But really, why say in a thousand words what pictures can simply show:

The most patient dogs...ever (photograph, circa 1910)

Can't you just feel the love? (photograph, circa 1910)

A very posh pooch, circa 1920

My money's on the guy on the right. He's clearly putting in more effort. (photograph, circa 1910)

As much as I’d like to just post a bunch of animal images, a little explanation is required.  These pictures are from the Fenton and Remak families papers (#3148), a collection I recently finished processing.  The Fentons and Remaks were joined in 1885 with the marriage of Thomas Hanover Fenton (1856-1929) and Lizzie Spear Remak (b. 1857).  Fenton worked much of his life as an opthamologist in Philadelphia; Lizzie descended from Gustavus Remak, a prominent local lawyer, and Susan M. Scott Remak, a published writer and poet.  Overall, the collection is very rich in genealogical information, particularly on the Remak side since there are several folders of family history notes made by  Susan Remak in preparation for her application to the Daughters of the American Revolution.  There are fewer genealogical materials from the Fenton side; however, there is a significant collection of personal letters received by Doris Fenton (b. 1891), Thomas and Lizzie’s second daughter and once professor of English at Beaver College (now Arcadia University).  There are also many photographs depicting the sculptural works of their eldest daughter and well-known Philadelphia artist Beatrice Fenton (1887-1983).

Finding old photographs among collections of family papers is not uncommon, and there are plenty in this collection (4 document boxes full!).  Now the majority of the photos depict family members, and there’s an amazing range of photographic styles, from cabinet cards and cyanotypes to glass slides and 35mm prints.   What I did find unusual were the number of photographs of animals—dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and their human companions.   Here are just a few more:

Ready for a ride! (photograph, circa 1910)

Awww! (photograph, circa 1910)

Double awwww! (photograph, circa 1910)

Taking a break (photograph, circa 1910)

The invisible nothing had only foiled two this time (photograph, circa 1910)

What do YOU think is in the bucket? (photograph, circa 1910)

The finding aid for the Fenton and Remak families papers is online; a paper copy is also available in our library.


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