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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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On the Fence: 1939

On the Fence: 1939

1939. An uncaptioned portrait possibly of photographer John Vachon's wife, Millicent (Penny) Leeper. 35mm nitrate negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

A Penny thought

Presumably Ms. Leeper was nicknamed "Penny" as short for Milli-CENT.


The combination of a talented photographer and a striking subject knows no decade, century or millenium. Wonder if either of them thought at that moment that, 72 years hence, we'd still be admiring their work. Thanks for this one, Dave.

Beautiful Shot!

The natural pose, the flowers and the interesting angles. Love it!

Big Toe

I hope that boo-boo has healed by now.

No commercial for you

I am stuck on store-brand adhesive bandages, 'cause store-brand adhesive bandages are stuck on me.

A penny for Penny's thoughts

Maybe she ought to have stubbed out her smoking habit as effectively as she appears to have stubbed her toe; maybe her shirt pocket was her only pocket.

Surely one so elegant and at ease can be forgiven her peccadilloes, though, for providing such a super picture as she sits deep in thought in that meadow.


This is the spitting image of someone I once knew, who is probably about 60 years younger than the model in this photograph. Nostalgia compelled me to click the "colorize" button on my viewer (along with the "correct minor scan glitches" button). Sorry for the interruption, please continue browsing.

(Click for full-size, if you're so inclined.)

Multiple angles

There are so many angles in the picture, wooden, arms, and legs. I wonder what hurt her right great toe? A great photograph.

In her hand

Is that a cable release that I see? Was she doing something with her own camera at the time or is that just a prop?

[Note the gear visible through the crook in her arm. This one of about half a dozen shots, none of them self-portraits. - Dave]

I didn't notice the "gear visible through the crook of her arm," or more accurately I didn't recognize it as photographic equipment (I thought it was part of the fence). Nevertheless, her use of a cable release on her own camera doesn't necessarily mean that she was doing a self-portrait. Even if she were doing a self-portrait it would not necessarily be included in a group of shots taken by another photographer.

Hubba Hubba!

Now THAT's a dame! Band-aid on the big toe from stubbing it on the clutch and a pack of smokes at the ready. Regardless, this photo could have been taken yesterday.


The one thing that I notice first about this photo is the cigarettes in her shirt pocket. I know smoking was much more common back then, but women usually did not carry a pack around in their shirt pocket. That is where men carried their cigarettes.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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