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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 • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Mrs. Claus: 1949

Mrs. Claus: 1949

Christmas 1949 in Valparaiso, Indiana. That's Grandma in a Kodachrome slide. View full size.

Hoosier Holidays

I have so enjoyed all the family holiday pictures you have shared of late - especially this one from Valpo (I am a lifelong Hoosier myself). Even though I never knew any of these people personally, still I grew up with people very much like the ones depicted in your family photos.

Tasteful Tinsel

Gramma Delworthio had a nice, light touch with the tinsel for a midcentury lady.

Zelda

This lovely lass reminds me of my grandmother Zelda Small, my mother's mum.

I was born 12:28 a.m. on December 27, 1949, two days after this picture was taken; missing the Christmas due date much to Zelda’s chagrin. As a young boy, I remember presents wrapped gaily in simply printed papers with thin curling ribbons just like this used more like string than decorative embellishments. This photo represents what was quite a nice bounty for the times.

Martha-Stewart-styled rooms filled with mansion-scaled decorations and piles of elaborately wrapped gifts touching the ceiling all came progressively later peaking in the 80s and 90s. Everyone has now either passed on or the younger ones are now living in their new families. I am back to this simpler Christmas and I cherish every moment of it. Thank you for this "memory spark."

I am preparing for a very small party and have to mull some cider for a friend from Marseilles.

Merry Christmas
Charles Worthington

Scotch-Irish

I heartily approve of a "grownup Christmas" too! My fiance has asked for a bottle of good scotch and Bailey's Irish Cream for Christmas -- doubt that we will save those for New Year's Eve. Unfortunately the bottles won't be under a tree as beautiful as this one. With two tree-climbing, ornament-batting cats, I've had to settle for my ceramic tree since 1994.

Christmas decorations

You don't see those silver icicles on today's trees. How I miss them.

Heavy

Those aren't fruitcakes, just decorative doorstops. But then, again, aren't they the same?

Yum.

Looks like some nice fruitcakes there on the right. Or maybe it's Grandma's famous Wensleydale Loaf.

Ship's wheel

It's a decorative thermometer. Its twin is illustrated and described on this page of an antique dealer's site. Scroll down to the thermometer listings.

[So it doubles as a flask, right? And hopefully has a lighter built in. Put it all together and you'd have a little thermostatically controlled stove. - Dave]

Een More Merry

Both Schenley and Old Forester. (And just think, that used to be the norm and not worthy of comment.)

Smokin'

Grandma enjoyed a good stogy, eh?

Ship's Wheel

It looks like a thermometer. Grandpa was a chief engineer in the merchant marine so I'm sure that provided the theme for lots of gifts. He probably placed it over by all the Old Spice and ships in bottles. While in the Navy during WWI he met this fine lass in England, married her there, and shipped her home to St. Louis while he finished his tour of duty. If only they had reality newspaper serials back then. "We thought we would place this English girl literally in the middle of the United States with people she's never met, including her new mother-in-law!"

It is a Christmas Miracle

I love all the wonderful gifts under the tree, but I'm curious about what appears to be the ship's wheel. Is that a clock or a decanter full of Old Spice?

We Need More Like This!

This is Christmas for the grownups. I heartily approve!

Don't Forget

Dave, you missed the bourbon and the ashtray. Now that's a Merry Christmas!

Very Very Merry

Now this is what I call a Christmas tree. Scotch, cigars and hazmat tinsel.

 
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Shorpy.com | 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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