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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 • 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.

 

Roxie & Co.

I love this picture, and all the comments! Here's my .02:

*Girl with the oil can doesn't want to undress you, she's too in love with herself. You can see it in her eyes; she's a Roxie Hart if I ever saw one. "Eat your heart out, Sophie Tucker."

*I swear I graduated with the girl who has her hand on Roxie's shoulder. She's the one who organizes all our class reunions.

*If I were one of those girls, I'd probably want to date the guy sitting on the desk, right hand side. However, I have a feeling he'd want to "just be friends." So,

*I'd have to go for the one behind Ol' Pennyfarthing. No, not that one, the bald one. Handsome features and sense enough to not put some ridiculous piece of fur on his head.

*Girl leering at our castoff looks like one of Cinderella's stepsisters. Drucilla, I believe.

Office Hottie

I think the guy looking over the RIGHT shoulder of chubby-stogie dude is hot. There's something about the eyes that grab me. And the hint of a smile.

He is not a crook

Oh, my gosh. There's Richard Nixon on the upper right (with face partially hidden) just below old boss and crooked-vest guys.

Houdini?

The guy on the left side, just above and to the right of the P.D. hat girl....did Houdini make a special appearance? In any event, he's got a mean set of eyebrows.

And you are correct, Stinky, the girl on the far left by the door is surely a looker!

Oil Can Gal

The siren sitting with the oil can is undressing me with her eyes. I'll ignore the fact she is 112 years of age, and let her.

[Guess that explains the oil can. - Dave]

No, wait a minute

. . . okay, I've changed my mind. Now I like Miss Lookingaway, sitting in the lower left. Definitely. She's the one.

Foy
Las Vegas

They're all dead now

Just think ... they all had their youth, their lives, their personalities, and now they are all turned into worm food. Just a happy thought for Christmas.

This Won't Do

One chubby gal. One chubby guy.

As an official with the State of California, I say that this does not pass muster. There was hiring discrimination here. Walk into any State office and you'll see what I mean. Not to mention the plethora of Caucasians.

The chubby gal is next to sheet music. Wonder what this melba toast group was singing?

You were linked

A local blogger from Beaumont's newspaper linked your site today. I will be forever gratful! Nevermind I got absolutely nothing done today and instead pored over your site at length. This is truly an awesome site!

Rogues' Gallery

I can't stop staring at the chilly filly down by the leftern desk. She looks like three out of every five women I've ever fallen for. It's the eyes. As to the resemblance to Ana Magnani, she might be of Italian descent.

I am also like the older gentleman in the upper right. Mr. Leery Senior, was it? Right between Charlie Sheen (or Leery Jr.), Snidely Whiplash, and Mr. Deer-in-the-headlights. What a jovial sort. And a snappy dresser, as well. Conversely, the startled fellow's vest is well off-center and makes him look like he couldn't decide which part of him was the front. Or maybe he was taking a nap under a desk just before the photo op and somebody had to drag him out.

Funny how a photograph will turn Bob & Lisa from the office into Dick Tracy characters once you let your imagination do the walking. Thanks to all you for sharing your insights.

The Men of Western Electric

In the interest of gender equality, I got to wondering about the relative charms of the office boys. I found three who tickled my fancy.

1. The tall smiling fellow whose head is sticking up behind and to the right of Police Woman. His face is open and honest, he's smiling with his twinkly dark eyes as well as his mouth, and although his ears are a bit prominent there's a lovely overall symmetry to his face. I'll call him Dimples.

2. The one man who has the sense to sit down with the ladies. He's a bit older, but I love his soft wavy hair. There's a certain aristocratic but slightly sad angle to his tired half-smile that puts me in mind of a young Prince Philip. I'll call him Phil.

3. OK, here's the hotness - the brash, cocky young sheik peeking out confidently between the heads of Boss Stogie Pennyfarthing and his wan shirtsleeved assistant. He's got the eyes of Frank Sinatra and the hair of Jack Kennedy. I don't know what he looks like from the neck down, but from the Arrow collar up he's all, "How YOU doin'?" I'll call him Frankie.

