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About the Photos

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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Hi Mom: 1949

Hi Mom: 1949

Anchor Insurance Co. in Los Angeles circa 1949. My parents met here -- Mom is on the right just behind the gent in the dark coat. View full size.

First 555 PBX

Western's first 555 was installed in 1952. This model had manual extensions. The 556 was created for businesses with dial extensions.

For "Flashback"

It's hard to believe our first days in an office in 1979 was closer in time to this picture than to today.

Flashback

When I first started working in an office in 1979, it looked very much like this. Rows and rows of desks - pre-cubicle days for sure. This was back in the days when we referred to our superiors and co-workers as Mr., Mrs. or Miss and whatever their last name was. We still had to wear dresses and skirts with HOSE for sure!

My Mom

worked for the Maryland Casualty Company on the tenth floor of the Frank Leu building in Montgomery Alabama. As I was born in 1946 her office was a little later than this one.

She had a wooden desk with a foldup typewriter. You would pull on the front of the desk and the typewriter would come up and the top went into the desk.

I remember playing with the Dicktaphone disks when I would visit her at work. They were the first true "Floppy disks". About the size of a 45 rpm phonograph record but about the thickness of a real floppy.

Innocent times.

Working women

Plenty of working women in this office in 1949. Proves the perception that it's a modern thing wrong.

Sense of Community

Ah, the days before we were all walled off into little cubes.

Grey suits?

They're only grey because it's a black and white photo!

As a colouriser I would definitely be looking at doing some of them as tones of brown or blue as well as black and grey (50 shades of probably) - particularly Mr Tweedy at the left front.

The Men In The Grey Flannel Suits

Well probably not flannel, but still it makes it very easy to find LorenzoB's mom when the "landmark" is the only man in the whole office wearing a black (or navy) jacket while every other man is in fashionable grey.

Search Engine

Those big binders were the way you Googled something you needed to know.

Niche Market

How much does it cost to insure an anchor anyway?

When I think of Insurance Offices of this era

I have a much different impression of what they looked like.

I notice the gent in the dark coat is using a Dictaphone device, confessing something perhaps?

Switchboard

That's a Western Electric 555 PBX. There's a working one installed at the Hotel Congress in Tucson, if you want to experience it firsthand.

Classic Office Scene

The pushbutton flip-top address book on the switchboard cabinet looks like a prop out of Mad Men.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
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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