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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.

© 2016 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Office Xmas Party: 1925

Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's the Friday before Christmas, which means it's time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Xmas Party! Which has been going on for 90 years now. Will Clarence in Sales ever get up the nerve to ask out Hermione from Accounting? Is there gin in that oilcan? Ask the bear.

Washington, D.C., 1925. "Western Electric Co. group." There are enough little dramas playing out here to keep the forensic partyologists busy until Ground Hog Day. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


Re: Seek and ye shall find . . . GO!

Jim Page - I had to badge my way past security and up the elevator before I was stopped by the secured door.

Seek and ye shall find . . . GO!

TimeAndAgainPhoto, that's a great job of investigating one of our favorites, but I'm convinced that if you'll just badge your way into that office, you'll find a fellow in there with a traffic signal on his head.

I hope so, anyway.


Using John J's sleuthing on the location of this office, I recently ventured there to see if any resemblance to the photo remains. I got as far as the only door in the hall on that floor. Nothing appeared to remain.

Afterlife Office Party

This photograph has become a holiday tradition for me, as anticipated as my Christmas eve tradition of baking cookies, wrapping gifts and gently placing a dish towel under Uncle Trouble's chin so he doesn't drool on his good shirt after passing out on the couch.

Scanning the full-screen photo, I wonder if a small corner of the afterlife might be populated by tenants doomed to spend eternity at a perpetual office Christmas party for some workplace sin like stealing lunches from the office fridge, pilfering office supplies, or failing to replace paper or toner in the printer. I can picture Dickensian clarks with ink-stained fingers forever mingling over paper-cupped eggnog with 60's swinging secretaries, Old Kingdom robed Egyptian scribes trimming the tree with bored mid-level Qing Dynasty bureaucrats, and that impenetrable knot of young IT guys and gals speaking in that techno-babble, side-eyeing the boss, forever giggling.

I imagine the mirthless rounds of the eternal white elephant gift exchange: the Take Me to the River-singing fish going round and round and round the conference table ad infinitum. I can see the everlasting greasy pile of stale taquitos, timeless sips from the bottle of booze hidden in the file cabinet, Starbucks Christmas Jazz CD playing in an endless loop -- the horror.

Goober Pea

Life of the party

My best guess for "life of the party" status goes to the lady in front with elf buckles on her shoes. I love this image- there so much detail and depth of relational perspective.

Marching In Place

Seeing this picture so many times tells me that I'm growing older but these celebrants have become ageless. Along with that piece of wisdom allow me to add my Seasonal Greetings for a Merry Christmas, a joyous Hanukkah Past and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to all. Of course we are all in the debt of Dave,Ken and tterrace (who may or may not be on the Payroll) for their addictive posts, explanations and comment rebuttals.

From NYC, where the Christmas Eve Fahrenheit is forecasted at 72º.


[tterrace is salaried, deals in a service and is bigger than a bread box. -John Charles Daly]

P. D. Police Dept.

I keep being intrigued by the one and only joker in the crowd, our lady with the "P.D. Police ...." hat. There must be another word after "Police," I suppose it is just "Dept."

Never noticed this before

The men's jackets have creases running the length of the arms. I wonder if this was a customary thing for "the office" or typical treatment "of the times" for pressing? Perhaps this treatment was typical only of a worsted fabric?

Nothing but the best at Shorpy!!

Thanks for this expected post!

Department Name for Room 504

Western Electric Company
Installation Department
5th Floor
1319 F Street
Washington DC

(From the 1925 Washington City Directory)

This department installed Central Office equipment (testboards, operator switchboards, signaling equipment, etc) supporting both local and long distance telephone service.

Google street view has an office building that looks old enough to be our Christmas Office party location. Perhaps another Shorpyite can add the street view for us.

[It was built in 1913. Interestingly enough, it's just one building away from Harris & Ewing, another source of many Shorpy photos. -tterrace]


The young woman framed in the door on the left looks remarkably like today's woman who was a business partner of mine.