In summary: Were I one of the office flappers, I would ride in Frankie's Studebaker, nurse a secret unrequited crush on Phil, and take Dimples home to meet Mother.

Record Breaker?

Look at the stats on this photo: 53,000 + reads, and still climbing. That's a lot of forensic partyologists! I wonder if even Dave knew what he had pulled out of the hat with this one?

[I am shocked. Shocked! - Dave]

Hotness quantification

I count 20 women in that picture; most of them you can see no more than their face and hair, and two you can't even see all of that.

Out of the 18 you have a good facial shot of, I'd put 3 of them at 8.5-9.5 on the scale... three of them are SMOKING hot. I'd put another 4 at the 7-8.5 mark, meaning serious cuties, and at least three of the others are a 6 -7.

Where I work we have 100 women in my office; I'd put exactly three in the 8.5-9.5 scale, and another 10 in th 7-8.5 scale; of the rest, probably only a smattering are really in the 5+ range.

So, I have to know ... where do you work that the women are so attractive? Playboy Enterprises?

Taking into account the differences in style, these women were, mostly, very attractive, and even a couple of the less attractive weren't awful.

re: Xmas light strings

LOL! Dave, a lot of your comments (like this one) crack me up! Are you a comedian in real life? Merry Christmas!

[Please folks, no applause. Just throw money. - Dave]

How did they get Xmas light strings in 1925?

I thought people used small candles until the '60s. How did they happen to have these string lights? Great pic of us back then.

[The 1960s being, I guess, when covered wagons brought in the first supplies of wired Christmas lights. - Dave]

That's right . . .

. . . pretty women did not have to work in the '20's so, Miss Oilcan's exemption is assured, in my opinion - what a hottie.

Foy
Las Vegas

Re: 1920s

I'm kind of young too, but I disagree with you. I think this office has quite a collection of lovely women (and some not-as-lovely ones too, just like today). Sometimes, it's hard to look past the hairstyles and the clothes. If you are young (20-something? younger?), you've really only seen one ideal of beauty--you've missed a lot of the different fashions and hairdos of the rest of the 20th century. You also underestimate what modern makeup does for women. There are so many more varieties of it today than there were then, and it's generally of higher quality and easier to use than in the past. If you took one of the women in this picture, say, the girl with pearls sitting next to the desk and plunked her down in 2008 to get a makeover, her hair would be longer, probably highlighted and dyed, and aided by daily washing and a host of conditioners. Then, add some good moisturizer, foundation, and concealer, as well as a lash curler, mascara, and a healthy helping of eye liner, and I'm guessing you'd think her quite the fox.

Conversely, take the most attractive woman you know now, and put her in short hair and marcel waves, take away her hair dye and most of her makeup, and I'm guessing she'd look quite similar to the ladies in this photo. Even something as simple as the shape of plucked eyebrows really change the look of someone, and with the change in aesthetics, it's sometimes hard to get past the fashion to see beauty.

It works with the men too--you'd probably look a lot different with a side part and a pompadour!

That's my desk!

I have a desk that's identical to the one on the left. I had guessed it was 1940's vintage. It's nice to see it's even older than I thought.

1920's

I'm kind of young so maybe I'm missing something, but did pretty women not have to hold jobs in the 1920's? This office is worse than the one I work in, I didn't think that was possible.

Keep them in their place.

I, too, wonder why all the women are sitting on the floor in their silk satin dresses with fur collars. Surely there were some men who would have been glad to give up their places for them (and to sit amongst the women!)

Spellbinding

I cannot stop looking at this picture. So much to see. The Al Capone looking guy is mesmerizing. The guy at top, second from right gives me the creeps.

I spy...

Second woman in the third row...Frida Kahlo, at her day job.

Twins or Sisters?

