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About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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And the Winner Is ...

And the Winner Is ...

Washington, D.C., 1940. "No caption." Which is just as well, because the picture tells all we need to know: Hoboken and Nebraska are right where they should be. This might be good fodder for a caption-writing contest (or, for the Photoshoppers among us, thought-balloon contest). For the record, what we have here seems to be the winner of the 1940 National Spelling Bee. Details in the comments. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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RE: runners up

I know Eleanor (Shea) Walsh very well. When I saw the photo, I contacted her son, who is a priest in Nebraska. He said it is his mom. She is now in a nursing home in Nebraska. She's a wonderful lady.

So what

At least I'm pretty.

Julie Andrews

in the middle, just having won with the correct rendering of "Expea......." (help! men can't spel)

Enjoying the Shorpy humour here.

Into the corn

...With a nod to Jerome Bixby

C'mon Guys

What, boys can't spell? Just wait till the math competion.
You'll be able to smell the testosterone in the air!

The runners up

Second place: Elizabeth O'Keefe of Hoboken, N.J.
Third place: Eleanor Shea of Omaha, NE.

In 1949 in Omaha, an Eleanor Shea married future candidate for governor and seventeen-year state-court judge Albert Walsh (1926-2009). They became the parents of twelve children. According to his obituary, she survived him when he passed away. I wonder whether she may still be with us.

(As for the victor, Laura Kuykendall of rural Cookeville TN, married Jacob Mullins. They became the parents of five children. He died in 2001 at age 81, and she died three years later.)


Look at all the greasy fingerprints on that trophy!

So There!!

Ya gotta love that smug expression on Miss Hoboken.

The City vs The State

If I may ask an obvious question, how come one girl represents a city while the other represents an entire state? Is it like the American League vs the National League? Were there also a couple of other contestants in this competition with signs hanging around them that read "New Jersey" and "Omaha?"

Say It, Spell It, Say It

Plaque, p-l-a-q-u-e, plaque


That the winning word was THERAPY, what does that say about how things have gone since?


On their minds ...

Look at Nebraska

Yikes! Ha ha.

[When I done reading I laugh so hard! - Dave]

National Press Club Decor

This photo was taken in the National Press Club. The carpet on the wall behind the three girls is woven with the Press Club's logo. What's intriguing to me is that the border of this carpet identifies it as a Chinese export carpet, probably woven in Tientsin in the 1920s or 1930s. The border is composed of traditional Chinese Daoist art motifs known as the "Eight Precious Things," associated with the ideal scholarly life. One of those motifs is the beribboned set of books next to Lauren Kuykendall's head. The Press Club could have ordered the custom carpet from the Walter Nichols carpet company in Tientsin through his American distributor, the Pande-Cameron Carpet Company. Here is a detail of the Press Club's logo, and a diagram of the Eight Precious Things from Adolf Hackmack's "Chinese Carpets and Rugs," published in Tientsin in 1923.

Can you spell


Miss Nebraska

Not thrilled. Her first experience of the bridesmaid syndrome.

And the winner of the National Spelling Bee is:

From the great state of Michigan, Ms. Ypsilanti.

National Spelling Bee, 1940

The 1940 National Spelling Bee was sponsored by the Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, which organized the first contest in 1925. Miss Nebraska is perhaps the decorated veteran of previous bees. The 1940 winner was Laurel Kuykendall of Knoxville, Tennessee, and the winning word was "therapy."

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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