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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FRENCH BICYCLE GODDESS, c. 1898

Hello, Doily: 1952

Hello, Doily: 1952

Another slide from Set 2 of found 35mm Kodachromes. On the wall, a September 1952 calendar; on the floor, an Indianapolis phone book. At the right, a projection screen where perhaps this very slide was shown after being developed. In the kitchen: many little decorative decals on the cabinet doors. View full size.

Tumblers!

My grandmother had a set of those red and yellow glass tumblers (complete with matching pitcher) just like the one next to the decaled breadbox. What memories!

The details

My mother used to spread newspapers after she mopped and I thought she was the only one who ever did that. The live plants are interesting. The tall one is what my mother called "Mother-in-law's tongue". I do not know what the lower one is called but I had one for years. When it bloomed it was a star shaped flower that stank like rotten meat. We had to set it outside until the bloom was gone. While outside the flies were drawn to it in masses. (They were not normal house flies either.)

Newspapers on the floor...

... may indicate a recent mopping. My mother always spread out a walkway of newspapers across the kitchen linoleum while it dried. Source: my memories from this very era.

Aluminum tumblers

My grandparents had those too, and we had a set - probably purchased at the same time by Mom or Grandma. The were a big part of my early memories. And they were perfect for freezing the remaining part of the too-big chocolate shakes I made still make. They're being made again nowadays (they're retro, ya know). Here's one place. Just google "aluminum tumblers" for other hits.

Midcentury Modern

I'm with JMiller. I always wished someone in our family had gone in for the whole "Modern" thing back then.

We currently live in the house in the picture, minus the knickknacks, but including Grandma's furniture, which was tastefully reupholstered in the 1980's. (OK, a house just like it, with the kitchen door removed, horizontal blinds, original cabinets.)

The not-a-clock

At first I thought Cosman was right, that it was one of the humidity detectors/weather predictor knickknacks that were so popular back in the day. But there's a 3rd figure, a black one on the very right, so I guess these are just figurines. They look like Ultraman, though.

I keep coming back to this photo. I can't get enough of the details. I can't get over how her watch and phone and 1920s-era carpets look just like my grandma's did, and I love those nifty red plastic bits on the kitchen cabinet handles, and how bright and new everything looks. You see this stuff in thrift stores and antique shops nowadays and it's all faded, and it's so hard to remember how ity must have looked new.

Just like home!

I could be ten years old again and this could be my own grandmother talking on the phone in my own home! O my lord, the couch covered by the slipcover covered by a doily!! Thanks for sharing this with me. I just love it! This site brings back such great memories -- Keep up the good work!

Wish I could reach into this photo...

I'd love to have the curtains, the clock radio, the snake plant in the green planter, the telephone, the crazy upholstered chair...and that green anodized aluminum tumbler to the left of the kitchen sink!

Telephone

That's a Western Electric Model 302 telephone in the photo. They were in general service from the mid-late 1930's until probably the late 1950's early 60's in rural areas. I have one on the counter in my kitchen dated 1938 and it works great with my VOIP. Try that with a Vtech phone 70 years from now...

MidCentury Not-So-Modern

In spite of all of our Eames-fueled fantasies about what interiors in the 'fifties looked like, I am sure more looked like this than most mid-century decor fans would like to admit!

Keep Your Photos!

This photo is a fascinating time capsule. All the little details are so interesting.

I'm sure that shortly after this photo was taken it was not particularly interesting. Just "Grandma on the phone." Next!

This is why I keep every non-blurry photo I take. You never know what may be interesting in the future!

This entire site reinforces the idea that we need to take care to back up and maintain our digital photos as carefully as we did with our prints. Otherwise, whatever passes for Shorpy.com in the year 2100 will have nothing to show!

The "Clock" thing

I think this was supposed to predict the weather. I had one when I was a child and it moved the red figure out for dry weather and the blue one out for wet weather. Looks like it was maybe cloudy or changing. It was a crude barometer with what my father said was a "Cat gut" that was dried and twisted to move the figures in or out as the humidity changed.

Wow...

...this could've been MY grandmother's house! My grandma used newspapers to "protect" her kitchen floors as well...seems like they were more of a slipping hazard than anything.

"Wall Clock"

Thermometer?

Wall clock

Are those plastic cowboy and indian figures standing on the front of the clock hanging by the kitchen door?

[Not a clock. - Dave]

What Month?

If the month shown on the bottom right of the calendar is September 1952, then I believe the calendar would be opened to August 1952, since the preceding and following months are displayed on the lower left and lower right corners respectively on this type of calendar. I just can not make out the writing.

[That's October at the bottom. - Dave]

Love it!

This is one of my all-time favorite photos from here. What a glimpse into the past. I think the funniest thing is the newspaper on the floor.

I'm thankful sensible shoes have become a little more, um, stylish!

Hello?

I love the phone on the phone book.

[Let's not forget the couch covered with a slipcover, covered with a doily! - Dave]

Grandma?

So it was 6:50 too. I have an antique clock with that same dial and a similar teardrop shape. As for Grandma--snake plant and cacti? Check. Doilies? Check. Tacky frog and flower or similar knickknack/ashtray? Check. Flowered curtains? Sensible shoes? Bizarre upholstery? Triple check. Kitchen glasses with rings/stripes? Ivy plant in kitchen? Bread safe with strange decal? Oh yes to all. Dark weird rugs plus newspaper down as a backup? True.

She appears to be coming in or leaving, as she has on what looks like a velvet hat and has a coat draped over the chair. Otherwise this room is a time capsule.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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