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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 • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Mary Hoover: 1925

Mary Hoover: 1925

Washington, D.C., 1925. "Miss Mary B. Hoover." No further clues as to the significance of this person. [This just in: Miss Hoover is "an authority on the proper fitting of Children's shoes."] View full size. National Photo Company.

 

Fascinating...

What fascinates me about this and many of these 100-ish year old photos is the 'coarseness' of life. Look how rough and ill-fitting the clothes are. Look at the frayed, slept-on hair. The sad, baggy, wrinkled eyes. The forced attempt at a smile. Everything back then looked so... difficult. Like it was difficult to wake, to toil, to live. We with our tailored, micro-fiber accoutrements, our cell phones and our 300-horsepower cars have no idea what it was like to live rough, dirty, industrial lives. I'd give my left arm for a time machine, to go back and spend a week with this woman -- any of these people from the late 19th, early 20th century, for that matter. It reeks of romance on the surface, but the hard, callused underbelly of this life is often overlooked. It seems difficult to believe they could eek out any bit of happiness then. But they also didn't have the burden of computer-enhanced workloads, over-communication from the Internet and other trappings of the information age, fears of environmental collapse and overpopulation. I still believe we have a better life, but do we?

What do I know? I'm only 40 and don't know much about history. Fascinating, though. I love this site and lileks.com. Great stuff.

NerveBag

J.Edgar

"Edgar G." is "J. Edgar", of course, my tongue slipped. But a quick search showed that I'm not the only one to make that mistake.
Ray B.

Unmarried

If she was definitely a Miss, there is little chance that she was whether Mrs; Leavitt and Herbert's sister, or, as i suggested, Edgar G.'s mom.

[Who is "Edgar G." - Dave]

Miss Hoover

Here is Mary B. Hoover, the same photo in fact, from the November 2, 1925, Washington Post.

[Oh my goodness. You are amazing, Pluckysparrow! - Dave]

A guess

In 1925, Mary Blanche Hoover Leavitt, the sister of the Secretary of Commerce (and future president) Herbert Hoover, would have been 48 or 49. The only newspaper photo I could find of her is a poor one (taken as she disembarked from a train for her brother's 1928 inauguration) which doesn't prove or disprove that it is her. She was married to Mr. Leavitt and probably living in California then, but it's still plausible that it's her.

 
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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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