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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 • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Seven Up: 1920

Seven Up: 1920

"Bathing beach, 1920." Seven lovelies at the Potomac bathing beach near the Tidal Basin. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Wool Jersey versus Cotton Sateen

Most of the bathing suits appear to be wool jersey knits, the most popular bathing suit material at the time. The two girls to the right, however, appear to be wearing home-made cotton shift bathing suits or beach dresses. The reflectivity and drape of the fabric suggests woven cotton sateen, an inexpensive fabric that was also sometimes used for beach garments, particularly by home seamstresses.

Mom...is that you?

The girl 3rd from the left certainly looks familiar?

Two of your lovelies

are sporting a thin, shiny material that looks like no bathing suit fabric that I have seen from the period - and they are a very different style from the others. Do you think they are bathing suits or some kind of beach sun dresses?

Scandalous

What is the guy doing on the right? Like other shorpyers (shorpytonians?) observed I can see scandal afoot with these loose women. Thank you for the daily glimpses into life during the past century, it is refreshing to add more perspective to our history as an industrial and technological society.

My word!

This is NSFW! Have these gals no shame? Missys baring skin like this are looking for a good time, a husband or poison ivy. No good will come of it.

My, What Teeth!

These girls have pretty good teeth, for the most part, in an era during which orthadontics were the exception rather than the rule.

Babes, Bobs ...

No Bernices here. Not even Miss Nips was daring enough to bob her hair.

Medallions

Several of the gals have medallions around their necks. Any idea the purpose?

[Claim tags for the rented swimsuits. - Dave]

Not for Every Body

Bathing caps, wool suits and swimsocks. That's a look you really don't see much anymore.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
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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