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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bathing Beauties: 1919

Bathing Beauties: 1919

Washington, D.C., 1919. "Beauty contests at Tidal Basin." Two spectators check out the ladies. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The skinny on the contest

I did some searching in old newspaper archives and while I can't find mention of the couple in the photograph, I did find something out about the contest. The following is from the Washington Post, 27 July 1919:



Comely Damsels in Scant Attire Win Prizes for Their Appearance.

While more than 5,000 persons clambered to each other's shoulders and to roofs of nearby buildings to view the Annette Kellermanns at the first annual beach parade at the Tidal Basin yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Audrey O'Connor, 620 Maryland avenue southwest, was proclaimed by the judges as Washington's most beautiful girl in a bathing suit ...Following the parade of the score or more of beauties between cheering crowds of bathing beach fans, the former faced half a dozen movie machines and a batery [sic] of press cameras. Later one of the winners obligingly did a modified "shimmy dance" for the movie men.
I think we can assume the individual in the photograph is not one of the winners.


I have been visiting this site for years and this picture is one of the oddest almost scariest I've seen.

As my mother used to say...

There's probably something wrong with his glands.


It's not at all fashionable, but I like a man with some substance, and one who's at home in the body's he's got. Gym rats and calorie counters are so often bores, and this dude, with a cigar in one hand and adorable toddler holding the other, doesn't look at all dull.

The swimsuit isn't especially flattering -- to the skinny guys either, I might add -- but this same man in work clothes or a suit? Sweet!

Not This Time

I am NOT going to click the "View full size" button.

Not so fit and trim.

Hey, what happened to all that talk about"how everyone in the old days was so fit and trim"?

Here's the poster boy for the future of America!

Pink make me look chubby.

Please, please don't colorize this photo.

Dale Carnegie would say

.. .that guy has a really great head of hair.


For a second, I thought that was a beauty contest participant!


Probably not a candidate for the "Handsome Rake" tag. In fact with those "man-boobs" I'm glad someone identified this as a male!



UV Warning!

I hope everyone is wearing sunblock.

Rescue me!

Won't you mister?

Thank goodness...

We can all be grateful this is before Speedos were invented.

Fashion Tip

Next time, go with the vertical stripes. They're so slimming.

I can't like it!

Will keep trying until I do.

Shock Theater

Horror pictures now on Shorpy.

Pudding Pop

"Daddy, why is everyone laughing at us?"


The cigar is a nice touch.

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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