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About the Photos

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 • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

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 close to 90 years now. Will Clarence in Sales ever get up the nerve to ask out Hermione from Accounting?

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 glass negative. View full size.

 

She apparently had a good time with my grandpa.

As she is my grandma!

"The gal sitting on the floor behind the Oil can has had a drink or two already, and she is plotting mischief. I can see it in her eyes! Was she the good time that was had by all?"

Festivus

Its good to see this one again. I just keep looking at the people and see more than a few that would have been great company. I hope everyone, viewers, commenters, Dave and webmaster Ken has a great Holiday Season in the company of friends and loved ones.

The ion Department

A quick flip of the door confirms we are in room 504 of the ion Department.

Cost of that tree

Could not have been more then a dollar in 2011 money

Must have been last minute!!!

Up to no good?

The gal sitting on the floor behind the Oil can has had a drink or two already, and she is plotting mischief. I can see it in her eyes! Was she the good time that was had by all?

"Pure horse, Danno. Book 'em."

Having just spotted the drug paraphernalia on the left - the scale, the packaging materials, the kimono-wearing parrot - our undercover coppette in mid-pack has whipped out her official police hat and ignoring the cries of "that baggy's not mine!" is about ready to haul the whole gang downtown. A bust like this baby was sure to bump her upstairs and away from all these dreary office parties.

My hat!

How did she get it?

Lord Almighty!!!

It's the butler in the pantry!!!

I have never, ever seen so many guilty people in one photograph.

Unbelievable that it was not staged. But it obviously wasn't.

Wow!!!

Another Shorpy Party!

I love this photo and we're going to test the limits of the reply counter. Merry Christmas everyone and have a grand new year!

Secrets never revealed

There is no question that many secret alliances and not-always discreet hook-ups probably took place during and after this festive celebration 86 years ago. Luckily for those involved, there were no surveillance cameras, cell phone cameras, tape recorders, security guards, texting devices or other pesky snooping devices that could cause the merrymakers a permanent record (and deep lifetime regret) of their missteps. They were the roaring 20's when people gathered their rosebuds where they may and parties were for having the best time you could have. I'm betting many of these revelers took their sweet and sordid memories of that night to their graves.

Completion

All this tableau requires (perhaps) to make it complete, is a large paper bag on the floor stuffed with goodies, including the obligatory pair of turkey-feet protruding upward in a festive fashion.

Best of the Season to All in the Shorpyverse Continuum!

I never tire of looking at this one.

Always noticing something new, frinstance,

The object on the scale, seems to have some heft to it based on how far the scale dial has moved, maybe a cast iron toy?

The young fellow on the far right, Candy Cane in his right hand but whats on his left hand? Looks like it's slipped inside of something, a toy holster maybe?

Beauty

I love the woman sitting on the floor next to the desk looking away. At first glance you think; boy she looks tired, and then you look again and you see how beautiful she really is. She is just stunning. I also find it interesting with the commentary just how similar our comments in the office were to the ones posted on this site. We too made up stories about these folks. I love this photo. Thanks for sharing it.

It would be a chore, but could someone please

colorize this!

Western Electrical Fire

I can't believe, in 90+ comments on this remarkable photo, that not one person pointed out the extension cord running from the ceiling light fixture to the tree. I think the answer to the comment about how and when these folks died is: a few minutes after this photo was taken, in a horrible electrical fire.

General Electric Crime Family

Ok, a lot of the men look like mafiosi with the big-lips guy in front being the capo. The two guys at the right, top, are hit men.

The Timeless Desk

I'm still using the exact same desk as the one in the photo; my wife purchased it from McGill university when they replaced the professors' desks in the mid 1960s.

Oh what fun

Adolf (second from right at very top) has quite the leer going on. Peter Sellers could imitate him well. Mystery Lady could have been even more beautiful. I imagine her long hair flowing and her prominent features brought out even more with an expert's touch.

What is Stogie Man carrying, besides his eyeglasses? I also wonder who took this photo. It obviously took some arranging, with the piling up of people.

Excellent, almost spellbinding picture! I come here about six times a day just to visit it. I wonder who lived the longest, and what year they all died and how? Yes, I'm a morbid one.

