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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 • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

Unlimited Texting: 1919

Unlimited Texting: 1919

Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Underwood Typewriter Co." An interior view of the Underwood office on New York Avenue whose exterior we saw in the previous post. Really, who needs distracting windows when we have this marvelous artificial lighting? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

No Paperwork

There sure doesn't seem to be an abundance of unfiled paperwork laying lying around.

Comptometer

I think that its just an old fashioned adding machine sitting beside the typewriter- it looks too small to be a Comptometer.

Comptometry

Underwood Typewriters, Otis Elevators -- who doesn't recognize these icons. I learned to type on an Underwood. And I learned in Business College I was not a typist. What has caught my eye is the machine on the desk of the lady facing the camera on the left. I am fairly certain that is a Comptometer. This machine made me crazy. The fingers of both hands were placed on the keyboard. Somehow by pushing all the keys it did something. That something escapes me. Perhaps someone can enlighten us on the function of the machine.

Broad Rock

"Broad Rock Virginia" (on the cooler) is an area on the southern side of Richmond. Years ago it used to be its own little area, but for the last 50 years or so it has been part of Richmond city. It is near the James River, so possibly they bottled water from the river and sold it.

It would be a pretty decent hike to bring refills to Washington. I wonder if Underwood "purloined" the stand from somewhere else and used local bottled water.

[Broad Rock did business in Washington from 1431 L Street. - Dave]

Re: Water cooler

Forget the water, what's in the bottles below that card file to the right?

[Ink. - Dave]

Office party anyone?

The woman with her arm on the typewriter and the wry smile, must be the only one aware that the party supplies have arrived. (on the floor, to her left)

Nice furniture

Lots of nice quarter-sawn oak furniture there.

Typewriter stands

I really like the cast iron typewriter stands that swing from the end of the desks

Re: Idle hands

They drank heavily - that's what the hell they did all day. See those bottles under the card files on the right?

And the guy in the middle? Think De Niro in Taxi Driver, about ready to take out the entire office staff.

April Fools 1919 Water Cooler Laughs

On April 1, 1919 Venetians awoke to find piles of horse manure deposited throughout the Piazza San Marco, as if a parade of horses had been through during the night. Since the Piazza is surrounded by canals and not easily accessible to horses, this was extremely unusual. An infamous British prankster honeymooning in Venice had transported a load of manure from the mainland the night before with the help of a gondolier and deposited small piles of it throughout the Piazza. (From the Tampa Tribune, March 26, 2009)

The lengths some folks will go...

I wonder if the Underwood office folks got a laugh out of that while standing around that cool cooler.

That's my stapler

Nobody has any personal belongings or doodads on their desk.

I really want

That water cooler in the corner--I had no idea they had those then. I wonder what sort of contextually-applicable current-event related office-safe jokes they told around it? Or did they stand around it at all?

[If it's a cooler, how would it cool -- ice in the base? - Dave]

re: Idle Hands

I guess they had to play solitaire with actual cards...

Low Light Levels??

No problem; miner's lamps for evryone! Direct Task Lighting.

I can smell it...

Dustbane...you can just smell it...every Monday morning...!!!

Awaiting Instructions

The young man sitting on the chair was probably "the office boy" the title of the messenger/gofer awaiting instructions from the stern man at his right. I wonder if the job of "office boy" exists in our politically correct business lives. It was a good way to start a career in those days. I don't know what the minimum age was for employment in then. It looks like this guy is about 14 or 15 years old.

Idle hands

No computers or Internet! What the hell did you do all day?

The Mole People

Once the camera's flash is eliminated this had to be a dark room to work in even if it had windows in the front of the building. The guy in the middle of the room looks like the power-tripping office jerk.

 
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