Formal Portrait
Johnston // County Louth :: Formal Portrait

What is happening in the photo?



Jim Johnston as a baby. Jim was son of Margaret and Patrick Johnston. Patrick Johnston was manager of Carolans, on Crowe Street Dundalk, and an accountant. Jim became a tax inspector and accountant, working on South Frederick Street. He was married twice and died in St.Michael’s Hospital, on December 26th, 1966.


It was typical during the Victorian period for young boys to be clothed in dresses, not just in England and Ireland, but throughout Europe generally – the custom began to die out between 1895 and 1905. By the end of WW1, only infants (of either sex) wore dresses. One of many reasons why the custom of clothing boys in dresses disappeared so quickly was that the many boys began to attend school at the age of six, where uniforms were worn. It has also been suggested that Freud’s writing on the latent sexuality of children changed the attitude that children were essentially asexual. In working class communities, the transition to shorts or trousers would have marked the child’s transition into working life. Shorts were popular because making clothes was expensive, and shorts allowed more space for growth.  


This photo of Jim was taken in the 1890’s, and is the last picture we have of him in a dress – from this point on he is clothed in shorts and then trousers. 

Album: Johnston // County Louth
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