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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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Pails in Comparison: 1939

Pails in Comparison: 1939

September 1939. Children's lunch pails wait for their owners in a rural Wisconsin schoolhouse. View full size. Photograph by John Vachon.

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Today's Top 5

re:I *DO* love the lone paper bag

Wouldn't that be the richest kid in the class ... they could afford to use disposable items or went to the store often.

Re: Vachon Schoolhouse

The caption cards for these school photos don't record a location, but it's between pictures taken in Fennimore and Boscobel.

Location of Schoolhouse

I've seen other photos of this rural Wisconsin schoolhouse taken by Vachon and one of these days I plan to track down its exact location . . . was somewhere in southwest Wisconsin based on Vachon's travels through the area in 1939. I'm sure the schoolhouse is long gone but I think it would be fun to locate its site and see what is there today.

I *DO* love the lone paper bag...

...and my first thought was that it either belonged to the poorest kid in the class or the teacher, neither of whom could afford a pail!

Paper bag

All those lunch boxes and pails, you got to love the lone paper bag.

Advertising Opportunity Lost

No cartoon characters on those lunch pails? How did those kids live?


Part of my Shorpy joy comes from the captions...and another part from the comments. And to think I first started coming here for the photos alone!


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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