“Midget” and Her Parents – California (circa 1910)

I have a packet of postcards related to the family of P. J. Nelson who lived in Los Angles in the early years of the twentieth century.

In 1910, Los Angeles was a large city, but only one-tenth of the size it is today.


The Nelson family was highly communicative, and the packet contains greetings from siblings and cousins.

I was especially interested in the little girl the family referred to as, “Midget”.

I have two pictures of Midget, this one with both of her parents.

Midget’s mother, Flora, reports that this photograph was taken, “just for fun”.

I assume that Flora meant that no special occasion or milestone was being commemorated by the photograph.

It is a striking composition – the family grouped beneath trees on a high, sloping hill.

As is common to photos of this period, the sitters are unsmiling and stiff.

Both Flora and her husband are well-dressed, father wears a suit and a fedora.

It is difficult to see Flora’s outfit, but her hair is nicely done.

Midget is standing on the stone bench beside her father; her tiny hand may be holding on to him.

The postcard photograph was sent to Mr. and Mrs. P. J. Nelson, and Flora addresses Mrs. Nelson as, “Sister”.

This greeting would suggest that “Midget” is the niece of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson.

On the reverse, Flora adds a self-deprecatory remark, that the photo could be used to scare mice.

These kinds of comments are not rare in vintage photographs  -there was a time when people actually considered that it might appear boastful to share photographs of oneself.

Such an attitude, had it persisted, would eliminate most of social media today.

One hopes that Midget was happy and secure as she grew up with the 20th century.


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