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November 13, 2016

Awesome Vintage Photographs of Estonian Students in Drag From the Late 19th Century

The student corporations of the Tartu University traditionally held so-called "pledge theatres" in late autumn. The name was derived from the fact, that most of its actors were pledges, uninitiated members of a corporation or fraternity.

The topical and rather entertaining plays were also well-regarded outside of the student community. The actors visited local photographers in costume, and the images were bought as memorabilia. As these were all-male corporations, the female characters were especially popular.

The term "drag" is used for any clothing carrying symbolic significance but usually referring to the clothing associated with one gender role when worn by a person of another gender. The origins of the word are debated, but "drag" has appeared in print as early as 1870. One suggested etymological root is 19th-century theatre slang, from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor.

(Images: National Archives of Estonia)


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