Hundred-Year-Old Smile

Posted by Ellen

We know four small facts about the life of this boy, David Leung.

1. He was born in 1893 in San Francisco.

2. In 1911, he was photographed by eccentric New England art photographer F. Holland Day; like millions of American children of that era, young David wore a sailor suit for his portrait, but unlike all the millions of others, he actually smiled for the camera.

3. When he registered for the draft in World War I, David listed his residence as Manchester, New Hampshire, and wrote that he was of Mongolian descent.

4. In 1920, census-takers found David Leung living in Boston and working as a restaurant manager.

The photographer, F. Holland Day, was probably the leading American photographer of the early twentieth century and the first to pursue photography as an artistic endeavor. He was also fascinated by the immigrants then flooding American cities and spent much of his time with immigrant children, photographing them but also reading to them and tutoring them. He mentored a number of children in Boston, notably a Lebanese boy named Kahlil Gibran.