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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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Window Shopping: 1943

Window Shopping: 1943

June 1943. Arlington, Virginia. "Ordering clothes from a mail order house at Idaho Hall, Arlington Farms, a residence for women who work for the U.S. government for the duration of the war." Photo by Esther Bubley. View full size.

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A glance at the date of the photo explains the lady's state of undress. It's probably in the 90s, with humidity to match.

Until mid-20th Century, when air conditioning began to proliferate, personnel assigned to Her Britannic Majesty's Embassy in Washington drew the same hardship allowance as they would in Calcutta or Freetown.

Drapes and bedspread

The photo reminds me of my two years spent at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in NYC. Every few months our so, the staff changed out our drapes and bedspreads in patterns very much like seen in the picture.

Window shopping

Looks like she should also be shopping for drapes


Ironic that Spiegel, Sears, and Montgomery Wards were close to today's Amazon business model of ordering at home. Growing up it was also fun to thumb through the pages of mail order catalogs. If only they had managed to hang on until Jeff Bezos and the internet had shown up.

Perhaps Madame would be interested

in something from the "Rosie the Riveter" collection?

Hope they have overnight shipping

The poor girl literally doesn't have a thing to wear and she certainly cannot go to work like that. The old vintage chenille robe hanging on the curtain rod was the norm in the forties. I don't think girls even wear slips anymore but nowadays that would pass for a dress. As for catalogs, what boy doesn't remember looking at the ladies' underwear pictures in Sears and Wards mail order selections when Mom wasn't looking? It was a rite of passage.

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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