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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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Before and After: 1918

Before and After: 1918

New York. October 5, 1918. "Army students' quarters, Columbia University." 5x7 glass negatives, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

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The shape of things that were

No shape - it was just a result of mind-wandering. They are probably students in the Student Army Training Corps. I believe in some universities, every student was required to be a member. These men are, or would soon be Doughboys and could have participated in some of those creative works of Mole & Thomas.

Mole & Thomas

This reminded me of the Mole & Thomas photographs of military personnel in shapes of the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, etc. I've seen a few, but never up close. Do you have any to post on your site?

[I have seen them, but only as low-resolution images in the LOC archive. So what are our Army-Columbia boys in the shape of? - Dave]

You stand here, the water goes there

My urologist has a device that looks very much like that bowl-and-pail stand that the two men are leaning over.

[Also known as a washstand. - Dave]


Is this some kind of early extended isolation experiment, shot through a peephole?

The two guys on the right are very snuggly together.


Yes, but WHAT exactly are they doing? Anyone?

[Baffling, isn't it. - Dave]


And in the third frame, they're eating S'mores and painting their toenails.


After seeing so many pictures like this from many 80-90 years ago, I'm struck most frequently by the style and construction of men's shoes. What they wore then would seem to be snug and well-fitting, given the number of lace eyelets, and maybe they were sturdy, given that they were leather — but if you suddenly wanted to run someplace, it seems like you'd be terribly hampered by their stiffness and the slick soles. It makes me want to go back in time and give all the lads pairs of Nikes, Adidas, etc. (Thank you for reading my odd musing...)

A slippery slope

This is how Leopold and Loeb got started.

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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