The look on the little girl in the middle kills me, what a cute expression from a baby over 150 years ago!
The girls from left to right are: Gertrude, Roberta, and Mabel Hubbard. The Hubbard family was a prominent American family from Massachusetts. In particular the little girl on the right is the most well-known; Mabel ended up marrying Alexander Graham Bell. Scarlet fever caused Mabel to lose her hearing at age 5 and her parents made sure she was well educated. They helped to open a school for the deaf which taught students to talk (and not just sign) which was a revolution at the time in the schooling of deaf children. The girls as adults are known by their married names of Gertrude Hubbard Grossman, Roberta Hubbard Bell, and Mabel Hubbard Bell.
It’s neat how you can trace someone’s life from infancy to adulthood, even though they lived more than a century and half ago. The letters Mabel and her husband sent to each other are quite numerous and show a couple that joked with each other, debated intellectual subjects, and who were genuinely interested in each other’s lives. Here’s page two of a ten-page letter from 1875, sent from Alexander to Mabel before they were married. Alexander teases his wife (jokingly, in order to goad a response out of her) for supporting women’s rights:
“I never suspected that you were one of these people who think women have rights. Do you actually suppose their wishes are to be considered with the same respect as those of men?”