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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Young Artistes: 1921

Young Artistes: 1921

"Junior high school classroom." With one lucky (?) boy in the back. In or around Washington, D.C., circa 1921. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The desks

I was in a Catholic grammar school in Hoboken in the early 60's and we used these desks. They were bolted to the floor, had fancy iron work and a round indentation on the top for an ink well.

W.C. Fields

Like Fields, our young man would rather be in Philadelphia!

11 to 16

I'm always intrigued by the varying ages in these classroom groups. The ages seem to range from eleven or twelve to girls of fifteen and sixteen. Must have been close enough to the one-room schoolhouse model that it didn't matter too much to mix.


The desks look like old Singer sewing machine cabinets. Notice that they are bolted to the floor--no group work there!

The ironwork

The ironwork on the desk legs is beautiful. The school system probably paid $5 per desk if that.

From the look on his face

I'm guessing it wasn't the young man's choice to be in the class.

Miserable much?

I love how angry and miserable the only boy in the class looks.

Miss Ver Plank

Looks a lot like my classroom in the early 1950s. Our principal was Miss Ver Plank -- a stern and certainly single matron of about 60 whose hair was always pulled tight into a bun. She wore long black skirts, white long-sleeved blouses and those heavy black leather Dr. Scholls shoes. We had few discipline problems -- the thought of being sent to see Miss Ver Plank was enough to keep us in line.

My third grade teacher was beautiful, and I was certain I was going to marry her. I was devastated the day she announced to the class that she was engaged.

A technical note: enlarge the photo and you'll see a little round black dot on the top moulding for the left window. This is where an air bubble clung to the film during processing. A beginner's mistake. Must have been processed by the apprentice. The irregular black spots are probably from dust on the negative when it was exposed.

[This photo was taken on glass, not film. - Dave]

Only one fella in the class

Did he enroll in the class in the hopes that his slick moves would impress the ladies?


The young man in the back appears to be only male in the class, and the only student who is aware of his photo being taken.

White shoes, black hose

Definitely makes a statement. Of some sort.


When I started school in 1953 this style of desk and classroom was still in use.

Bad air out, good air in

One thing that stands out in many of these pics is the correct use of the double-hung sash. You open the top to let heat out, open the bottom to let cooler air in. This habit has been lost, and double-hung windows made after 1960 generally have an immovable upper sash.

[If the top doesn't move, it's not double-hung. - Dave]

A single southpaw

Clearly these were the days when lefties were forced to write with the right hand. Fun to see them painting with tins of watercolors.

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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