Study the features of the young woman directly in front of the door - then look at the one just to the right of (and looking directly at) "blondie with the pearls". Eyes, hair, smile, shape of face, body build: if they are not twins then they must at least be sisters. It is uncanny!

Christmas Backstory

Yes, the young lady at the lower left leaning against the desk has the most interesting backstory in the room. Thanks to the passage of time we'll never know what was behind her haunted expression beyond that the woman giving her the evil eye must have had something to do with it.

Dave continues to put these evocative photos up knowing our emotions will never be satisfied!!

Meanwhile, notice the vintage Chia Pet resting on the scales in the "shipping department" (the desk along the left side). The girl in the fake police hat is looking longingly at it. Chia bunny? Chia elf?

The guy in front of the Christmas tree holding the toy, "I got a PONY!"

Re: Western Electric

You know you're a Shorpy addict when you "get" Anonymous Tipster's reference to the photographer's use of flash (or WAS there a window somewhere?!). Nice shot, A.T.!

My Girl

Say what you want about the woman on the floor or the blonde with the pearl necklace, but my heart belongs to the woman standing fourth from the left, middle row. She reminds me of Bernadette Peters.

The henchman second from the right at the top has a menacing Snidely Whiplash quality about him. You just know he slipped a mickey into someone's drink.

Debauchery 2.0

Four years after behaving scandalously at the Krazy Kat, our bohemian friends find themselves slogging away at desk jobs in the boring adult world. Just WAIT until the Christmas party, though!

Leer Kings

"That Guy" looks like he could be the son of the older leering man directly to the right of him. I shall call them Denis Leery Jr. and Denis Leery Sr. The two men with them are obviously Christopher Walken as The Continental, and a young Franz Mesmer.

Undercover

Isn't anyone going to ask why the woman in the middle is wearing a hat with a Police badge? Is this a costume xmas party? Could she possibly be a real cop??

The Power Bloc, continued

The balding gent just over Boss Stogie's left shoulder-- the real power in the office, he certainly looks confident that his recent appointment to regional director will lead to greater things. Boss Stogie's son, Junior (with the candy cane), was on the fast track to becoming a junior partner until he was befriended by Harold from the mailroom (his hand on Junior's shoulder), which displeased Boss to no end.

The Black Widow

Quick somebody, get the story on the raven-haired woman sitting in front of the desk.

She looks like she ate her young; perhaps she has a few "missing" husbands buried in her dirt-floor basement.

I get the very distinct impression that if you crossed her, you ended up joining the silent majority long before your time.

This is so great!

A bevy of attractive females here but I'm partial to the blond girl standing at the far left of the photo.

Wowzer!

Also, standing next to Boss Stogie on his left: ladies and gentlemen ... Mr. Joaquin Phoenix.

Gifted

Judging by the peculiar items in the shot I'm thinking they exchanged white elephant gifts at the party. I got a big stuffed fish at our last party. I would have preferred the oil can.

That Office Girl

I find her the most intriguing face in the picture. She looks almost out of place in this setting... her face is striking. Her expression says that she's part of a back story going on around the office that no one knows about.

Wow. I'm falling in love with a woman who's long long dead. How sad is that?

Getting Oiled at the Office Xmas Party

The oil can on the foreground floor is absolutely precious. There can be no rational explanation for it. Then again, one tends to get oiled at the office party.

The hot babe is standing, far left, if not the girl sitting left, in pearls by the purse on the desk corner.

The fat guy with the cigar has his conjoined twin growing out of his forehead.

Girls on one side, boys on the other? Weird.

How dare these people all die off before telling us why that guy is holding the little horsey?

"Hey, Griselda. Spin my copter. If it says 'STOP - STOP', you are not mine. If it says 'Go - GO', oh you kid!"

The Power Bloc ...

