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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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The Washday Miracle: 1936

The Washday Miracle: 1936

May 1936. "Wife of farmstead farmer. Kearny, Nebraska." Thanks to my National Vacuum Washer, I barely have to lift a finger come laundry day! Or maybe not. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, Farm Security Administration. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

That's no lye!

Looks like a nice new bar of lye soap ready for use on the washboard.

Rub A Dub Dub

The lady of the house still has her washing machine plugged in, so maybe it will wash, but she has kept her strongarm scrub board for getting things clean.

Kearney, NE

Poor Kearney, its moment in the FSA spotlight, and Rothstein misspells it (and it's pronounced "Carnie," counterintuitively.) I wasn't aware that there were FSA photos from this area of Nebraska--I hope we'll see more of them.

I love the print of her dress--it'd be really popular among the younger generation of quilters that has emerged in the past decade.

Definitely not OSHA-friendly

If I had to use that infernal contraption, I wouldn't smile, either. A farm wife using one of those would be able to sympathize with her husband and the dangers he faced using a tractor and implements, since putting your hand in the wrong place could result in the loss of a finger.


I once rented an old house that came with a wringer washer (not as old as this one though) and opted to use it instead of my automatic just for the sheer fun of it! Mind you I wasn't working outside the home at the time, and had the free time to do this.

Looking at this one though, it's a wonder anything actually came out totally clean. I would have to say that her apron will be the last thing she puts through the washer.

We certainly have things easier for us today!

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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