This view of four ladies standing on the second floor landing of the back of clapboard building was taken by a photographer in Corning, N.Y. On the stairway below them a young girl sits with a dog and an open book. A birdcage is visible above the group.
Analysis of this image by Anna Worden Bauersmith, author of the blog If I Had My Own Blue Box, reveals that they likely worked as milliners. “At first glance, this could simply be a group of women holding their bonnets and hats. Until you look at what is sitting on the railing. Alongside the potted plants is not a bonnet, but a bonnet block, that which bonnets of straw are shaped over. It could be one made of wood or plaster. … In the front, we see what appears to me to be a buckram form that is in the process of being covered. Notice how the front brim is a different shade than the back crown and tip. I think she has covered one area already.”
She added, “Being a photo outside the upstairs backroom, this leads me to think this is outside of the workshop that is often above or behind a millinery shop.”