Edith’s Official School Photo, c. 1915

An undated group shot shows Edith Gehring and her classmates. Edith can be found in the 2nd row, 3rd from the left. Scan © Mark Zanzig/zanzig.com

The story behind the image

My grandmother Edith Gehring was born in Oldenburg (Lower Saxony) in Germany in 1905. She grew up in Schönwalde am Bungsberg. This official school photo shows her in the 2nd row as 3rd from left. I’d guess that she could have been 9 or 10 years old by then, so the photo was captured probably in 1915 in Schönwalde or Lensahn. The original print was heavily damaged and had faded already, and I manually removed all the tiny spots and scratches across the entire image, carefully restoring the original look. You will see a comparison below.

I find this image very interesting for several reasons.

First, it was a girls-only class, apparently covering multiple age groups. This was common back then, but is unusal today. Second, the girls look all very serious, even frightened. Except Edith who looks quite fashionable and positive. It’s no surprise she would pick up a job in fashion after grduating from school. Third, Edith already resembled her old alter-ego a lot. It’s easy to recognize and identify her even if you only know her from pictures that were made decades later. And finally, the teacher seems to be young but he looks very grim as well. Or is he just trying to be serious? This is a remarkable difference to modern education a century later where teachers and pupils look much more friendly and natural.

Comparison of original image (as scanned, on the left) and restored image. Scratches and spots have been removed carefully, saturation has been significantly reduced, contrast has been increased, gentle sharpening has been applied. © Mark Zanzig/zanzig.com

The high resolution image

Capture Dateunknown, about 1915
Image Source9 x 14 cm black & white print
Digital Image SourceEPSON Perfection 4870 Photo
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 48 bits/pixel, AdobeRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions5758 x 3839 Pixels
CopyrightScan © by Mark Zanzig/zanzig.com

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