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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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Vacuum Cleaner Cleaner: 1942

Vacuum Cleaner Cleaner: 1942

February 1942. "Portrait of a mistreated vacuum cleaner. It's in the repair shop because it inhaled bits of metal, pieces of wire, hairpins, and other harmful objects. Keep the machine away from such things, clean the brushes and belt regularly, and empty the bag at least once a week." Actually, if your Hoover looks anything like this, you should probably just incinerate it by burning down your filthy house. Photo by Ann Rosener, Office for Emergency Management. View full size.

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Kirby vs. Hoover

The Kirby motor faces forward, unlike this Hoover, which has the motor facing down. I've worked on about 30 Kirbys over the years.

I know a lady who still runs a Hoover that she bought in 1949.

Kirby not Hoover

I recognize the undersides of a Kirby, not a Hoover, with its bottom cover removed. I remember the door to door salesman, all the gimmicks and features of the Kirby, hearing my parents discuss the merits, and how long it lasted. I was under 10 when we got it, and years later I even painted my car using their paint sprayer attachment!

They were very durable machines, though very loud.

Hoovers always seemd so flimsy after I was the family Kirby cleaner for years.

[Incorrect. The vacuum in our photo is a Hoover similar to the Model 750 pictured below. - Dave]

Pure suction

That's why I'm an Electrolux man, myself. I'll take pure suction over that rototiller mess any day. I once used a Hoover to vacuum a challenging carpet and, as in the photo, it became a nasty tangle of hair and fiber and goodness-knows-what in no time. Cleaning off that drum took longer than the rest of the job. No thanks.

The durability, weight

and construction of that machine looks like it could actually grind up cars.

Dirt Suckers

These were listed on Shipper's Bills Of Lading as Cleaning Machines. Radios, TVs, Record Players etc. were listed as Talking Machines

I can recall when things were made to last

Like this old vacuum cleaner, with its heavy aluminum casing, easily accessible belt and replaceable parts. Not like today's plastic junk that has to be replaced with a new one when its fragile components fall apart. Sure they were heavier and probably more expensive in relative terms, but we lost a lot when we became the society of disposable consumer products.

They don't make them like this any more

Even as dirty as this on is, it would be so easy to clean or fix. You can at least expect to find mostly metal parts.

I would love to have one like this.

Sucky Job here.

Worked for Sears for years. This was a common problem with any vacuum that used a beater roller. Some vacuums were so filthy, that the actual fan would be clogged with crud, too.

The fan on this Hoover is clean.

I've seen bags explode because they were never emptied. The owner would blame us in the service department for their own stupidity.

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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