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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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Old School: 1935

Old School: 1935

December 1935. "Tier of outhouses by the old schoolhouse. Hamilton County, Ohio." Photo by Carl Mydans, Resettlement Administration. View full size.

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The Great Outdoors

My grandfather had a two-holer outhouse behind his garage in Reno County, Kansas, until the 1960s. Even though he had put in a bathroom when they moved in in 1945, he still used the privy when coming in from the fields, as he didn't want to get the bathroom dirty. There was also a sink for washing on the back porch, for the same reason. In 1960-61, my father tore down and remodeled our house in Reno County. We had no bathroom for 3 or 4 months. They had an outhouse out in a row of trees that had been dragged out there when they put in plumbing after the war. My mother went out there, swept out the dirt and wasps' nests, and hung a roll of toilet paper in it. We used it until my father rebuilt the house. God, was it cold and dark in the winter.

Some schools still use them today.

While on an antiquing trip I drove past an Amish school in upstate New York last month. There were two outhouses, albeit with good Amish carpentry, outside.

Outhouses...or iceboxes?

December? Wow, imagine how cold they must have been.

Not by half

It's not a true outhouse if (1) it has a toilet more elaborate than a hole in a rough plank, (2) the deposits go into anything but a pit filled with many years' accumulation of similar contributions, (3) the aroma of same doesn't set fire to your nasal hairs, and (4) there isn't a huge, active wasp nest in the eaves. (Corncob/catalogue TP is also implied).

These seem to me to be akin to the 'Loos in the Garden characteristic of old British council and workers' housing: uncomfortable, perhaps, but a real leg (or butt) up for their users.

Those good old days

Walking to School in the snow, uphill, then having to face this.

The other half

I think the locked doors are the executive washrooms.

Never Mind

I'll go behind a tree, thank you.

I can wait until I get home

Whenever I wonder how much better life must have been in the old days I always get back to thinking about how miserable the bathroom situation must have been back then.

Memories of Early Schooling

At the Shrewsbury Elem. School (southern York County, Pa.), we still had outhouses in 1st & 2nd grade, 1953-54.The summer between 2nd&3rd grades, we got a modern addition that included a cafeteria and indoor flushing toilets....just hated those outhouses!

SHORPY OLD 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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