Photography in Early 20th Century Poland #poland

Robert Mandelbaum

My great-grandfather's sister had six children, four girls and two boys. Two of the girls (Ida and Anna) emigrated to the United States in 1911 and 1912, and the rest remained behind and perished in the Holocaust. I have a couple of photos of the siblings in Poland (the family came from Skidel, near Grodno) -- one containing the five who were still there in about 1912 (Anna is in it but Ida had gone, and their youngest brother was no older than 15), and the other depicting the remaining four standing around the gravestone of their father, who died in 1926. A third photo of four females and two males includes Ida (born around 1887 or 1888), and so was taken before 1911, but the other people, none of whom are children, are not her siblings. Some of the girls are wearing similar neckties (perhaps some sort of uniform?), and the boys (men) are also dressed alike. I also have several other photos of some of these same unidentified girls, possessed by Ida (who died in 1972). My question is this: Does anyone have any idea why a girl from a shetl might have had studio photographs taken in that era with a group of similar-aged people who were not her siblings? Might these be schoolmates of some kind? Is it conceivable that she would own other photos of such schoolmates, some of which she's not even in herself? If it would be helpful to see any of the photos I mentioned, I will happily send them.

Thank you very much,
Robert Mandelbaum
New York, New York

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