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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 • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

A Close Shave: 1914

A Close Shave: 1914

Circa 1914. "Army or National Guard camp." National Photo Co. View full size.

 

Don't kick the bucket

If that chair is so high that one needs a bucket as a foot rest, how does one climb up into it? I hope you don't have to stand on that unsecured bucket. That would put getting a shave into the hazardous duty department.

Letter from home

The man being shaved appears to be holding a piece of paper in his left hand. Could it be a letter from a loved one back home? A few sociable minutes with your barber would be a logical time to share some of its contents.

The Man From Ironbark

This reminds me of "The Man From Ironbark," written around 1895 by A.B. "Banjo" Patterson, one of Australia's more famous poets.

Nerves of steel

The barber appears to be smiling nonchalantly. But not me, if I was shaving some guy with a gun on his hip. Seriously, though, that is one great looking folding chair.

Teddy's army

This is the beginning of the "Modern Army" as reorganized by Theodore Roosevelt; he forced out unfit soldiers, and began push for soldiers to be more uniform in their abilities.

The reason I bring this up is that even after Teddy reorganized the military, facial hair was still perfectly fine... until the Great War. Gas masks didn't fit properly for men with beards, and didn't seal well; if they leaked, we could have soldiers die, or be disabled, through the constant chemical attacks.

Facial hair was banned... and a lot of soldiers started getting close shaves.

Leggings

The soldier in the chair is wearing the M1907 legging, unique for the use of a web strap to tighten them up, versus laces. The barber is wearing the M1904 legging, which used laces.

You can see the same mix of leggings in the previous group shot of Army soldiers. The guys wearing the M1904 legging on the right (in the other photo) are actually wearing them correctly - they were supposed to be laced in front (although many soldiers wore them laced on the side). It wasn't until the M1917 legging came out that the puttees were supposed to be laced on the side of the calf.

Why aren't they wearing puttees (the wrap-around cloth leggings), you might ask. The Army didn't start wearing puttees until we entered World War I; they found that the British-style wool puttees were more practical in the muddy trenches of Europe than canvas leggings.

 
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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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