At First Glance

and in the zoomed out view, I thought the gent at the far right might be the office troublemaker and that the folks wrapped him up in Christmas lights for his just deserts. Alas and alack, when you go in for a closer look, it's simply the ravages of time taking their toll on the negative.

[This batch of plates has water damage along one side. - Dave]

Office A-Go-Go

The gent at the back is, indeed wearing the miniature street signal (it has 4 arms to the signal so not a railway signal) on his head. Firstly, the only thing behind him is a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall, certainly nothing that the signal could be perched on. And, secondly, if it was sitting on something, it would not be sitting at the angle it is.

Then and Now

I'm wondering -- in today's world there is usually at least one person at an office party of that size who gets a little too inebriated and winds up making photocopies of their nether parts for distribution to all. Was there a way to do the same thing using a mimeograph machine or whatever other copying technology existed in 1925? Would the tipsy individual first have to draw their naughty bits on some special copy medium? Our grandparents sure had a lot of hardships to deal with.

RE: Oh Great

If CBS could give us Rudolph, Shorpy can give us Western Electric.

The Lady of the Desk

just wandered in from the Sergei Eisenstein film that was shooting on the set next door. She's on a break between takes of the Odessa Steps sequence.

Some Like It Hot

The mademoiselle standing in front of the woman wearing the Policeman's hat could have been Billy Wilder's inspiration for his casting Jack Lemmon in drag.

Another World

These people are denizens of another universe that, no matter how many photographs we study or books we read, we will never fully understand because we didn't live in it and never will.

These are people who knew how to navigate themselves in the distant world of 1925. All of these people were born at the beginning of the last century and were brought up by people from the 19th century.

If a modern young person were to be suddenly transported here without preparation he would find it completely disorienting and possibly quite frightening, because of so many technological and cultural and social differences between now and then.

An unflattering portrait

My god, this is by far the ugliest group photo I've ever seen! Both girls and guys look like winners from the Walmart Ugly Photo Contest.

Slow on the uptake

I'm pretty sure Mr. Semaphore head isn't actually wearing that thing on his head; it's behind him. What is alarming is the second head growing out of his chest. The heads seem to be in agreement to lurk.

Kimono-wearing parrot?

With a bouffant, no less? Over there, on the scale!!

The gal with the candy cane, to our left of the much-ballyhooed oil can chick, seems to be presaging late '60s hairstyles.

And yes, the balding dude in the rear with the traffic semaphore on his head wins the covert group-photo clown award in spades.

Deja vu

I loved this picture.

But the lass in front of the desk, looking stage right, is memorable. I think I've seen this picture before.

Then I noticed the dates of the previous comments. 2208? Surely two years cannot have gone by so quickly.

[To say nothing of the 198 after that! - Dave]

Sad to Say

So many hotties, so many dorks.

Uh-Oh Tannenbaum

That's the most bedraggled Christmas tree I've ever seen. It has more tinsel than needles.

Steamy

There are some SERIOUS sexual crosscurrents and hot vibes in this picture! Amazing!

I can't find Don Draper

Nor Joan Holloway, but this sure conjures up thoughts of Mad Men, 45 years earlier. I burst out laughing when my eyes scanned to the guy in the back with the stop and go-go item on his head! Maybe THAT is the flavor of the evening? More GO than STOP? This is the roaring 20s after all and these are certainly modern women..

Yes, this picture and your readers' comments may be my very favorites to date!

Oh great!

Shorpy is doing reruns for the holidays.

Kidding.

Merry Christmas.

2010 Interpretations

This year, I think the Black Widow has pretty much just had it with that place.

Stink-Eye isn't looking at the Black Widow. She's disapproving of something messy on the front of the desk.

Season's Greetings

Hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season, from Walter and all his friends in this, my favorite Shorpy picture.

Timeless people

Ever notice how nearly every photo of a large group, from about 1900 on, contains at least one person who looks like he/she could have been photographed in just about any decade, or just the other day? The lady by the desk behind the pretty girl with the pearls looks like a teacher at my kids' school! There is nothing about her teeth, hairstyle, makeup, etc., that gives away the fact that she was photographed in 1925 except, of course, for most of the other people in it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

have a great holiday and prosperous New Year.

