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Picturing the family
Picturing the family

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5.2 Records of achievement

A photograph of a male wearing a mortar board
Image 41 Photographer/Painter: Thomas Miller, Wellingborough. Subject: Male wearing mortar board, c.1880.

The Victorian family album validated success. In keeping with the theme of idealization, our ancestors courted the camera to commemorate events and achievements that brought credit to the individual and reflected glory on the family. Evidence of delinquency or failure was excluded or rigorously edited.

Portraits of the new graduate in gown and mortar, the mayor in robes, or the uniformed policeman displaying the latest stripe or badge provided visible proof of career success and achievement in the workplace.

Successful sportsmen and women changed into the appropriate kit at the studio and posed surrounded by the cups, medals, awards and distinctions gained in competition.