Graduates of St. Teresa’s Academy in Boise, Idaho

On the back of this photograph is a handwritten note:

Friends of Doris Dinwiddie at St. Terresa [sic] Academia (Early graduates of)

Graduates of St. Teresa's Academy, Boise 4

I searched online for St. Teresa Academia, but was stumped because there were too many possibilities.  So I looked on Ancestry and found family trees containing Doris Cecil Dinwiddie Crawford (1893-1968).  A photo of her also appeared on a blog in 2016.  Fortuitously, on the back of that photo is a note that she attended St. Teresa’s Academy in Boise, Idaho, and graduated with honors at age 18.  Since she turned 18 in 1911, that provides a possible year for the photo of her two friends above.  Of course, they could be a year or two older or younger, so the date is approximate.

St. Teresa’s Academy was founded by nuns in 1890 as a Catholic high school for girls.  Boys were integrated in 1933 and the school closed in 1964.

Maybe someone will find this post and recognize one of these young women in their lovely graduation dresses.

Graduates of St. Teresa's Academy, Boise 2

Graduates of St. Teresa's Academy, Boise 3

Graduates of St. Teresa's Academy, Boise 5

40 thoughts on “Graduates of St. Teresa’s Academy in Boise, Idaho

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      1. I think exposures were quick by 1911. But the experience of being photographed was probably still novel for most young people. It would be interesting to know how many families owned a camera in a place like Boise.


    1. I think 1911 was near the end of Gibson Girl era, which included big hair. The full sleeves and bodice of the standing young woman’s dress certainly belong to that era. I’m not sure if the seated young woman’s dress would be considered more modern or more traditional.

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  1. Two Beautiful young women and a mystery with some wonderful clues! I love the way their fans are kept close by with a long satin sash tied in a bow. ☺️ Thank you, Brad! This brought me very happy memories of my own graduation from Catholic school in a pretty white dress. Take care!! ☺️✨

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  2. I had to go back and look again when I saw the mention of fans. I think they’re both holding their diplomas — scrolls, tied with a ribbon. They certainly are beautiful young women, and those dresses are out of this world. Pretty snazzy for a Catholic school — or perhaps not, for graduation. A friend’s granddaughter attended Houston’s St. Theresa Academy, and it was uniforms for them!

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    1. Yes, I also think they’re holding diplomas–or pieces of paper made to look like diplomas. I’ve seen graduation portraits where the sitter is holding a diploma open for the camera, which is neat. Your mention of school uniforms made me wonder when they became commonplace. I never see them in older photos from the USA (pre-1940).

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    1. Danke, Xavier! I wish we knew something about these young ladies. For example, where did their families come from? Twenty years earlier, Idaho was still the Wild West. When it became a state in 1890, it had a population of only 88,548, and Boise had just 2,311 residents. By 1910, the population of the state had increased to 325,594, but Boise still had just 17,358 residents.


  3. These young women, and their dresses, are beautiful. I admire them for (A) graduating and (B) keeping those dresses so pristine-looking! I can’t wear a white dress for 5 minutes without spilling something on it.

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  4. Such finery! And for a high school graduation? Wow. Gloves, intricately-detailed and frilly white frocks, almost like wedding dresses. Surely their family had money, and lots of it, unless the clothing was borrowed for the photo. Having lived in Idaho recently, and knowing Idaho culture, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone but the most wealthy owning that sort of clothing in the early 1900s or having their daughters pose in such finery for a school graduation photo. The rich are definitely different from you and me 😉

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    1. That’s a great point, Rebecca. I know almost nothing about Idaho, but it must have been a rough place in 1911. These girls look very refined. And not just their clothes, but also their bearing. They were probably well-read and well-traveled. They probably spoke French or German and played the piano. And they probably didn’t stay in Boise, which was a very small pond at that time.


  5. I have observed that graduation events are sometimes “steeped in tradition”. Perhaps those charming white dresses were a requirement by this Catholic School, as were white dresses (as were accessories) at Spelman College when my daughter graduated in 2016 – even though it was largely covered by a black gown. Stewart

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  6. Those are gorgeous dresses. I had a look at the academy and on much later photos (from 1956) the girls there are wearing similarly splendid dresses. So I would think that there was a tradition there of dressing up to that degree. Have a look:

    Tthe clothing in this photo reminds me of confirmation dresses, from a lot of vintage photos I’ve seen over the years.

    Oh and I wonder if the fabric with raised dots on, in between the frills in the seated girl’s dress, is the same type as some I still have that had belonged to my grandmother. I’m not sure of the fabric, but it is sheer.

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