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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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Southern Belle: 1956

Southern Belle: 1956

South Carolina, 1956. More from this series of pictures on life in the South. Color transparency by Margaret Bourke-White, Life magazine archive. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5
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What was the soundtrack?

I would adore knowing what these dancers were moving to.

Him again

There was always that ONE guy in the funny straw hat. Watch any beach party movie.

The "Woe is Me" guy.

This is indeed a happy and bright picture, one we would all like to have been a part of, all except for the downhearted guy in the extreme foregroung. Doesn't anyone wonder why he is so despairing. It brings to mind the song "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen". Another noticable difference from today's teens is that they are all dressed in a unique and individual style, they do not all look like cookie-cutter teens, no copycats. In the past fifty-two years, we've evolved from well=fitted clothes to gigantic drooping drawers, oversize t-shirts and tattoos galore. This photo speaks over a thousand words, it even shows us what we missed in our (mostly) segregated America of 1956. A GREAT picture.

1958, Burlington, NC

I was 11 years old and had grown up in a legally segregated society, and was white and innocent. Accidentally walked into a "colored" diner. All conversation ceased, just the juke box played, and, embarrassed -- and, yes, afraid -- I turned and fled. It had been so loud and animated as I was opening the door.

It was the first of many times over the next few years that I questioned the rightness of segregation: we were taught in the schools that that was the way God wanted it.

How stupid we were!

Hat City!

There are more hat styles in this relatively small space than anywhere else we've seen on Shorpy, I think. Amazing variety.

Loving these

This is another incredible shot. I feel like I'm there.

[You want a Coke with that, Hon? - Dave]

What a great series of pictures

Thanks, Dave. These are such a delight.

[Yer welcome. That Margaret Bourke-White was pretty good with a camera. - Dave]

Things might get interesting

The woman in the lower right doesn't realize her dress is unzipping as she dances. I can't wait to see the next photo in this series.

Mmm Burgers...

Forget the dancing I want a time machine so I can go back and get one of those hamburgers and a Coke for 35¢ that they are advertising on the wall, or maybe the steak plate and a Coke for 80¢.

Please no long-winded explanations of the difference in cash value between 1956 and 2008. Leave me with my illusions of times when all things were cheap, all girls were pretty and all men dressed well.

How candid?

This is brilliant, and just how I'd imagine a 50s roadhouse to be. But its so bright!

Not being a photographer, I'd love to hear a more expert view on this, simply because its so bright - I'm guessing that this must be "set up" lights, and not merely a big flash?

I'm just wondering how spontaneous this image is, because it certainly makes a difference if there's big, hot lights parked around which would give a different atmosphere, as opposed to the more sneaky and unexpected flash.

Hi, btw, I'm a long term viewer but have just stumped up the courage to comment (or rather, pose some questions)!


What a fantastic photo! I am blown away.

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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