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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bureau of Identification: 1925

Bureau of Identification: 1925

Washington, January 1925. "Justice Department, Nat'l. Bureau of Identification." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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With more shadows

This would have made a great Edward Hopper painting.


These appear to be clerks searching the files of what is now the F.B.I. The magnifying glasses were used to view the ridges, loops and whorls on the fingerprint cards. I joined the Bureau in the early 1970's and except for the clothes and the light fixtures it was the same. The Ident Division used to be located at 2nd and D Streets N.W. in Washington. Now it's in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

No Loupe

But that is definitely a linen tester on top of the cabinet in front of the man at the right. It's an open frame type loupe, usually 5x-8x magnification.

Rubber finger

He's wearing the ever popular page turning helper.
What's the purpose of the sponges in the glass dishes?

[Finger-wetting. - Dave]


I believe that is a loupe the man is using.

[He's using his eyeballs. - Dave]

Fan Note

I like the old fashioned fans. I guess people back then didn't need to be told not to put their fingers near a spinning blade. Sadly, those would be lawsuits waiting to happen today.

Mr. Magoo

Is the guy with his nose buried in the book holding a magnifying glass or some such device? Not enough pixels to tell at this size.

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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