Oh, Beautiful Lady in the Lower Left...

...let me unwrap that bear for you, before your nearby friend gets more worried that you're not having any fun.

An oilcan!

Now I know the perfect gift to get for all my co-workers. Merry Christmas Shorpy nation.

I look forward to these people each year

They've become familiar yet remain interesting. As I said years ago, we're testing the counter on this one.
Merry Christmas fellow Shorpyites and wish a grand New Year!

The lucky ones

Due to the magic of photography, this happy group has been celebrating now for ninety years. If you enlarge the picture and study their faces and demeanors, you may get some insight into their characters and personalities in 1925. After seeing this photo for many Christmases on Shorpy, I almost feel that I know some of them as well I know my own friends. Merry Christmas to all, especially the Shorpy staff.

Spooky Lady of Christmas Past

I remain endlessly curious regarding the woman with her back to the desk.

Spooky and haunting, amid all the fascinating characters in this classic shot, she is The One.

What are we missing?

Great photo, been seeing it for years now, but I always wonder what else was going on? People are looking left, right, straight, up, down. What was going on out of frame? That lady in lower left looks ready to bolt, especially with the other lady looking on concernedly. If this was a Halloween photo, the massacre would be about to begin.

I've been ill, and maybe delirious...

Festive Dress

The bald gentleman in the back has the best holiday hat I have ever seen, the festive Go Go hat atop his bald head.

Oh Christmas Twig! Oh Christmas Twig!

Considering it is 1925 and an urban area they probably had a hard time locating a showpiece Christmas tree. Probably the best they could do was this poor little immortalized twig.


That's how many people have called up this photo. Over a quarter million! And this isn't YouTube. What an amazing picture. What an amazing site. Merry Christmas to all my Shorpy comrades and a huge thank-you to Dave and tterrace for all they do to bring this amazingness to us every day.

Now it is Christmastime for sure

I couldn't truly celebrate Christmas without seeing this picture again. It must be after Thanksgiving or Shorpy would not have posted it. Any comments I could make about this picture would only be a pale response to all the previous comments. It just makes me try to think what an office Christmas party like this must have been compared to a modern day party. I look forward to this picture every year for some crazy reason.

Room 504

Flip the photo horizontally, and you will see that we are on the 5th floor. Who can guess the "department" we are in?

The fun is over

Okay, we had our Christmas celebration, now everyone back to your desks and let's finish out the day at 5:00.


I heard Springsteen singing about Santa on my way to work, and now I see this. It is truly Christmastime now.

Merry Christmas, George Babbitt

The guy on the right, in front, with the grand forehead, holding the stogie, reminds me of Sinclair Lewis's protagonist in "Babbitt" (1922):

"He was the modern business man; one who gave orders to clerks and drove a car and played occasional golf and was scholarly in regard to Salesmanship. His head suddenly appeared not babyish but weighty, and you noted his heavy, blunt nose, his straight mouth and thick, long upper lip, his chin overfleshy but strong; with respect you beheld him put on the rest of his uniform as a Solid Citizen."

It was ninety years ago today ...

... and the photo never ceases to give.

Must have been a heck of a party

All the way in the back is a tall bald man with a traffic signal on his head! That's better than a lampshade. The body language between the woman on the far left and the woman to her right who is glaring at her is really very sad. You wonder what sort of ugliness was going on behind the scenes. The lady looks like she's been crying a bit. Who knows. It's fascinating to see such a candid photo none the less.

Tough Day At The Office?

The best part about these office parties are the grab bags. It's always the best way to regift. Other than that, I hope Dave, Ken, tterace and all our outstanding commentators and readers have a wonderful holiday and a healthy prosperous New Year.

Re 2%, and Raise your glasses

I think glasses were considered unattractive. I remember lots of members of this generation (my grandparents') or the next who would whip off their glasses whenever someone raised a camera.


