Friday, June 17, 2011

The German American Collection, Althea Hope Risebake

Written on the back of the school photo in a childish hand, "Althea Hope Risebake" Stamped, "SCHOOL PROJECTS PHOTO CO. 309 MAIN ST. ORANGE, N.J. Tel. OR. 5-5286 Res. OR. 5-5622."


The problem I'm having with the German American collection (Click on German American in the labels section to get more information and more images.) is that it's so broken up it's almost impossible to build a real narrative of this family. What I do know is that a German family immigrated to the United States and made a life in New York and New Jersey. These two pieces both have education as a theme, but they don't come from the same time or place. Was the District Number 13 souvenir tag from the Andes, New York School District given to the child of a German immigrant, and a parent of Althea Hope Risebake, or was it given to someone born and raised in the U.S. who would eventually marry into that immigrant family? Was Althea born in Germany, struggling to learn English along with her math and geography, while her American born class mates made fun of her accent? Of course, when this picture was taken, an accent may have been common in this school. While it's frustrating not to know, it also allows for a freedom of speculation that makes collecting old photos endlessly fascinating. .

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