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About the Photos

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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Reverso: 1890

Reverso: 1890

Circa 1890. "Frances Benjamin Johnston (right), full-length self-portrait dressed as a man with false mustache," posed with two similarly cross-dressing friends. The "lady" is a gent identified in a few other FBJ photos as the illustrator Mills Thompson. Albumen print by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.

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Crossdressing for fun and for profit

The costumed photos of Johnston and her friends, cross-dressed or not, show the elaborate lengths they went to in having fun. And there was a lot of "mainstream" cross dressing in the 1890s, some for masquerades, but even more in plays and in vaudeville. Here's a photo of chorus girls dressed as rich young toffs in the 1893 revival of the popular musical comedy "The Black Crook," originally produced in 1866, and frequently revived for decades.


You know, I'm starting to wish that Shorpy had a "crossdressing" tag.

[Come back in a year or two. - Dave]


I misread that as "FBI" and thought, wait, this is before J. Edgar Hoover's time.

Painting revealed.

Ah, we get to see the painting that was hidden in the previous image. I'm still amazed by that gigantic door, though.

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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