This is from a very faded print. With a little work it's a perfectly fine image, though I'm not sure what is going on. Are those shepherd's staffs? Fortunately we know the photographer, W.E. Neff, who operated in Hood River circa 1893. We also know the names of most of the girls. The names confirm this is likely downtown Hood River.
(Left to right)(rear) Mrs. Jackson, Olive Hartley. Back row: Theresa Morse, Mattie Mays, Nellie Olinger, Alva Markley, Nannie Merser, Cora Mays, Bertha Markley, unknowns. (front row) Della Watson, Maud Gilbert, Fay LaFrance, Mary Wolford, Carrie Shute, Emily Palmer, unknown, Madge Warren.
Update: I found this article in the April 24, 1894 Hood River Glacier describing the event:
The Shepherdesses: Last Friday evening proved beyond question that the armory hall is not too far out of town when there is anything attractive on hand. In spite of a rainy evening, about 200 gathered to the entertainment given by the young people of the M. E. church. The feature of the evening was the "shepherdess drill" given by sixteen young ladies, who, under the leadership of Miss Hartley, have been preparing for some time. The participants performed the difficult evolutions of the drill in perfect time and without mistake. The rest of the programme was well rendered, and everybody went home feeling they had been well repaid for attending. Receipts of evening, $33. One Who Was There.
Category: [Downtown Hood River]
Those aren't actual shepherd staffs. The hook had to be large enough to go around a sheep's neck. They were used to catch sheep.
I wonder if it is a religious organization. The staff is often used as a symbol.
L.E. on 30th November 2020 @ 7:41am
Maybe this was their set of costumes for a parade? Looks like blossoms on the tree behind them but no leaves?
Kyle on 30th November 2020 @ 10:04am
I think that Alva and Bertha are relatives of mine. Their family moved to Hood River in 1888. Alva was born in 1876, and she died 1895, which should confirm a general idea of when the photo was taken. Bertha was born in 1878, got married in 1896, and she primarily lived with her husband and family in California.
Doug Henne on 30th November 2020 @ 10:36am
I was thinking this may be from some sort of school or church Easter pageant, or perhaps the graduating class picture from Little Miss Bo Peep's Finishing School? It looks like long hair was the popular style for girls back in that day.
kmb on 30th November 2020 @ 11:15am
May Day was a popular event with girls chosen to be in a 'court' and weave
through a May Pole activity..THey often had matching dresses for such an
activity. It was an honor to be chosen to be in the May Pole activity.
(Sounds like a leftover of fertility rites of the old days!)
nails on 30th November 2020 @ 11:41am
It turns out we have a second copy of this image with some additional notes on it. The second copy is labeled "Sheppardess Drill" and indicates Dr. Olive Hartley was the instructor, and Mrs. Jackson was the musician. It also identifies the "unknown" in the first row as Letty Shute.
Kyle is correct that one of the trees is in bloom with no leaves yet. I wish I could find a familiar building but I can't be quite sure where we are.
ArthurB on 30th November 2020 @ 5:17pm
Turns out our sleuthing was pretty good. The event was in April, 1894 at the armory on the outskirts of town. I've updated the notes with the Glacier letter to the editor on the subject.
ArthurB on 30th November 2020 @ 5:40pm
Kyle on 1st December 2020 @ 8:58am