February 24, 2022
I'm driving out to Apache Junction today to talk to the folks at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Here's just a sneak peek at one of the topics we will discuss.
Popular Historical Beliefs That Are Not True
There are tons of these, but here is just one that tickles me.
Popular Belief: People in the Old West did not smile in photographs because their teeth were bad.
An Early Smiler
Actual Fact: People didn't smile in photographs as a rule because they were aiming for the dignified look you were supposed to put forward in those times. They were going for the somber, serious look inherited from portrait paintings of kings and queens and notables, going back hundreds of years. Smiling was considered innapropriate for posterity. All that said, there are, in fact, hundreds, if not thousands, of photos from the Old West era of people smiling (see above) and even sitters laughing. They obviously didn't care about propriety or posterity and I love them for it.
"I'll give you something to smile about."
—Some Creepy Guy at TGI Fridays