My favorite picture

I and my co-worker check this site at least three times a day. He has never been on the Internet and when he passes by he will invariably ask "Anything new?" Which I know to mean "Anything new on Shorpy?" This Christmas Office Party is our favorite. We both live in Maryland and have seen many of the areas displayed in these pictures. When we scan the Office picture and see the "mob boss" guy with the stogie and the gun in his pants, he does a great Al Capone voice. I hope my posting this comment will bring new fans to
this amazing photo.

Naughty Naughty

Some young lady has just done something naughty off screen left. The Leery Boys approve, the Black Widow and Stink Eye don't, and the young lady behind Stink Eye is too drunk to comprehend.

Also, is the bald man by the Christmas tree wearing a traffic signal on his head, set to "Go?"

Somewhere in this crowd must be Col. Mustard, Miss Scarlet and Prof. Plum.

Angela

Angela's sitting on the floor with that big lace collar, giving the stink-eye to Meredith.

The Office

this picture reminds me of the TV show The Office. Jim is sitting on the desk in the right corner. Pam is all the way to the left in the back row. Michael is the guy with his hand on Jim's shoulder although he should be the bossman with the cigar. Stanley is the guy between the man holding the horse and the man with the cigar. Creed is Mr Leery. Kevin is holding the horse. Dwight is the only guy in glasses. Kelly is the bobbed woman behind the desk with the permanent smile on her face. Meredith is the creepy woman off alone... she's just waiting for her next drink of alcohol. Andy Bernard is the guy to the right in the back with the striped tie. I couldn't decide who Angela was. Ryan is the deer in headlights next to Andy. Phyllis is in the satiny dress to the right. Oscar is right by the right hand edge.
Man I love this picture.

50 Little Indians

This photo looks like a cast of characters who would end up in an Agatha Christie mystery....and I'm pretty sure I know who did it!

I think

the mysterious suicidal communist was probably a cleaning lady whom the photographer sort of forced to be in the picture and she's embarrassed to be photographed in shabby clothes and feels naturally out place amongst the staff with whom she's always been subservient.

She reminds me of Camille Claudel on her way to the madhouse.

If only

Tterrance had taken this photo! We would know all about it, mystery solved.

Most riveting photo ever.

I've been a lurker on Shorpy for months, but this photo has prompted me to register and comment. I've been coming back to this picture every day since it was posted, showing it to everyone I know.

What strikes me is that though there are several vintage-type characters here, there are also quite a few very contemporary looking people as well. This photograph represents such a vibrant living moment in the lives of these people. Some of them look like they could speak to you right from the picture. And, oh what a story they could tell!

This photo takes first place from my previous Shorpy favourite, They Shall Remain Nameless.

(But it's so close... check it out if you missed it.)

Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there ...

British Invasion

Not only Hugh and Rowan - isn't that the actress/singer Patsy Kensit on the left, standing in front of the office door?

Can't Get Over This Photo

I can't get over this picture. It's my favorite one on Shorpy, which is saying a LOT. And, it has nothing to do with my collection of high-end Western Electric phones from 1905-1939.

The woman in front, referred to as the "Black Widow," I can't look at her enough. She surely would get a large kick out of the ruckus she would caused in 2008, unless it bored her as also being commonplace in her own time. The woman over her left shoulder has movie star looks.

They are on the fifth floor, and I wish I could see the name on the glass door. Then again, the woman obscuring it may be the one to take home to meet the family, so she can stay.

The finish on the floor is badly worn, as contrasted by the part under the desk. These fellas were habitually hustling to and fro, and with the feminine charms represented here, it's no wonder. Office romances must have been all there rage therein.

I have been hoping the Farkers would be all over this one, except they love to specialize in the one-person quirk shots. I could place the Black Widow in countless situations...

Is this the only picture you have on this stunning group?

[Afraid so. - Dave]

Famous faces

To keep Hugh Grant company, fellow British comic actor Rowan Atkinson is peeking out from behind Shirtsleeves.

Lost in the crowd

Nobody seems to have spotted Hugh Grant peeking out between Stogie Boss and Bald Guy.

 
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