Biseri | Silvia Josephine Zele

Silvia Josephine Zele

Resource 1: Mail Order Brides from Slovenia too!

Family photos are remarkable in that they are a touching visual link to the past and a family’s personal history. In 2007, I answered a request from the USA to translate text on the back of some old photos and was absolutely fascinated by the story that one of them contained.

In the first third of the 1900s, life was extremely hard for single women in the villages of Slovenia. In some places, there was a shortage of men, which had a huge impact on the quality of life of the women. Some men had died, or they had moved to bigger cities or migrated to other countries in search of work and a brighter future. The prospect for women without husbands and children was bleak, so some were prepared to migrate under extraordinary circumstances: as mail order brides. Some were prepared to marry men they either did not know, or barely knew, on the recommendation of others.

This is a translation of what is written on the back of this photo which was sent to the USA (I have not made corrections to the original grammar), unfortunately, there is no date, but it was probably written between 1910 and 1920.

Here is a photo of the Hutenske Firefighters’ Festival with 8 females to choose from and if you know one and you are not satisfied with this, I can send another [photo] as there are currently many young and old, pretty and ugly in our village whatever kind you want and if you want to get one you must come yourself to get her. Regards from MN

The photo is from a family collection belonging to descendants of Marija Logar Birtič, date of birth 20 August 1884, Hotedrščica, Slovenia, and her husband, Janez Birtič, date of birth 26 October 1884, at Stara Vrhnika 49, Slovenia. Thanks to their granddaughter, Patty Cornaby, for granting permission to publish the photo and the text. It is not known for sure, for whom the letter was intended.