Have you happened to notice how Big Boss Man - the guy holding that little stubby cigar - is surrounded by thugly-type guys? This is the power bloc for this office. The guys up on the top left are all from a different Department and are wary of Big Boss Man's thugs. There is a little bit of cross-pollenation, however. The first guy standing on the table at the right is shooting a bemused glance in the direction of his bud in that other Department. He's the shorter, unjacketed guy with the full frontal grin and the eyebrows in serious need of plucking. To them, this is all a goof. They hang out together and keep each other informed as to who says what about whom, which of the girls are doable and what the scuttlebutt is coming down from the top. There's more here but I don't want to get censored.

H.P. Lovecraft?

Could it be? Standing in front of the "Go Go" guy, half hidden? Maybe Franz Kafka, instead? This would be the guy who takes an extra-long time in the lav in order to scratch unseemly things onto the stall partitions. Every office has one of these guys and in this office, its either him or else its the nearly invisible guy standing across from him on the other side of the tree. Also, the girl on the far left, standing in front of the door, is unforgivably cute. I'll bet she's told a lot of these guys "NO" and that's why she's way over there.

The oil can

Of course the bear and the cabin weren't mentioned -- everyone knows the best part of the party is getting well-oiled!

Thank you. I'll be here all week. And don't forget to tip your server.

IN and OUT

I noticed the IN basket on the desk to the far right, but where's the OUT basket? I sometimes wonder why I have an OUT basket on my desk at work - it's always less full than the IN one.

The woman sitting on the floor to the far left bears a striking resemblance to the Italian actress Ana Magnani (The Rose Tattoo).

Now I Know

My father worked for Western Electric. The money wasn't very good, so I never figured out why he stayed there. Guess this answers the question.

Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen...

...hair! I think that's my favorite part of this picture. There's such a great group of hairstyles among the women. A few of those girls were pretty darn good with the curling iron, or whatever they used. I wonder if they're more glammed up than usual for the big party. For some reason, the hairstyles are more striking to me than in other pictures. Anyway, fascinating as always.

P.S. I think the guy that bdgbill thinks looks like the antichrist is actually kind of a hottie. I'm going to go on the assumption that he didn't look that intense all the time. If he did...well, I could see bdgbill's point then.

Dramatis Personae

Mona, the woman on floor, far left (one of the few without the Marcel wave), is probably a Suffragist or at least politically active. Maybe she's trying to organize these party animals into a union and all they want to do is balance traffic signals on their heads and be wildly social.

Office Tension

This must have been just after Phyllis spilled the beans about Dwight and Angela. Poor Andy!

That guy

Of the four guys standing in the upper right, the guy who is on the left side, closest to the tree -- which girl is he leering at?

Western Electric

If you flip the picture around, you can sort of read the door sign. I can make out:

504

[Western Elec]tric Com[pany].
[INCORP]ORATED
[?]ION DEPARTMENT

I wonder what the missing part is. Administration?

Don't mess with these guys!

The boss from Hades has what looks like a goose egg on his forehead and the coatless guy on his right has a black eye and cuts on the nose and eyebrow: maybe the partying started the night before. Looks like a smoking hot curling iron was de rigueur for any well-coifed lady.

Western Electric

Western Electric was the manufacturing and distribution arm of American Telephone and Telegraph. I suppose that this office in Washington was one of their distribution points. At any rate one interesting thing about the photo is the decided separation of men and women as though they might have come from different sections of the business. I also note that the ladies are sitting on a pretty rough floor, which is something I would have thought they would have avoided in those clothes. As to the glasses, I suspect that the photographer cautioned them that the flash might reflect from the lenses, assuming that I can assert that there was flash. Who knows, maybe there's a window somewhere.

Re: Fat Chance

Wait -- so the oil can is worth noting, but not the bear statuette or the small house?

Where's the copier?

Ahhh, the days before every office had a copier, and every office had some joker trying to get the temp to sit on it!

Western Electric (Shock Therapy)

Great pic. And I'm sure there are as many stories as people in this one. But let's admit that the lady sitting on the floor on the left has to have the most interesting one. There is a haunted, post-experimental-therapy look to her that immediately reminded me of the psych-ward scenes in "Changeling."

 
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