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Office Xmas Party: 1925

Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's the week before Christmas, time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Xmas Party! Which has been going on for 97 years now. Will Clarence in Sales ever get up the nerve to ask out Hermione from Accounting? Is there gin in that oilcan? Ask the bear.

December 1925. "Washington, D.C. -- Western Electric Co. group." There are enough little dramas playing out here to keep the forensic partyologists busy until Groundhog Day. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Mistletoe and High Voltage for all the women!

I love how the ladies' hair has that "Bride of Frankenstein" look ... creepy yet sexy. It reminds me to get the yule log out.

Group Analysis

Obviously far too long a comment, but Shorpy is so inspirational. Still had fun thinking and writing, as well as viewing picture again.

I was wondering about the woman at the far left. She is showing a sideways glance, and nobody else in the picture has a sideways glance. A sideways glance can be a powerful indication of attention to a subject, like romantic attention or professional attention or just surprise, but in any case something out of the ordinary. Like here, it seems different, just that one woman.

Trying to analyze a sideways glance, there is the face angle (determined by the nose angle) and the eyes angle. For a sideways glance like this, the eyes are directly pointed at the subject, but the face is pointed elsewhere. Using a reasonably limited choice of angles (0, 15, 30, 45) and expressing angles as "eyes angle / face angle" (eyes come first, most expressive), then this mystery woman with the sideways glance could be a 0/30.

Directly below her on the floor is a 45/0 woman, and her eyes angle is the extreme opposite. Seems absolute difference between the two angles can show degree of interest or attention, not the amount of either angle. With any 45/0 difference then attention seems to be very much elsewhere. The 30/45 woman to her right apparently has her attention directed to the same subject, but not to the same degree, more a casual interest, just a difference of 15 between her angles.

And the next woman above is a 30/30, also looking in that direction, but no difference between her angles, no indication of interest or attention, just looking.

Also just looking, but now at the camera, are all the 0/0 men and women, no differences, the largest group. They seem to be posing conventionally for the picture, and there is no apparent sign of interest or attention (other than to the camera). The exact pose varies by individual, some are smiling more than others, but they are all 0/0's. Some 0/0's may be simple conformists, and others may be nonconformists bored stiff (they can still smile, for the camera), but you can't probably tell which is which from the picture.

The big boss on the right is a 0/0, and the men in line with him are mostly 0/0's too, diligently following his traditional example. Above him are three 45/45's, you may not be able to tell about attention or interest from a 45/45, no difference there, in that way like a 0/0. However they are definitely not posing for the camera in any conventional way, not following the big boss example, and probably not in line to succeed him. His successor would probably be a 0/0 closest to him.

We could also consider tilt angle of the head as a variable, but that's more difficult to determine, because it varies with perspective, further away or closer to the camera. Also could consider extent of smiles, but that also difficult to determine. Eyes angle and face angle (nose angle) should be easier.

These angle measurements are probably useful only in a posed office photo, like this one. In a family photo 0/0's can be visibly full of emotion. And in real life anyone can look at you straight on, a 0/0, with amazement or fury or love or anything else. So angles won't help much in real life, although a sideways glance can still show interest and then create reciprocal interest, even mutual interest.

Every year they look a bit younger

Meanwhile, every year I look less like my father and more like my grandfather.

There's one in every office.

Frank is holding up an equipment assignment sheet while calling (vainly) for the frivolity to end and a return to work. He will not succeed.

The big read 1925

I wonder how many of them were concealing new books in their purses, briefcases, or desk drawers. It was an era of readers, and 1925 was a banner year. Here are some of the newly-printed titles waiting for them in bookstores:

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Hemingway, In Our Time
Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Dreiser, An American Tragedy
Christie, The Secret of Chimneys
Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer
Cather, The Professor’s House
Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Milne, a Winnie the Pooh story at Christmas
Kafka, The Trial (if you read German)
Proust, Albertine Disparue (if you read French—though some of them may still be working through the 1922 translation of Swann’s Way).

By December, early subscribers could have accumulated ten months of the new “New Yorker.”

But let’s hope that they still had a few years to be blissfully unaware of Mein Kampf, published in Germany in July.

Love the ones you're with

Thanks for the labor of love and commerce Shorpy is. Years ago this photo evoked for me speculations about what may have divided these office mates. Now what comes out of this photo is the love that is possible if only ... with enough time and enough patience and enough "having lived through" being absent from one another we arrive at a finality of cherishing "in spite of" or even "because of" the uniqueness we bring.

Christmas Trees

If nothing else, we have made great advances in Christmas tree technology.

Go-Go indeed

I just wanted to second the man at the back, being bald myself. Go Go, folks.

Sober thought

Fourteen years of beautiful fascination. Wonder if some folks who commented earlier, by now "are with the people on the photo" too?

The finer details

I’ve chosen to focus on some of the smaller, obscure points this year in my investigation of this beloved photo. The woman in the bobby hat towards the left? Go south to the hand of the woman in front of her, the hand on the shoulder of the woman in the light-colored dress: that hand looks disembodied and is therefore creepy. Person who looks most Photoshopped in? The woman to the immediate left of that hand, staring right into your soul. Stuff like that. The picture is positively filthy with wacky, kooky, scary little things.

Gag Gifts?

I look forward to this party every year, and I notice something new each December. It's occurred to me that everyone in the photo is holding some kind of small gift, and all of them look like "white elephants": a toy horse, an oil can, a little bear, a toy policeman's hat—perhaps it was a "Secret Santa" kind of gag gift swap, and each gift was appropriately unique to the receiver. The photograph makes every one of these people forever young, and I always wonder what happened to each one of them: all those life stories that we'll never know. (I hope they all got a Christmas bonus!) Happiest of Holidays—and a Happy, Healthy New Year—to every Shorpyite.


Has changed much from last year. Remarkable.

My how time flies

Seems like it was just a month or two ago when last Christmas flew by with this pic.


Obviously, this is another photo in the Shorpy Hall of Fame inaugural class, but the best thing about it for me is that it was likely taken when my mom was just a newborn, having come into this world on December 17, 1925. Merry Christmas to all and a Happy Heavenly 97th Birthday to my mom!

Sad or Stimulating, or a bit of both?

Having been recently retired, with no more company Christmas parties to attend, I am faced with a conundrum.

Is it sad that the 1925 Christmas Party on Shorpy is now the Office Party I look forward to the most, or is it tantalizing that the faces and actions of these folks, now long gone, give all of us smiles nearly a century later?

Let this serve as a reminder to treat every moment as if that moment is also "frozen in time"!

Merry Christmas, Dave, and the entire Shorpy family!

Merry Christmas!

I'm a faithful reader of Shorpy, have been for over 10 years now, since I joined up. Every year, I always look forward to the Shorpy Office Xmas Party picture. I don't know what it is; maybe it's the continuity of it. We know every year we'll see it, and every year we'll get to talk about new fictions we've created for the people therein. It's such great fun.

Grateful Holiday pome

These people, alas, are all now dust.
But we on Shorpy surely must
visit them once more.
Cheer to all on Shorpy!

A white elephant party?

I hadn't thought of that and now I'm disappointed. For years I have been daydreaming about the oil can lady, the one with the unnervingly lascivious direct look.

Then I remember she'd be old enough to be my grandmother. Jeepers.

Time travel?

Either Johnny Depp was the original Doctor Who time travelling as a woman or his mother was working Working for Western Electric that Christmas

Re: Go-Go

VictrolaJazz asks if the mini traffic signal on the head of the man at the back, to the right of the tree, has been commented on before. Yes! Many times over the years, in fact. This would provide a fine opportunity to review the long and enjoyable string of comments where you will find the following: Going to a Go-Go (12/12/2020), Still GOGO after all these years (12/20/2019), Festive Dress (12/19/2015), Must have been a heck of a party (12/23/2014), No one seems to have noticed (12/14/2012), Office A-Go-Go (12/25/2010), Slow on the uptake (12/24/2010), Kimono-wearing parrot? (12/23/2010), I can’t find Don Draper (12/23/2010), Naughty Naughty (04/21/2009), Getting Oiled at the Office Xmas Party (12/15/2008), Dramatis Personae (12/15/2008), and, finally, A Story in every face (12/15/2008) which includes a Dave link to a Shorpy post with a real GO-GO traffic signal in it.

We need those names!

The spectacular Massafornian colorized image should have some labels for the people in it.

So, here we go.

