19th Century Student Drag Queens

'As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking' - Virginia Woolf (Orlando)

Tartu University Estonia drag students

 

Any excuse for men to dress as women is gleefully taken. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, male students at Estonia’s Tartu University dressed as women. These drag queens then took a ride or walked to have their portraits taken at the local photography studio. The sitters were uninitiated members of the university’s fraternity. They dressed a women for roles in entertaining plays (it says here). The roles were part of an initiation procedure in which, one supposes, all-male groups discovered which of their number was most like a girl and thus best suited to a career in politics, the clergy and the Trans-Baikal railways. The photographs  were available as cartes de visite, to be purchased by students, audiences and admirers of the fairer sex.

 

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Drag Queen: Ferdinand Hörschelmann
1855-1931, studied theology from 1876-1882, pastor and teacher of religion in Crimea

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Drag Queen: Johannes Adolphi –
1862-1944, studied medicine from 1882-1887, physician, working mostly on different Chinese and the Trans-Baikal railways

Tartu University Estonia drag students

From the play „The Sunken Bell“

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Drag Queens: Axel Taube & Alex Peters
Baron Axel Taube (1856-1917) studied law, chemistry and political economy from 1875-1879, estate owner, director of the Türi paper factory
Alexander Peters (1854-1918) studied philology and history from 1872-1882, teacher, librarian in the library of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Drag Queen: Edmund Fischer
1852-1920, studied philology and political economy from 1873-1881, chancelor at the Consulate General of Austria-Hungary in St. Petersburg

Estonia drag students

Drag Queen: George von Gersdorff
1856-1923, studied economics and political economy, estate owner and judge, counselor of the Livonian Knighthood from 1905-1920

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Drag Queen: Max von Middendorff
1861-1926, studied medicine from 1880-1888, eye doctor in Tallinn

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Drag Queen: Konstantin Winkler
1848-1922, studied medicine and botany from 1867-1874, teacher, aid to the director of the Botanical Garden of Tartu, later worked at the St. Petersburg Botanical Gardens

Tartu University Estonia drag students

Drag Queen: Friedrich von Wolff
1860-1920, studied law from 1879-1884, owner of the Zaķumuiža estate

Tartu University Estonia drag students

From the opera „Oberon and Titania’s Diamond Wedding“

Via: National Archives of Estonia