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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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Tat Mom: 1939

Tat Mom: 1939

        For someone raising a family in a hovel made from tin signs in the city dump, this lady seems to be doing pretty well.

January 1939. "Mother of family on relief living in shanty at city dump. Herrin, Illinois." Seen earlier here. Photo by Arthur Rothstein. View full size.

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She doesn't appear to be a woman of loose moral character.
(my Mother, who is was a teenager at the time of this photo says that back then only circus performers, sailors and women of loose moral character had tattoos!)

"Doing pretty well"

c'mon, you wouldn't have said that to my Mother on the prairies of Saskatchewan in 1938.


I'll take a wild stab and say Kewpie doll.

Multiple Tats

And here I thought that Aunt Mamie (of the comic strip "Moon Mullins") was a caricature. I didn't realize that some women had tats back in the day.

Some things don't change

I live in a city in which a very high percentage of the population is tattooed, and can attest to an awful lot of roses and butterfly tattoos.

Not so many newspaper-lined shacks, though.


At least four. And here I was thinking they were of more modern origin for women. Live and learn.

Doing Her Best

She seems to be a clean, resourceful woman!


For a shack made out of junk, lined with newspaper and located in the city dump, that place is clean, as is her dress and general appearance.

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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