Shorpy's annual "Office Xmas Party" has arrived! There's my guy standing in the back row, far left still waiting for me. Swoon.

Happy Holidays, Shorpyites!

And thank you, Dave, for all that you do.

I have to ask

Does "Office Xmas Party" have the largest amount of comments?

[That record might be held by Our Lady of Lourdes School. Another much-commented post was The Beaver Letter. - Dave]

Wee fish, ewe, a mare, egrets, moose

... and a hippo gnu year!

Roaring Twenties!

Thanks for this flash-back, Shorpy!
Love the very mysterious Lady on the left...
and still dislike that pompous guy with the cigar.

Hours and hours

I, like so many others here, have spent hours with this image. I'm always drawn back to the woman in the lower left. She's always struck me as the office outcast trying to get out of the picture. The woman to the right of her, with the lace collar, looks like her boss giving her the stink eye for not participating.

Threadbare Boughs

Now I know where Charlie Brown got his tree. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks again!

This is now my official notification that the Xmas season has begun. The Office Party re-post.

One must wonder

if oiling the bear will make the Yuletide bright?

Modern Woman


Do they know?

The standing gal, 3rd from the left, and the kneeling gal (center and one row back) both have the same necklace on (7 little cascading chains ending in a pearl). I think that the boss-man, J. Edgar Hoover (on the right with the cigar), is having an affair with both of these gals and he gave them both the same necklace. He thinks it's really funny and smiles when he sees them together; his own little private joke! I wonder if the gals know and are just playing him for whatever they can get? We will never know for sure.

What's with the oil can?

I understand the Teddy Bear and little house in the front of the photo. But what is the significance of the Christmas Oil Can?

[Yet another beloved Christmas legend inspired by this photo. -tterrace]

Merry Christmas Shorpyites

Merry Christmas to one and all, fans of the photos posted in Shorpy. Thanks to Dave and everyone who helps out with the site.

I hope the new year is good to all and everyone will be back next Christmas to view Xmas Party.

I've been a member for 3 years, 2 days and anonymous for several before that I think.

Glad for Trad

It's truly a fun Shorpy-looker tradition to view this pic large and spend an hour time traveling and reading the comments. Hope everybody had a Groovy Solstice yesterday. Happy Holidays!

Time for a Shorpy Xmas party!

I think we are overdue to have one where we all meet and discuss THIS picture (because with 150 comments, we clearly have a lot on our minds about this W.E. holiday soiree).


I had to do ctrl-f for all three pages, and I'm amazed that no one to date has identified J. Edgar Hoover standing in the front row, cigar butt in hand, between vest-and-watch chain guy and three-piece suit guy. I can't believe I didn't notice him when I first commented three years ago.


I can almost hear Tevya, singing the song in "Fiddler On The Roof", but not quite. It is of course the Holiday Season, office parties and good will to men and of course women. It is time for us Shorpy Junkies to wish each other the best of the season. Good health, prosperity and peace to all. Thanks to our Hosts Dave and Ken and to our interlocutor terrace for their grand efforts.


Thanks for posting again, this is one of my favourite pictures on Shorpy. Some odd Barnets going on with some of the women though...I'd love to know if there was a gramophone at this party and if so, what the playlist was.

Dean Norris

Ah, it wouldn't be Christmas without this delight from Shorpy!

The guy behind the big boss's left shoulder looks like a sightly younger version of actor Dean Norris. According to IMDB, Dean Norris was born in 1962 or 1963, but if this post on Shorpy is any guide, he's at least 100 years old. Is he pretending to be younger than he really is? And what's the secret of looking so young?

Sic transit ursus

I love the Shorpy Christmas party! This guy still startled me when I spied him on the floor, despite the fact that I commented on him FIVE YEARS AGO.

Hair dressers

Who did the hair styles back then, terrible......

Hey, long time listener, first time caller!

I wonder if camp Pierce Brosnan (top row, far left) found the Ion Deptartment accepting of his flamboyant wonderfulness.

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | 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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