Photo Credit: From the Steinfeldt Photography Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.
Passover, 1910

This picture was taken either during the Popkin family Seder in Duluth, in 1910, or right before the holiday. It’s difficult to imagine someone just snapping a photograph at the seder back then, because it probably required a very large apparatus, as well as a strong source of light, which probably didn’t go well with their notion of Jewish Law. Unless the picture was shot by a gentile.

So they probably sat down and posed ahead of the actual seder.

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They’re so solemn. Look at them, they’re outright sad.

I’ve spent my share of Passovers in the Midwest, so I’m familiar with the somewhat joyless approach to life of the Jews of the North – but this is funeral sadness.

Or maybe they’re just waiting for the guy with the camera to finish, so they can crack a smile, or just move. You couldn’t move while those shoebox cameras were taking in the light reflected off your body.

Talk about the Holiday of Freedom…

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Many families hired professional photographers in advance to come to their homes either just before or during seder to photograph the family at the table. As a family researcher, I have seen many such photographs.

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