School photography in Amsterdam 1930s

Photo’s (C) Beeldtype: top: Louise De Rooij, bottom: Franciscus Vaal, official schoolphotography 1930s

In the 1930s these kind of official photographs were taken in schools in The Netherlands. Pen in hand, appearing to be writing something down in a notebook. My mom’s photo was taken in the 4th grade so that means she was 10 years old. It must have been taken in 1939, just before WWII. I am guessing that my father is maybe 14 to 16 years old. His photo was taken probably around 1936-1938.

For families who didn’t earn a lot of money, let alone own a camera, these pictures were the only ones of their children growing up. My dad’s family was that kind of family and photos of him are limited to one small album. My mother has a few albums however, but only one other photo taken in school:

My mother and her schoolteacher, mid 1930’s

I still have one school book that my mother must have used in high school. It is a history book, with lots of illustrations and it ends with a section about the first World War. My mother probably started high school in 1940/1941. WWII was already on its way. That is so hard to fathom: she was experiencing that era and I was taught extensively about WWII in primary and high school.

I also realised that my parents, well maybe just my father, had to learn a new way of spelling in 1934. A lot changed in writing the Dutch language with the Marchant spelling. ‘Groote’ became ‘grote’ and the words ending with -sch, were simplified: ‘Mensch’ became ‘Mens’. Must have been hard on my father who was 12 at the time and already knew how to write. He had to re-learn…

Have a look at the lovely illustrations of the ‘Groote Platen-Atlas’ (edition 1925, Sijthoff’s Uitgeversmaatschappij) my mother used at Het Amsterdams Lyceum:

The last pages of the history book about WWI with cartoons that were published in ‘De Amsterdammer'(1877-1925) , the Chicago Daily News and the Sun (Pittsburgh)

I must end this blog with a link to a page with school photography ‘gone wrong’…. just for the fun of it. Here it is.

Published by Françoise Vaal

My addiction to visuals started with cartoons on tv, comic books, and movies. I dreamt away while looking at my mother’s landscape photographs and imagined going there and capturing the landscapes for myself. For more than twenty years I was a picture editor for newspapers and magazines but my own photography had been limited to snapshots of faraway countries. My wish of dedicating myself to my own photography and art finally came true. My home base is The Netherlands.

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