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Image 'The order of the bath', 1917

TLF ID R2503

This is a black-and-white photograph showing the photographer's wife, Maud Adkin, bathing their daughter, Nancy, in a washing tub on the veranda of their farm, Woodside, near Levin in the Horowhenua (North Island, New Zealand). A wooden chair with a towel draped over it stands behind them and a bar of soap is on the floor next to the tub. The photograph was taken by Leslie Adkin (1888-1964) in November 1917. The negative measures 11.5 cm x 16.5 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows Maud Adkin wearing a simple mid-length day dress covered with a spotted apron - this style of clothing was common day wear for housewives at the time that the photograph was taken.
  • It depicts an aspect of family life in the early 20th century and provides an example of a task performed by women - the role of women as primary caregivers was the norm at this time.
  • It shows that the porch of the Adkin homestead was clad with weatherboards - many New Zealand houses of this era were clad with weatherboards due to the ready availability of wood as a building material.
  • It shows a metal tub, which would have been used for washing clothes as well as children - at this time most bathing occurred in portable tubs and internal plumbing was rare.
  • It is an example of the work of Leslie Adkin, a self-taught scholar and prolific photographer of life in early 20th-century New Zealand whose works include books and papers on geology and Mäori history - his photographs include many of friends and family in a variety of settings, but it was not until the 1970s that the value of Adkin's photographs of people was recognised.
  • It reveals that Leslie Adkin was a very experienced and accomplished photographer (he left behind an archive of at least 4,000 negatives) - the composition and use of light in this photograph clearly show his skill in choosing position of subject and angle.

Other details

  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1917
  • Name: Leslie Adkin
  • Remarks: photographer
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 29 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
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  • Image
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  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements