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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VOLUNTEER FOR VICTORY

A Fast Crowd: 1910

A Fast Crowd: 1910

Washington, D.C., circa 1910. "Georgetown Preparatory varsity track team." Dry plate glass negative, Harris & Ewing Collection. View full size.

 

Grades.

IMHO, from top left to bottom right:
5, 10, 8, 10, 4, 8, 7, 6, 5, 7, 8,

At ease

What speaks to me most in this image is the absolute ease between all the men, the closeness, and the confidence in the photographer's arrangement of them. There are no self confidence issues apparent. None of the little empty squeamishnesses young males now exhibit when in close proximity.

Even when you see it today, there is a struggle to make it seem ironic or explicitly lampooning their motivation. Our culture has really changed from this moment in time (I know that is so very obvious a statement, but the men sitting in the front on the bench aren't acting mawkish, it's so refreshing. And sad that I expect it.)

This is my first visit to this site, and it's remarkable (now that I'm a bit older I suppose) how easy it is to relate to the similarities in our current and past lifestyles instead of only the differences I saw when I was young. None of this seems as foreign as it once did, except for the level of constant self-awareness we've reached.

Carrot Top Alert

Fourth in, you can spot a redhead (or possibly ginger for our friends who make the British distinction). Interesting how you can tell that from the features. Yes, sprinters and middle distance runners tend to not be skinny-legged because they need that powerful burst. The Marathon Man is the stringy one.

Speaking of sprinters ...

In a university survey a few years back women were shown pictures of identically dressed non-famous male athletes from a variety of sports, the sports not indicated on the photos, and asked which ones had the most attractive bodies. Sprinters were the winners, and by a considerable margin.

It's not just the length of your spikes

Sprinters' spikes tend to be longer than those of distance or field athletes. Only one man seems to have moderately long spikes and several have just nubs. Most of the men would have participated in more than one event and may have had more than one pair of track shoes.

Elastic

Looking at the various images of athletes makes me wonder about their clothes — particularly, the elastic waistband. These fellows don't seem to have them, so when was it "invented"? Did folks think it was a big deal when it was?

Model Runners

Such handsome faces. Such skinny legs. Were they all sprinters?

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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