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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Class Photo: 1905

Class Photo: 1905

Washington ca. 1905. "Business High." Harris & Ewing glass neg. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

You ought to know that....

Too funny about the naught.... My mother used to say "ought" without the N. She was also born in 1919, in Manitoba, of Icelandic descent. Perhaps that is how they pronounced it up here then? I had forgotten all about the ought thingy and darn near laughed myself off my chair when I read your comment. Good wit.

[Says Webster: "Aught" is an alternate spelling of "naught" that from an incorrect division of "a naught" as "an aught." - Dave]

Now approaching Baltimore ...

If this group ever got caught in a headwind, the boys would be airborne in a second.

No letting your hair down

Until the mid-1960s, once a girl reached puberty her long hair had to be worn up at all times, except at bedtime. No respectable woman could appear in public with her hair down unless she was fleeing an earthquake or a house fire. Even after women began cutting their hair short, those who kept long hair were expected to wear it up until the 1940s at least, and even those who wore it down like Veronica Lake usually cut it to shoulder length. Truly long hair worn down was not socially permissible in most parts of the country until the end of the 1960s. When a girl I knew in high school in San Diego in 1966 started wearing her waist-length hair down, her not-very conservative parents threatened to throw her out of the house for "getting wild."

Before flappers bobbed their hair

Until the 1920's when flappers shockingly bobbed (cut) their hair, all women let it grow and pinned it up. My grandmother (who would have been a contemporary of these girls) had hair to her knees and combed it out each morning, then pinned it up. The 5 or so inches closest to the floor weren't even gray because they had grown so long ago. Only prostitutes supposedly wore their hair down. So a woman of fine reputation always wore it up.

Beautiful Waists

At the time of the photo, the elaborate cotton blouses worn by these girls were usually called waists, or shirtwaists, and equally complicated examples could be made at home or purchased in stores. Experienced seamstresses could purchase an astonishing variety of inexpensive machine-made lace and cam-embroidered trims, edgings and insertions from notions stores, department stores and fancy-goods shops, or get them from mail-order catalogs. The shop window in the photo of Apolonia Stuntz's "Fancy Store" displays lace edgings, flounces and trims that are similar to those on some of the shirtwaists seen here. Ready-to-wear shirtwaists from department stores and shops were mostly produced in sweatshop garment factories, such as the notorious Triangle Waist Company factory that burned in New York in 1911.

Familiar Faces

I see in these faces other people I have known, although none of them are these kids, perhaps their descendants. Some of these girls, given a few more years, will become head-turners, especially after the Gibson Girl look is past. Some of the boys will be lady-killers. I love the crisp but subtle modeling that these glass negatives give, kind of like an Old Master in grayscale.

Math Lessons

I can just hear the math classes "Naught from naught is naught..."

My parents (born 1917 and 1919) used "naught" for zero for many years.

We need this type of HS again, I see too many young people entering the work force with a college degree but lacking in basic skills, particularly technical writing.

I can't help but notice ...

that all the women have long hair worn up. Was that the style of the day, or was it de rigueur for graduation pictures?

Beautiful blouses

I am in awe at the detail in these ladies' blouses. The lace, the smocking, the pleats, the eyelet.... Do you think these were made by the girls or their relatives or would this be an item they could just pick up at a store?


It is interesting how many of these young women are wearing lockets, the woman second row, third from the left, possibly a locket watch ?
How intriguing to wear a hidden secret as jewelry.

Can Do - Will do

It's rare to see so many determined expressions. Each one is beautiful in his or her own way just because of the "I can and will" expressions on their faces and, most important, in their eyes. Never mind that some are prettier or handsomer than others. They'll make it.


Two of the girls stand out, in the front row, the second girl from the left for her beauty and the second girl from the right for her classic look.


Was this related to Strayer Business College later?

[Strayer Business College got its start in 1892. Business High, a public school, opened in 1904. In the 1930s it became Cardozo High School. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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