JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's two Fridays before Christmas, time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Xmas Party! Which has been going on for 98 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.

        It's two Fridays before Christmas, time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Xmas Party! Which has been going on for 98 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

"Mildred, what did you do with my flask"?

This party was during the TEETH of prohibition too! The REAL fun will come later.

There he is!

Every year I look forward to seeing dear old Mr. Hilter at the top of the picture looking so skeptical!

A Merry Christmas to You All!

It's been a rough few years for me (family deaths, health issues), and my Internet usage dropped off considerably. I may have stopped commenting, but I never stopped reading, and I've looked forward to this photo every year for a long, long time. I'm glad that for all the things in flux in this world, the Shorpy Office Xmas Party remains the same.

I wish you and yours the very merriest and happiest of holiday seasons. May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white. :-D

Well, what else?

Say, we don't view the full size for a micro-study. What we see is the "pyramid" of working stiffs that retracted into one side of the office against the forceful advance of upper management group. Sharp diagonal dividing line was disturbed somewhat at the bottom, by the lady and gent behind her.


MarkJo - nice job finding the real names!

I'm fascinated by the different names and nicknames in all the posts. Then I scroll to 12/23/21; alex_shorpy did a great job labeling everyone. Or go further back to 12/22/19 and see davidk's comment.

I also don't look at these folks as having turned into dust. Every year they come alive in the imaginations of many readers.

Maligayang Pasko to all.

Looking daggers?

Susanhumeston wondered, "The blond miss sitting on the floor is looking daggers at the moody looking woman sitting against the desk. I will always wonder why."

I have always been intrigued by that interaction. Pretty much come to the conclusion that three of the ladies were diverted by something off set to the left. One (Charlotte) clearly annoyed, one (Lila) merely taking it in, and one (Gwen) mildly amused.

Meet some of the boys ...

Introducing ...

Charles S. Barker, District Superintendent: "With the right personnel and a good organization, you can do anything in telephony"

E.N. Searles, Division Superintendent

J.E. Grant, R.D. Dick, and...

Walter W. Lodding, Division Accountant
... with an invitation to Christmas at the Loddings':

This image was featured in the December 1926 issue of the Western Electric News with the title: "YOUTH AND THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT" and caption: "Santa Claus did right by this little lad the son of W.W. Lodding of the Installation Division 11 Headquarters"


After passing this photo around for everyone to look and laugh at, it was probably hung on the wall for a time, then taken to someone's home and put away in a chest and forgotten ... perhaps copies were made.

But how would these people feel if they knew that almost a half million people have studied it?

Also those desks have been in their current positions for a very long time, the floor below them new and pristine.

[This was not a casual snapshot -- the National Photo Company was primarily a news service. Its photographs appeared in newspapers, advertisements and publicity material. This particular image might have been used for Western Electric's in-house newsletter or a company Christmas card. - Dave]

Thank ya Dave for clearing that up.

Merry Christmas to all Shorpians!

May your holidays be merry and bright. A special Merry Christmas to Dave and tterrace who keep this very special website going. And to all pictured from that office party held nearly 100 years ago, a Merry Heavenly Christmas to all!

Half a Million

I expect that the number of reads for Office Xmas Party will pass 500,000 shortly. Is this a record number of reads for a Shorpy photo?

[Office Xmas Party holds the No. 2 spot. Shorpy's most popular post is ... Lady in the Water, with over 640,000 reads. And at No. 3 is The Beaver Letter. - Dave]

What is on the hand of the number 2 guy next to the boss?

There is something on his pointer finger and thumb. Could these be some type of grippers for leaving through papers? Could it be he was working until they forced him to come get his picture taken? He is clearly annoyed to be there. Maybe he is plotting to have the boss removed so he can be in charge?

Holiday Party Fun (2023)

Dear Shorpy folks and friends of the site.

This year I used this very photo to make a SPOT THE DIFFERENCE game at our work Christmas party.

Each of the participants had 20 minutes to spot all 19 differences. I used Photoshop and AI to make the changes to the photo and we all had so much fun with it.

If you would like me to post that image here, you may have fun too! Let me know Dave!

Also, we have some new friends that might be joining us on this site as they were fascinated by all the expressions of this 1925 party. I did inform them of the site and URL.

Merry Christmas everyone

Finger Waves

The blond and brunette whose backs are against the door and doorjamb, respectively, look modern. The other modern looking girl is two rows in front of them, also a brunette. These three look timeless. The other women either still have long hair wrapped up some way or they have those awful finger waves that look like ridges in their hair. None of the girls that have finger waves have benefitted from that style. It does not flatter any face shape, it just looks weird and kind of Bride of Frankensteinish.

