The girl with the letter A


April 11, 2013 by kittynh

I have been going through stacks of old family photographs, many of which I have only a vague guess at the name of the person depicted.

It has been great fun to come across if not a familiar name, than a familiar nose or chin.  I see both my daughters and my mother and grandmother in many of these photographs.

In the midst of a pile of very small and fragile tintypes, I came across this slightly angry young woman wearing the letter A.  I have many atheist friends who proudly wear their letter “A” on scarves and necklaces, but I had to laugh, as this young relative appears just the type to wear a letter “A”.


I’m sure she’s probably just named something “A”, though no one can remember an “A” name for this time period.  My own daughter is named “Aynsley”, and this young woman appears to have the same feisty manner as my “A” child.

However, there is a part of me, knowing our family history of strong women, that thinks perhaps this “A” stood for atheist, just as it does for so many today.  If nothing else, she is quite tired of having her  photograph taken thank you, and obviously has better things to do than pose for the camera.


She seems almost an early suffragette for the Atheists, and so I gave her a bit of a red tint, to show that like most women of the time she’s ready for some change!

(please anyone feel free to use the photograph, I think it’s worth sharing and I’m not one that needs credit.  The photographer and poser are long dead and not in any case likely to object!)

It should be noted, I’ve not embraced being an atheist, though am open to argument.  I’m finding the best definition for myself a Thomas Paine style Deist.  (I’m working on a blog about him, and finding a lot in common).

One thought on “The girl with the letter A

  1. Maybe you’re projecting your own thoughts onto this girl. The first thing that occurred to me was The Scarlet Letter, in which, of course, “A” stood for something else entirely. The Scarlet Letter was written in 1850. I have to think “A” for Atheist is a much more recent thing…

    She seems too young to be an adulteress, though; so perhaps, as you say, it was just an initial.

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