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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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Girls Gone Whirl: 1917

Girls Gone Whirl: 1917

Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1917. "Girl Scouts. Activities and play." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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We learned to square dance in the sixties. Of course our partners were female also.

One is silver, the other gold

I think the sense of the song is not to neglect your old friends in your haste to make new ones.


Charming, charming, charming. But how did people ever get out of the house wearing shoes with 187 hooks to lace up? It must have taken all morning! On the other hand, they must have had great ankle support.

"Make new friends"

I remember this little loop thing from my Girl Scout days (or a similar one). Ee sang the Girl Scout song to it: "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." It's a figure 8 and the people in the center do a sort of over-under deal to keep the chain moving.

The song always confused me. Was it saying one was better than the other? If so, which one? Did I really agree with that? The beginning of my falling out with the Girl Scouts, I suppose.

The girl in the middle

There's a lot to like about this picture:

The girl in the middle of the left with expression of unmonitored joy is framed perfectly by the joined arms of the girls in the foreground of the circle. I find that an excellent example of visual design and message becoming one: her expression of joy is made more visually evident through the joined arms of her fellow whirlers.

The dowagers in the background: they are letting the girls have fun without intervening, without helicoptering. At the same time, you know they wouldn't let things get out of control, as the large handbag held by the amazing-hat wearer, perhaps Ruth Buzzi's grandmother, implicitly suggests. I think she's smiling.

The fact that the older girls are having at least as much fun as the younger girls. Also, the fact that I can call them all girls rather than tweens, adolescents, young women, etc. They are all girls.

Suited up

I was an Girl Scout in the '60s, and even our dressiest uniforms would seem terribly skimpy and cheap-looking compared to these wonderful outfits.

And now that I am well into middle age, and built along lines somewhat similar to the matron on the left, I rather covet her dignified outdoor wear (as well as her jazzy hat).

Still dancing 30 years ago

I went to girl scout camp every summer. There was a giant field and two of the counselors would lead us in a dances where we held hands like this and sang songs. It sounds corny but we had a blast.

Girls at play

A thing of joy is a beauty forever.

Elementary Particles

Early simulation of Large Hadron Collider. Target on left.

Today, of course ...

... they'd be selling cookies rather than whirling around.


I really love this image which takes me back to the carefree, playful days of my youth.

SHORPY OLD 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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