The blond miss sitting on the floor is looking daggers at the moody looking woman sitting against the desk. I will always wonder why.

Well, having had time to ponder

about these folk for a good decade since discovering Shorpy, I have come to a tentative yet preliminary assessment.

The only woman with no apparent makeup and yet the most beautiful features is the lady sitting on the floor at bottom left. Really in a class of her own in this crowd with those almond eyes and high cheekbones, yet with hair and dressed a bit out of date, but still sporting brand new shoes judging by their soles. How they got her to sit on the dirty floor for the pic is beyond me.

In any case, the photographer has just given her a huge suggestive wink, and she's snapped her head to the right in response, looking faintly amused / bemused, no doubt used to the unwanted male gaze. The woman second to her left is staring at her, annoyed that Gloria (for that is her name) has caught the roving eye of the photographer instead of her -- the body language is obvious. The flapper two to the left of Ms Envious is giving the photographer a bit of a come-on with her lopsided grin -- she has sussed out his game.

Mr Fatlips the boss is terminally near-sighted but for photos and thus posterity takes his glasses off when posing, as one can see. What he looks like with them on is a subject for a horror movie.

The rest of the crowd barring a few are to a greater or lesser degree tipsy on smuggled-in booze, it being Temperance Time, er, prohibited drinkees time in America

I'll have an update in future when other things become more clear to me from my favorite Shorpy image.

Merry Xmas to all!

Fire Extinguisher

Just behind the gentleman with the "GO" signal on his head it looks like there is a classic soda/acid fire extinguisher that I noticed for the first time today. Conveniently located next to what appears to be a rather combustible tree. Season's Greetings to Dave, tterrace and the whole Shorpy gang.

In the office

It's hard to imagine this bunch "working from home". The dynamic would be lost with a "Zoom" holiday party.

It's finally Christmas ...

... when this bunch show up. I checked; they're all there. Proceed to celebrate. Merry Christmas, everyone xoxo

Macabre variation

Although certainly macabre, I do like the door that iamjanicemarie tentatively opened and that HarahanTim swung fully open. In what order did these people pass? The annual response to this photo has definitely taken a curious turn, but I’m glad to chime in.

First to go, I believe, was Boss Man with the cigar, the very next morning, in the wee hours. He’s clearly in bad physical shape, a massive coronary waiting to happen. And it wasn’t the fault of one of those young ladies sitting on the floor that it happened in her bed. It was a different time when office and sexual politics were vile, and everyone was drunk.

Last to go was Heather on the far left in back, framed by the glass of the door. She’s only 23 in the photo, and she lived right into the next century, dying at 102 in 2004. She had moved back to Ohio, and on her last day was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even one of her great-great-grandchildren. They all loved her very much.


This firm has a very stable workforce. Every year, it's the same folks in the Christmas photo.

Seems Like Old Times

Nice to see familiar faces, even though I never met them. However much they aged after this photograph, we'll never know, so just once each year, it's 1925 again.

Welcome Back, Dear 1925 Office Party Friends

. . . and all Shorpy friends, too!

I look forward to seeing this wonderful photo every year. These folks never age, unlike the rest of us. I find this reassuring: life goes on, as it did for the office partiers whose lives continued through the Depression, WWII, and possibly even on to the 1990s. I always wonder who they were and what happened to them.

Here's to a Happy Holiday season and a peaceful 2024.

Old friends

I never get tired of this party and these coworkers. The job, yeah, I'm sick of it, but the people make it all worthwhile. I feel like I've known them forever.

What's up with the gals?

Are they wearing kryptonite jewelry?

My Newest Favorite Christmas Tradition!

I have gotten to the point of looking so forward to this party each year, it has indeed become one of my favorite Christmas traditions! LOL

For most of those attending the party, they are indeed, "living life!" That is so valuable, the ability to live life. On a personal note, I am learning that this year, having lost my precious wife in March, to Dementia. As iamjanicemarie well noted, all of these, are now just "dust in the wind."

Which makes me wonder, in what order did they pass? Did some in the picture in 1925 not survive till the party in 1926? Who was the last to go, and in what year? In the hundreds of comments, some pointing out actual things, others just speculating ... we can learn one lesson.

Live Life Fully Every Day. Who knows, a hundred years from now, you may still be having an effect on someone who you never even met!

Merry Christmas, Shorpy family!


That was a quick year.

Another Year Gone By

Been seeing this annually for a long time now, am I the first to comment ?? Anyways all these souls, their troubles and happy days are behind them and now are just dust in the wind … enjoy yourselves as we will be dust too! Merry Christmas

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!

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Accessibility Statement | Site © 2024 Shorpy Inc.