(Gimp and Python/PIL scripts did the job)

Re Office Stories

Nice commentary! You really bring life to this party.

Thanks for the Memories

Thank you for publishing this picture again this year. It just doesn't seem right to not have these wonderful people wishing all of us a Merry Christmas. I wish all of the Shorpy readers and the Admins a Merry Christmas also.


Kudos, Massafornian! At first I thought, hm, some of those dresses are awfully bright, but then I realized of course that for the office party some people always wear a “special” outfit. I doubt that woman in the red satin dress would have worn it any other day but it’s so Christmasy how could she resist!


Kudos, Massafornian! At first I thought, hm, some of those dresses are awfully bright, but then I realized of course that for the office party some people always wear a “special” outfit. I doubt that woman in the red satin dress would have worn it any other day but it’s so Christmasy how could she resist!

A White Elephant In The Room

May explain the oil can, the Honey Bear, and all the other strange gifts.

I don't know how long the White Elephant Gift party has been around, but my wife and I just had one at our house.

That is one thing that I have been looking at all these years on Shorpy (the crazy gifts), and now realize the crazy gifts could be from the White Elephant in the room.

Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year to all my Shorpyite brothers and sisters.

(Thanks archfan. Good to know that it is still around after all these years)


Is that something hanging from the wall or sitting on the man's head as a prank? Has it ever been commented on before? Though not shown, there has to be a portable Victrola and stack of jazz records somewhere for when the party gets hot! This was the height of the Charleston era and there are plenty of flappers present!

Office Stories

@ DavidK - If you have Photoshop, try downloading the PSD and you’ll see their names in the layers palette. The oilcan lady I named ‘Janelle’ because she looks like my cousin who has that name. I believe ‘Janelle’ to be the well-regarded office trickster.

The aging lush in the top-right standing group of men is named ‘Redd’. Me thinks he’s barely evading his mortality this fine evening, and perhaps is about to fall off of whatever he’s perched upon, to be carried out to a waiting cab, muttering something about his childhood pet dog, Wilberforce. After his early departure his hip flask was found on the floor, where he fell. No one knows what happened to it, or its contents.

The leader of the pack is named ‘Boss’, for obvious reasons. My wife thinks that perhaps he has a familial connection to ‘Bertha’, the large lady in the red dress. Boss’s blotch is an expanding skin growth. By 1945, it will have grown over his face, poor fellow. Unfortunately, the portly Boss died of a heart attack in 1946 while un-crating his new supply of Consuegra cigars and munching on a donut.

I note in this photo that there is no evidence of food or drink, save the candy canes. So while we have conjectured on this post about the state of inebriation these people might be in, strong drink seems unlikely at this event, particularly in the age of prohibition these people find themselves in. (Redd is the exception, having brought his own supply of spirits.) The food might be in another part of the room, but the lack of it has me thinking that this event was a relatively brief gathering after work.

‘Lulu’, the office pixie, is only 19 years old. She is Boss’s niece. This makes her somewhat problematic for all concerned in the office, and something of a political figure. She’s not exactly incompetent at her job, but the office matriarch, ‘Ursula’ (sitting on the floor in the green dress) was grudgingly forced to hire her. Lulu got married to a Studebaker salesman in 1928, moved to Pasadena in 1930, and had 4 children. She died in 1988 in a car accident.

The thing about the brooding ‘Lila’ that no one knew was that she had a very wealthy aunt in New York City. In 1934 her aunt passed away, and Lila inherited nearly $3 million dollars in property and bonds. She moved to the Upper East Side in 1936, but never married. She lived to the age of 103, dying in 1998.

Here's a closeup of Lila:

Merry Thank You

Because it's never Christmas until the Office Party and new Office Party Comments.

Cast of characters

Absolutely outstanding job of colorization, Massafornian!
It really brings out details that were easy to overlook.

I see the Serbian Anarchist, peering out just to the right of the Big Boss with the cigar, and wonder what he's planning. And the guy hiding just below the life of the party, with the STOP/GO headgear - he looks like he's hiding something, for sure.

But is the Big Boss truly the Man? My money is on the distinguished looking silver haired gent at the top right, overlooking the affair with a cautious gaze ...
And, who really *is* the mustachioed guy to his left, glaring at the photographer?
Is he worried about this photo getting out? Does he appear on a Wanted poster??

