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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORWAY IN SEPTEMBER, c. 1920s

Shipshape: 1910

Shipshape: 1910

Circa 1910. "Gunston Hall, Virginia." The "Gibson Girl on a Cruise" look predominating here. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

More Gunston girls

Can be seen here on Shorpy. This photo was taken five years previously and some of the girls were actually smiling. Note the difference in hairstyles in this earlier photo.

Women of high morals

In the mid-1800's and through the Gibson girl era, wearing one's hair long and flowing was considered a sign of loose morals. Prostitutes wore their hair hanging down. It would be another ten years until the flappers bobbed their hair, so these women all have hair that has never (or only slightly) been cut. They can't wear it hanging down and be considered respectable ladies.

Though I did not come along until the 1960s, I was warned by elderly women about the sin of wearing my hair down and being thought loose. They always coaxed me to tie it back. And I watched my grandmother (born in the 1890s -- the same age range as these girls) stand over the toilet bowl, which her hair could touch, and twist it into just such a style, when she dressed in the morning.

It was the fashion of the day, but it was also practical when you had three feet of hair to deal with. Except when she was combing it, I never saw that grandmother's hair down from on top of her head.

Non-uniform uniforms

It looks like buckles were "fielders choice." Handsome young ladies, would love to know their stories. They're all SO serious.

Robert Palmer

"Addicted to Love" video.

Zowie!

Them's some pretty girls! Looks like a young Claire Danes in the center front row.

Tesla coil

That's the only possible explanation for some of those hairdos.

How do you tie a scarf?

My first impression was that of a group of identically dressed girls, with similar hairstyles (why did women grow their hair long, then wear it up as shown in this photo?). I found their eyes to be surprisingly unexpressive for lovely young women. Then I noticed the scarves and the different ways they were tied - a bit of individualism in 1910 society.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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