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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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Porta-Privy: 1938

Porta-Privy: 1938

August 1938. "Privy on wheels for use of field workers at the King Farm near Morrisville, Pennsylvania." Why Mother always made you wash your hands, and your vegetables. Medium format negative by John Vachon. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Double security

It appears that you are able to lock the door closed from both the inside and the outside. That must have resulted in some good laughs amongst the workers.

Shades of Humphrey Pennyworth!

In the old Joe Palooka newspaper strips and comic books, his sidekick Humphrey Pennyworth often got about on a tricycle with what appeared to be a privy attached.


As a crotchety old man, I don't often laugh out loud at the stuff we see on the internet these days, but Dave, your comment on this Shorpy picture did the job.

Last week's issue of Farm Journal

when you have to get the paperwork done.


Definitely bee(a)ts the alternative, unlimbering between the rows.

Progress is where one finds it.

No s--t!

It never occurred to me that such a thing might have existed! Dig a trench and roll the porta-privy over the trench, and voila! Convenience! And, tear up some magazines or newspapers, throw the pieces on the floor, and a full-service privy is ready for business.

Paper on floor

Reminds me of the old joke. Farmer sends a letter to Sears ordering toilet paper. Sears wright's back he needs to order from their catalog. He responds, if I had the catalog I wouldn't need the toilet paper!

Reading matter provided

or, perhaps the newspaper is for a completely different purpose?


Gives new meaning to the phrase! If you know what I mean?


Must have been unpleasant to have to use that especially in hot weather as it hasn't got a roof to help keep flies and other nasties out.

Thanks but no thanks

I'd rather go squat behind that tree than use this thing.

The Roof Leaks - a Lot

Pretty crappy when it rained.

Humans are pigs far too often

Many years ago an old boss of mine, who had traveled the world, latched onto the subject of public washrooms, in a conversation we had. He said he had eaten in some of the fanciest restaurants with all those stars listed after their names.

Yet he revealed that when he found it necessary to use their lavatories, he was sickened by their filthy conditions in far too many instances.

This biffy, out in the open to be used by field workers,
has not been left in very sanitary condition.

I spent a quarter-century of my working years cleaning public washrooms, so I know whereof I speak. Due to these experiences, I always clean up after myself after using a public bathroom with the understanding someone else will be using this convenience after I depart.

Therefore, the condition of this outdoor toilet does not shock me, sadly.

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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