Some Things Never Change

With Valentine’s Day just two weeks away and the unseasonably warm weather at the beginning of this week lifting our spirits, we’ve been getting ready for some romance at the Rosenbach. We’ve reinstalled the dining room as a romantic dinner for two, changed the highlights in the partner deck to a more romantic theme, and are gearing up for a series of docent-led romance tours and some love letters hands-on tours. Check out our newly redesigned website for details on the goings on.

As an antidote to all the romantic drama, my colleague Karen is also launching a new hands-on tour she’s affectionately nicknamed the “bad girls tour” and I was really amused by one of the pieces she’s selected that could also have fit in nicely with the romance theme. It is a group photo of ten girls, including Rebecca Rosenbach, the sister of Philip and A.S.W. Rosenbach.

H.C. Phillips, group photograph. Philadelphia, 5 April 1882. 2006.1549

The amusing part of the photo is the reverse, which features a penciled list of the girls in the photograph, along with ratings of their looks–“pretty,” “beautiful,””very ugly”. Beckie Rosenbach was apparently”beautiful + pretty”. A note at the bottom warns “the above is the unanimous verdict of three young gentlemen of Philadelphia and don’t you forget it.”

H.C. Phillips, group photograph. Philadelphia, 5 April 1882. 2006.1549

In an age of websites like Hot or Not and Rate My Professor, where you can give your prof a chili pepper for “hotness,” these kind of artifacts remind me that there is nothing new under the sun.