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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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

The Bunny Chair: 1935

The Bunny Chair: 1935

"Donald R. Johnson, portrait, 1935." Harris & Ewing glass neg. View full size.

 

The Wristwatch

...is a TOY! Plastic band, tin watch with plastic cover. I guess they don't make these any more -- "small parts may choke small children," etc. They were very common when we were kids. I even had a couple of girls watches myself.

tterrace toddler time

Regarding tterrace's photo below, a wristwatch on a 2-year-old? I don't know of any 2-year-old that can count much less tell time. You really musta been way ahead of your "time" so to speak. I find it equally perplexing that watchmakers even made toddler wristwatches, as the watch seems proportional to a 2-year-old's wrist.

If you're so happy, why ain't you rich?

You didn't have to be rich to get scrubbed, combed, dressed up, plunked down in front of a professional photograper and hand-colored, to boot, viz., middle-class me. What do I look here, two maybe? That would make it 1948.

Rock Island Line

What a handsome kid! And the train is the famous Rock Island Line!

Class Photo

I don't know anything about the circumstances of the Johnson family, but why does everyone assume that because this lad is clean, happy, and dressed up in his finest duds, that he is somehow a child of privilege and wealth?

Photographs of this type didn't cost all that much. And even during the depression, they were commonly done - especially of children. His could be an ordinary middle-class family. I have a portrait of myself at that age, posed sitting in a similar looking chair, and we were certainly not rich folks.

This class envy is getting old.

Recycling

Those buttons would make GREAT sock monkey eyes!

So well behaved

My twins are just about the same age as this little chap seems to be and I don't think I could get either of them to sit so nicely for a portrait.

A little on the left

What I don't understand, since this is a posed studio shot, with the posed toy trains, posed boy, staged lighting, and made-for-photography background wall, why didn't the photographer crop out the distracting fabric on the left?

I am guessing that he never expected anyone to see his negative 79 years later, only his prints. And his prints cropped the boy tighter. So why bother to swivel the camera an inch to the right?

[That's a person over on the left. Maybe Mommy. - Dave]

Re: Miami Vice

Not sure if you are referring to Don Johnson or Donald Duck BUT D.D. does not wear pants and I believe Don Johnson does although I don't know for sure. I was not really aware of the pantless cartoon characters until my sons would say things like "are you Porky Piggin' it today?" and being slow on the uptake it took me a minute to comprehend since Porky did not wear pants either. I'll try harder to stay 'on topic' in the future, sorry for rattling on.

Sure he's cute

But can he sing and dance?

Miami Vice

His friends noticed a change after little Donald moved to Florida.

Funny Bunny

That chair looks like a cat to me.

Picture Perfect

Could this child be anymore perfect?

Buster Browns

I was not a child of privilege as this portrait might suggest -- quite the opposite. But I can't help but wince at the clumsy leather shoes my mother also made me wear, making me a klutz among my sneaker-shorn peers.

Such a well scrubbed little laddie!

What a cutie! Seeing his shining face compared with poor little Shorpy all covered with soot tells the story of two Americas, one for the wealthy, another for the poor -- of course these two fellows were at least, what 25 years apart, but still, what a difference!

Still, despite those shiny shoes, the plaster step he was seated on is cracked and broken in places. That stair and the stark lone (scary) bunny chair seem to belie the little boy's tidy costume.

 
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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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