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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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Dr. Clark: 1914

Dr. Clark: 1914

Washington, D.C., 1914. "Dr. Margaret V. Clark." Seen here possibly measuring something. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Be very still

I don't know what she is measuring but I believe it would be best to remain very still while she is doing it.

Blue Book Iowan

From the 1914 Blue Book of Iowa Women:

Dr. Margaret Vampel Clark of Waterloo was born at Pleasant Ridge, Lee county, Iowa. She is the daughter of John Christian Vampel and Clara Sandganger. She received her early education in the public and private schools, receiving her classical education in the University of Wisconsin. Her professional education was received at the Woman's Medical College of New York Infirmary, and Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago. She took post-graduate work in London, Berlin and Vienna. She was ever an ambitious and conscientious student, and as a result is a woman of broad education, as well as having unusual professional knowledge and skill.

Making the Grade

In her home state of Iowa, Dr. Clark and Mrs. Mary T. Watts achieved notoriety by coming up with a supposedly objective formula for grading children based on certain physical attributes. According to a 1913 article in the Woman's Home Companion, her formula included a "cephalic index," measured this way: "multiply width of head by 100 and divide by length. . . . 80 to 85 cephalic heads are preferable." I wonder if her formula gave women extra credit if they took on the appearance of a founding father.

Context Missing

We know nothing of the context of the photo, so for all we know she could be an admirably modern doctor of 1914, indignantly demonstrating the pseudoscientific nonsense of the previous century.


The only thing she could be measuring is skull radius (at the point she's measuring).

Grading on the Curve

The device she's using is for measuring curvature. The outer two pins are rigid and the center is spring loaded. The little indicator shows how much the pin is depressed. These are often calibrated to indicate the radius of a circular curve that would fit the three points.

The big question is why she's measuring the curvature of the boy's skull.

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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