At this rate

I'm thinking that by the 2025 centenary we should be ready for an animatronic enlivening of this ongoing party.


Agreed, davidk ... most likely she's a downright dollbaby but there is a definite glint in her eye and you must admit she has a secret or two or ten. Maybe she's even got something on some of the other girls.


What a great comment, thank you. I’ve never colorized, and I use Photoshop for barely 10% of what it can do, but I truly appreciated your insight into the process. More amazing is that you’ve named them all. Gosh, I’d love to know who the others are, in addition to Mary, Bobbie, Lulu, and Lila. And how honest to share with us your faves, Mary and Bobbie, made legit by your wife asking. I agree about Lila: trouble. Also the lady with the marcel wave in the purple dress and blue coat with fur fringe behind the bear and oilcan and house: you might think of her in off moments but you could never make it work. (What’s her name?) Thanks for explaining about Remini because I wondered how their teeth and various other features were so brilliant and precise. And don’t worry about the rouging: it raised the temperature on the whole event (and not just on the ladies – it’s perfect for that guy third from the left in the upper right, the older fellow with the red tie, who’s had too much to drink or is about to have a stroke or both). One more thing: I’d never really noticed that unsightly blotch on the forehead of the boss with the cigar – you did it full, gross justice. Again, great job, and thanks, man!

Not nefarious

I’ve had my eye on that woman on the far left in front of the ION window for years, JennyPennifer. She has a touch of high color, and I really like that ringlet that has broken loose by her right eye. She seems mild yet ready for fun. Not naughty.

A bit more on the colorization

The colorization was done by hand, for about an hour most every morning, when I had the spare time while listening to podcasts. I started in early January and completed it around April. I am sure that most Shorpians know that colorization is tedious, mostly due to the need to mask objects and details as much as possible, to distinguish them from other objects. (The Christmas tree with its fir needles and tinsel was a bit of a job). Automated colorization just doesn’t compare in quality to doing it by hand.

Each person is a smart layer in Photoshop that in turn contains many layers of isolated bits to colorize. The fun part was choosing the colors of people’s attire. Hopefully what I chose is close enough to what this cast of characters might’ve actually worn in 1925, but I won’t claim any historical research was performed for color accuracy.

I could easily spend the same amount of time on this image again, by further masking textures and smaller objects, and separating their colors. If anyone wants the original layered PSD to do more magic, you can have it here:

You have exactly one year to post the next refinement!

You might notice in the high resolution version that the faces are oddly higher resolution than the surrounding parts of the image. This is a bit of AI deployed on the faces, called Remini. Google it to learn more, but in a nutshell, Remini analyzes a face that is low resolution or blurry and magically reconstructs it in high resolution by drawing from a huge library of face components. Remini reassembles face components onto a map based on the original image. The process is hit-or-miss as far as how it can interpret low-quality image data. It was fun to apply it to this image one face at a time and integrate the rendered AI faces back into the master image.

I feel that I know all these characters in the photo intimately, having spent a lot of time on each one of them. I’ve given them all first names to distinguish the Photoshop layer names. My wife asks me which lady I might’ve fancied back in the day, and I think it’s a tie between ‘Mary’ (the blonde in front of the ‘504’ door wearing purple) and ‘Bobbie’ (third-to-the-right of ‘Lulu’, (the pixie by the desk), with brown hair, a green coat and blue dress, looking directly into the camera). Those two have nice, approachable personalities. I’m intrigued by ‘Lila’ (the mysterious lady on the floor in front of the desk), but she’s perhaps too brooding for 1925 Me to take on; and ‘Lulu’ is far too racy and trendy for my sensibilities.

I was born in 1963, so I imagined a lot of these people from 1925 as being my many older relatives who were a huge part of my childhood in the 60’s and 70’s. My grandmother was born in 1890 and her gaggle of five sisters had birth years that ranged between 1885 and 1902. Though elderly, they were all alive and vibrant for most of my childhood, and greatly influenced me.

I’ve been patiently waiting for this time of year when Dave publishes this wonderful photo, to submit my contribution. I think this version turned out pretty nice.

@ Born Too Late - my geographical fate is the opposite of yours: I started out in the Alameda, California and moved to Massachusetts some 20 years ago. Massachusetts is really a great place to live—weather be damned!

