SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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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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At Ease: 1919

At Ease: 1919

        Soldiers from Walter Reed Army Hospital back from the front in World War I, enjoying a trip to the theater.

Washington, D.C., 1919. "Walter Reed boys at Shubert Garrick Theatre." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Inevitable creepiness

Many of them have the "dead eyes" look from blinking while the emulsion is still collecting light from the flash, many of them are just holding their eyes closed presumably because they knew it was coming, and several of them appear to be holding their eyes wide open to prevent themselves from blinking. All three looks are creepy to me.

[As you and others have noted on these pages, the "zombie effect" comes from the exposure being long enough to show your eyes both open and closed, if you happened to blink. - Dave]


Why do so many have their eyes closed? Hard to believe that many blinked at the same time.

[Blinding explosions of flash powder do tend to have that effect. - Dave]

Not a good idea

Given the flu pandemic of 1918-19, having recuperating troops attend a theater, might not be a good idea.

The lone Marine

fifth row. Also one Black soldier.

Not just soldiers

Several sailors, and I think I can spot a couple of Marines, too.

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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