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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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Comfy Slippers: 1921

Comfy Slippers: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Chas. Schwartz & Sons Co., 708 Seventh Street." Flanking the jeweler, footwear from small to large, and a palmist-medium. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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High-heeled slippers in 1917

Mata Hari (Magaretha Gertrud Zelle) dressing on the morning of her execution:

Then she drew on her stockings, black, silken, filmy things, grotesque in the circumstances. She placed her high-heeled slippers on her feet and tied the silken ribbons over her insteps.

She arose and took the long black velvet cloak, edged around the bottom with fur and with a huge square fur collar hanging down the back, from a hook over the head of her bed. She placed this cloak over the heavy silk kimono which she had been wearing over her nightdress.

Her wealth of black hair was still coiled about her head in braids. She put on a large, flapping black felt hat with a black silk ribbon and bow. Slowly and indifferently, it seemed, she pulled on a pair of black kid gloves. Then she said calmly:

"I am ready."

"Slippers" revealed

Before the 1940s, "slippers" was the word used for any woman's shoe that didn't lace, button, or buckle up. In the 20s and 30s it was especially commonly used to refer to fancy dress shoes, especially backless ones.

One of the websites I frequent recently posted an old news story about a starlet who was killed with a slipper. Everyone laughed until a later story confirmed that the "slipper" was a gold lame dress shoe with a four-inch stiletto heel.

The Windows

I love looking at the windows in these old pictures to see what is going on. It seems today when I look up at buildings they just look blank. I don't know if that is because I'm not studying them or because air conditioning has sealed the buildings up.

A note about the open window in the winter: My apartment building in DC is so well heated that I frequently leave the windows open so I don't bake. Perhaps those open windows are a sign of another overly heated building.

Another peeper!

There seems to always be one.

I want to go shopping

But how am I supposed to get into the hat shop if hats are in the way?

Blout's Blockade

The display case in front of the doors makes it look as though Blout's is trying to discourage people from entering. I like the blanket on the auto hood.

Look up!

There are a couple of nice details in the windows above the storefronts. On the left-hand side, top row of windows, there's a guy peering out at the world. To the right you can see a bottle of milk and something else (butter?) left outside to keep cold (I remember doing that in college, until one night it got too cold and I ended up with a beersicle). On the top floor of the Blouts Building, one window is wide open (with snow on the ground), and there are interior shutters in the right-most window instead of curtains. The next story below has shutters across all of the windows.

On the second floor above Adler's store, you can see the big spotlight in the photography studio, which has nice big windows to let in natural light. And if you look carefully, you can see interior shutters folded against the interior window frames.

A lot of nice period details in this shot.


I've been reading lots of popular novels from the 1920s and the women are always talking about the slippers they wear to this place that that. I've come to realize that "slippers" were what we call shoes.

It seems to me that calling them "slippers" differentiates them from the high, button-up shoes of a decade earlier.

The horse blanket

on the hood of the car at lower left! Now that's what I call a cold day.


The milliner's shop is now a Ruby Tuesday.

Does the milkman have a ladder?

It'll be hard to get the bottle from the fourth floor window ledge.

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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