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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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Clown Concert: 1923

Clown Concert: 1923

May 1, 1923. Washington, D.C. "Children's Hospital Circus." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Play It Again, Sam


I see now where Woody started his show business career and where he developed his love for jazz ensembles.

Later in life he switched from the saxophone to clarinet and instead of playing with clowns he plays gigs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

I also heard he is a fair to middling playwright, actor and director.

Scary Clowns?

I only started hearing about scary clown may be a decade or so ago. When I was growing up, clowns were funny and maybe a little stupid, but not scary.

The children do not seem sequestered to me. Of the ones that are visible, they are all in the first row of the balcony/patio with the nurses behind them.

And as for drawing conclusions about whose having the most fun, of course it would be the adults. For the most part they are hospital staff who are trying to cheer up a bunch of kids who are sick or injured enough to be hospitalized.

It is certainly impossible to judge whether the kids are scared to death or just too ill to be having much fun.

Re: The guy playing the alto sax

For all those concerned, that is a curved soprano saxophone.

Hospital Clowns

It took Hospitals a long time to figure out kids find clowns scary. I am told that today they recommend not using clowns as decor Pediatric offices and Children's hospitals.
And I am an adult and I still find clowns creepy.

The guy playing the alto sax

is really not funny and plenty scary!

Instruments of Destruction

I wonder how bad that trombone and baritone sounded? They are completely trashed. It looks like someone took a small ballpeen hammer to that baritone. Fits in with the clown theme perfectly.

Quick, send in the clowns.

Don't bother they're here.

Quick observations:

1. This photo reinforces every creaky stereotype about creepy, scary clowns .

2. The adults (especially the nurses) seem to be having a much better time than the children.

3. The kids have been sequestered a safe distance from the clowns.

4. Considering clowns to be lovable or funny is probably a societal norm that has to be learned (like chewing with ones' mouth closed) rather than an inherent human emotion. See #2 above.

Fun for whom?

It looks like the hospital staff is having a great time, even if some of the kids might have been scared to death!

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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