Primary Source

Photograph of “Indian Tableaux at Endon”

Photo of girls dressed as Indian women. Description in annotation below.


This photograph, which was originally published in the G.F.S. Magazine in September 1923, is from a tableau performed by members of the Girls’ Friendly Society (GFS), which was a youth organization akin to the more popular Girl Guides. Tableaus, pageants, and plays were popular forms of entertainment, especially in the opening decades of the twentieth century, and important fundraisers and instruments for publicity for organizations like the GFS. Importantly, pageants and plays also served as spaces where children could enact gender and racial roles and rehearse future roles, in this case as missionaries. Missionaries—and by extension girls—occupied a central place in the imperial story. In this tableau, girls not only acted as nurses and doctors to Indian women but also assumed the role of Indian women. Performances like this one contrasted the seemingly lowly status of Indian girls and women with the more elevated position of European girls and women and underscored the responsibility of girls to rectify this situation, reinforcing the notions that Indian women needed to be saved by white women. Sources like this photograph provide a useful means to examine the representations of European girls, their idealized roles in the imperial project, and how the imperial context informs constructions of femininity and girlhood.

This source is part of the exploring empire through the lens of childhood and gender teaching module


“Indian Tableaux at Endon,” G.F.S. Magazine, September 1923.

How to Cite This Source

"Photograph of “Indian Tableaux at Endon”," in World History Commons, [accessed April 17, 2024]