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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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Alpha Girls: 1912

Alpha Girls: 1912

Washington, D.C., circa 1912. "Gunston Hall group." Students at the tony girls' school. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Wonderful lighting

The lighting in this shot is exquisite. Beautiful catch-lights in the eyes, just enough shadow to keep it interesting.

Furry Farkees

Hole in the Head

That 50 penny nail is of course a hatpin.

Fashionable women of the Edwardian period wore very large hats, and to keep them on, very long hatpins were needed. With the suffragette movement in the early 1900s, came the fear of radical women bearing 12-inch hatpins and a law was passed indicating that hatpins could only be 9 inches long. It was believed women were using them as weapons. With the shorter hatpin law, smaller hats also became necessary. The flappers of the 1920s wore cloches very close to the head and they seldom required hatpins.

Hats On!

I'm clearly in the minority, here, because I *like* the hats. I find it sad that woman no longer wear them. And these are all so very different from one another; what an expression of personality!

Fox News

This was not one generation imitating an older one; it was the height of fashion. As "Fur News" would report in early 1920, "fur manufacturers, with their modish designs, have crowded the cloth coat into a secondary place in feminine favor." Later in 1920, the fur market crashed. To satisfy market demand for pelts at the time of this photo, trappers had overtrapped, forcing clothiers in later seasons to use inferior pelts from less mature game.


Actually, the girls are quite attractive. It's the clothes that are so awful. When my brother was in college in the '50s, he was a member of Delta Beta Sigma, and they had a photo similar to this in the yearbook. Those in the know knew that DBS stood for Dead Beat Society.

Honest Penelope,

There is a serious draft in this room.

In Defence

Isn't it just possible that they were having a bit of fun? - that they were deliberately dressing up, trying to look old and dowdy like their mamas and grandmamas? Those hats...surely they're meant to be ridiculous.

You're In !

The girl in the front on the far left proved she was tough enough to join the group after driving what appears to be a 50 penny nail through her hat! Yikes!

Be thankful

Just think, you might have been an alpha male and ended up marrying one of these beauties.

Hat reincarnation

I have no doubt that the middle lass in the back row was the inspiration for Chico Marx's headgear.

Beach Time

Based on some of the previous photos, these girls look like they're ready for a beautiful day of fun and frolic on Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

What good is a fox

if not to keep humans warm! Their hats are wonderful. Look at all the textures on the clothing - beautiful.

Class Photo

I was amused that there were only one pair of earrings showing. Was the poor girl on the bottom left simply allowed to sit with the others for the photo? Her clothing (lack of furs & muff) seems to put her in a different "class."

Wealth, but not taste

I don't think I have ever seen this much poor taste combined with so much hat presence before. Truly, the ugliest hats I have ever seen. Combine the hats with the overwhelming presence of dead animals and you have perfect examples of 1917 "Fashion Don'ts." Sad, for this is actually a very interesting period for women's clothing.


What an impressive assortment of muffs.

Architectural chapeaux

There is an Aretha Franklin joke somewhere here, but I can't come up with it.


Never seen so much fur. They're dressed like their grannies would have been. I think the twenties couldn't have come soon enough.

Got fur?

I feel like a small forest may have been denuded of wildlife for this photo.

Next stop, North Pole

Is it those frumpy clothes, the weird hats or were all rich teens at exclusive Eastern schools just homely?

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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