@ DavidK - Yes, ‘Lila’ did indeed turn out to be beautified by the AI software, Remini. In retrospect I think I got carried away with rouging people’s cheeks, but without it, the skin tones just seemed too flat.



Time For A Rhyme...or Two

It's Christmas Party time again, so back to yesteryear,
To faces from so long ago, we now hold somewhat dear
They lived through their pandemic, and now we've had our own
For some, it was an ordeal; of much more time alone,
Yet, gazing at these faces here shows us things will improve,
And then to next year's gala even more will gladly move!
A Merry Christmas to you all, here at this special time
I thank you all so very much for bearing with my rhymes,
May next year's party be the one our current trial's behind us
But our friends from 1925 will be there to remind us ...

A very special thanks to Massafornian for the superb colorization!

Girl At The Far Left

No one tried to say a thing
When they took him out in jest
Except, of course, the little neighbor boy
Who carried him to rest

And he just walked along, alone
With his guilt so well concealed
And muttered underneath his breath
“Nothing is revealed”

Old Friends

I've seen this picture so many times over the years at Christmas time on Shorpy that the faces have become like familiar old friends. I'm of the opinion that Christmas will never be the same for me unless I get to see this photo at least once during the Christmas season.

Egad! New versions!

Shorpy Patreon members have been treated to a short, elegant--well, creepy--music video in Ken-Burns-goes-Edward Gorey style. And now a colorized photo with costumes straight out of Technicolor heaven. And in 2021 they all sneaked in to party on Saturday!

Up to good or no good

I am incredulous that I have never really noticed the girl at the far left of the photo, just in front of the door -- the last of the women. She is concealing something. Knowledge or intent, benevolent or nefarious ... no matter. Keep a weather eye on that one.


As we head into Covid Christmas #2, it again strikes me that these folks would have no idea what working from home would even mean. (Taking in sewing?) Here they are, in joyous proximity one to the other, while we are still asked to distance, mask up, etc. Their mingled exhalations, their casual touches, the humid density of their gathering – how I envy them. Well, we come here to dream and fantasize, don’t we? Happy holidays to my fellow dreamers and observers and to the hard-working trio who bring us the stuff that dreams are made of.

Everybody's back in the office

Nobody's working from home and the party is ON! Happy holidays!

Bravo, indeed

Well done on the colorization, Massafornian. It adds a level of vibrancy to an already-lively photo of an intriguing bunch of people. I’m also surprised at some of the effects, for example the oft-commented-upon woman in the lower left, sitting against the desk, craning her neck for a beady glare offstage – the rouge on her cheeks and the lipstick blunt the ultra-crazy impression and make her look, dare I say, somewhat fetching. Thank you for your addition to this seasonal favourite. And best of the season to my fellow Shorpsters and to the toilers in the digital mines who bring us this much-loved website.

As We Seek Normalcy, This Pic Provides it!

The last two pandemic driven years, makes most of us seek glimpses of normalcy. Having this Christmas tradition each year, having a peek into the office Christmas party, gives a moment of that peace. Knowing these, and their children, and their grandchildren...made it through the Great Depression, WWll, the Cold War, etc., etc., still, a moment frozen in time, gives a certain reassurance, that everything is going to be ok!

Merry Christmas, office party, as well as all the Shorpy members that crash the party each year!

Merry and Bright

With retirement, our lives have been simpler here so the Christmas decorations go up earlier and earlier. But it isn't *really* the season until the annual Shorpy office party. Happy Holidays to Dave and the regular contributors that make this place special.'s kind of odd that I get older but none of the partygoers ever seem to. Must be something in the eggnog.

Amazing colorization!

@ Massafornian -- thanks so much for that epic job. It adds so much to an already incredible image. (Judging by your username, I suspect we are compatriots -- I was born in Massachusetts and live in California.)

The Oilcan

Need an explanation for the purpose of the oil can at the party.

[It's not a party unless everyone is well-lubricated. - Dave]

Colorized version

I've been working off and on to colorize this wonderful image throughout the year. Here's the result. You can also find it here in high resolution:

Merry Christmas!

[Bravo! - Dave]

Now the season is complete!

I look forward to revisiting this every year. Thank you!

- Ken

I'd like to be the first this year

Surely, it's not too soon for this Yuletide Jewel ...

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