Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Women Before Me

I've been collecting vintage photos for sometime now.  At first, like many, I was drawn to sweet images of children.  But lately, I've gravitated to interesting images of women - particularly those with unusual clothing, accessories or backgrounds.  Most of the women are pretty, or at least handsome, though not all.  Some are portraits of the women alone, but many are posed with their families and friends beside them.

As I was searching through my collection looking for just the right image for some art I've been working on, I started thinking of the women in my own family and how each one of them contributed to the woman I am today.  I knew intimately the four generations of women who preceded me on my mother's side.  We lived within blocks of my grandparents and great-grandmother.  My mother's sisters lived not much farther away.  And so these women touched my life on nearly a daily basis.

Even my great-great-grandmother was a part of my life, though she had passed many years before I was born.  My family was a family of storytellers (most of them true and un-embellished, though I suspect not all) who instilled in me the essence of those who had came before: their hopes and dreams, struggles and accomplishments, values and beliefs. And so those women became a part of who I am, what I dream about, struggle toward, value and believe.  Their images are my image - my mother's complexion and love of art, my grandmother's quick wit and deep brunette hair, great-grandmother's sense of fun, love of big hats and gardens, and great-great's quiet introspection, strength and love of needlework.

As I head to my studio these women will be there with me - looking at other women peering out of sepia colored photos, choosing paint and embellishments, telling a new story of my own.

Four generations before me.

Great-great grandmother - Martha Moore

Great-grandmother Nellie Brewer

Grandmother - Laverne Dew

My mother - Helen Jayne as a young girl.

Here are some photos, that I recently fell in love with, of women I've never known:



  1. Susan such a lovely post. I just love the old photo too. Like you I have started with the children, but am now being pulled in by the adults. I love some of the men and their grumpy expressions. Kim

  2. I see that you are into old pictures of family and even people you do not know. For some reason I feel very comfortable in their world. I was going to come back by sooner, but it has been a busy week. I love this post, and the ladies that will be helping you along lifes way.
    Hugs, Mary

  3. wow....I just realized I need to make a special trip up there just to see all these photos I am missing out on! No one ever told me that Grandma Dew was such a fox!

  4. Love your photos of your family...I should scan some of mine.soon. Love looking at them..sally