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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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Six Candles: 1918

Six Candles: 1918

Greater Washington circa 1918. "O'Dell, children's party." Anyone have 90 more candles handy? National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

So sober

I can't get over how nobody ever looks happy in these old photos. It makes you wonder if this whole party was really any fun. Let's hope that they at least played some games afterwards that allowed them to laugh. I am not sure that is a little boy at the right end of the table or just a little girl whose mother decided to give her a short haircut. My mother sent me to an Easter party in the 50's wearing pants when all the other girls wore pretty little dresses. I will never forget that day. Not only are the has homemade but it looks like they are stuffed with paper - you can see the stuffing peeking out from under several of the hats.

[That "stuffing" is ribbons or bows in the girls' hair. - Dave]

Just like the Beav!

I'm tickled to see one lone boy near the back of the table - remember the episode of "Leave it to Beaver" where he got invited to an all-girl birthday party?

Also, my best friend's parents have that exact same china closet.

Mars to Dave

I don't expect this to go on the site but the Anonymous Tipster who wrote "Looking at the size of the pipe coming down from the ceiling, and the curved pipe holding each "candle" I believe it is a combo gas/electric fixture" was probably referring to the previous Anonymous Tipster who wrote "A light made for real candles hanging form the ceiling and homemade paper hats, nice!"


The gifts next to the plate were common custom in my family (Pennsylvania Irish-Catholic) that we realized wasn't a custom elsewhere only when we moved to the West Coast when I was a child. My mother had a party for me, and I chose the gifts for the girls attending (small pink bunnies beside their plates). Parents and children were very surprised to get a gift at someone else's birthday party.

I don't know if it's an Irish thing or an Eastern thing.

I personally really enjoyed this picture because it's the year my grandfather was born, and it's wonderful to see what houses were like then, and just before the Great Depression.

[The Depression was over 10 years away in 1918. - Dave]

Party Girls

And they all appear to have little gifts next to their plates -- wonder if they're from the hostess (can't tell which one she is?). I also wonder if it was customary for little girls to wear white to birthday parties! The poor lone boy at the end must be the birthday girl's brother.

Candles or?

Looking at the size of the pipe coming down from the ceiling, and the curved pipe holding each "candle" I believe it is a combo gas/electric fixture. Similar to the one in my grandparents' parlor here:
The "candles" are probably ceramic fixtures.

[Earth to Mars: The candles are on the birthday cake. - Dave]

Ninety More Candles, Hmm...

Dave, I've wracked my brain and scoured the photo, and can't figure out the "ninety more candles" allusion.


[The photo was taken 90 years ago. She'd be 90 candles older now. Diabolically complicated, wasn't it. - Dave]

Party Dresses

Good old days -- again. An occasion for minding your manners and not getting your dress dirty. Like everything else, times have changed. For good or for bad is up to the beholder.


Yes, and real cloth napkins tucked neatly beneath the chin.


Pretty somber group. I hope things lightened up for these kids.

Homemade hats

A light made for real candles hanging from the ceiling and homemade paper hats, nice!

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