A Pang of Nostalgia for Times Never Lived

Recently I ran across a collection of beautiful photographs which show a young Tasha Tudor with her family and children, taken by Nell Dorr in the 1940s for the latter’s book Mother and Child (which is sadly no longer in print). We just purchased Pumpkin Moonshine for Fay to honor autumn and Halloween, so I’m reveling in the sweet coincidence of discovering these pictures of the illustrator so soon after being introduced to her work.

I saved a few of my favorites to share with you, if you’d like to take a look…

Tasha Tudor 1940 child nursing
Tasha Tudor 1940 child standing on chair

I love old photographs. The great ones often have a funny way of making you feel nostalgic for a time and place you never experienced, don’t they?

I am such a dreamer and love history, so I’ve always felt there should be a word for this feeling. In writing this post, I did a quick Google search for this exact description, and I found that apparently I’m not the only one who has felt this!

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows creator, John Koenig, invented the word anemoia, writing:

“Looking at old photos, it’s hard not to feel a kind of wanderlust—a pang of nostalgia for times you’ve never experienced. The desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future, whose battered shoes are anchors locked fast in the fantasy that none of it risks turning out any other way but the way it happened.”

Beautiful and spot on, no?

Tasha Tudor 1940 nursing baby
Tasha Tudor 1940 dressing in her bedroom

It’s simultaneously odd and fascinating to experience a specific feeling so intensely and then discover others who share it.

In addition to anemoia, looking through these photos also fills me with a strange melancholy, comfort, desire to buy a farmhouse, and an insatiable need to give my baby girl a long, lingering hug.

(Images are property of Nell Dorr, found on the blog Vintage where you can read more about Tasha Tudor and see additional photographs from the Mother and Child publication here.)

3 thoughts on “A Pang of Nostalgia for Times Never Lived

  1. Lovely photos. I feel this kind of nostalgia in old buildings or historical vignettes. I’m thinking of Napoleon’s apartments at the Louvre, or the Jeffrey’s tube at the Museum of pop culture! lol! :P


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