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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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The Slammer: 1919

The Slammer: 1919

1919. "District of Columbia Jail." Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Hard times

I'll bet it sometimes felt like the walls were closing in, especially if that toilet started backing up.

Two for the price of one

Don't miss the top bunk, pulled up against the wall. The stager definitely paid off on this listing.

In the Mood

A couple of candles and a flower or two would do wonders on conjugal visiting days.


TP-free, I see.

I would have spent the days

Counting those darn rivets.

Soft on Crime

A patterned blanket! Whatever next?

That looks horrible...

but I guess that was the whole point in 1919. It certainly is the definition of the bare minimum.

Bleak, but it could be worse...

The cell is fitted with an earthenware toilet that lacks both a toilet seat and privacy. However, it was an improvement: The previous generation of prison toilets were solid iron and very cold indeed on winter days.


I'm planning on remodeling our powder room, this picture gives me lots of handy decorating tips. Thanks!

Too hot or too cold

There's no way that this jail cell would be comfortable. It looks more like a brig on a battleship than a jail on land.


I had to spend a short time in jail before (nothing real bad or violent, just a stupid mistake). It sucked being in there but I'm grateful that I didn't have to spend it a cell like this, and that there was television.

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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