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Office Xmas Party: 1925

Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's two Fridays before December 25, time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Christmas Party! Which has been going on for 95 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 Ground Hog Day. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Those Eyes

The beauty sitting against the desk gets me every year. She looks exhausted.

That old gang is back!

The Christmas Party Picture is back! I'd actually forgotten about it, so a quick check of Shorpy was the most welcome way to end my Friday. The week to come will reveal new snarks about these buddies of ours, and I look forward to that. Thank you, Shorpy!

It sounds crazy

... but I swear the bear moved a bit since last year.

Still GOGO after all these years

I love the bald guy just visible in the back row with the traffic signal "ballanced" perfectly on the top of his head. Very steady!

Most popular gal

My favorite - Oil Can Sally - has three gag gifts displayed. That probably makes her the most popular woman in the office. In addition, her provocative smile suggests a hangover was in her future!

The Leveling

To paraphrase William Makepeace Thackeray "It was in the reign of President Calvin Coolidge, that the above-named personages lived and quarrelled ; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now."

Hip Flasks

Even the Bear won't tell, but, I am sure the oil can will.

1925! Prohibition! Almost every woman had one and, I am sure, that there may be a few here.

Maybe, that's why Gladys sitting with the Bear and oil can, is smiling knowingly?

Even the person who introduced Prohibition had a still in his basement.

"It was 93 years ago today"

Happy Christmas, John! Happy Christmas, Yoko!...Esther, Mary, Eugenia, Mabel, Nellie, Ida, Clara, Edith, Winifred, Maude, Violet, Gladys, Daisy,Doris, Agatha, Gertrude, Elspeth, Velma, Thelma, Myrna, Hortence...

I'm busy here!

You Shorpyites who fantasize about folks from over 90 years ago -- How strange you are.

And all your blather is distracting me from my mission of saving the saintly Love of My Life whose shoulder had been latched onto by the Evil Witch with no opposable thumb ...

I must complete this pesky time machine before Christmas.

Season's Greetings!

I look forward to this picture every year. I like that it's been a running thing here for so long, because I see it as a way to bind all us Shorpyites together. No matter where we live, how old we are, what we're doing in our lives, we can all stop here and comment on this picture, wishing everyone a wonderful holiday. Thank you, Dave, for providing that for us.

I wish all of you that read this a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2019 be the year you've been waiting for.

Holiday Romance

I see that its time to renew my holiday romance. Every year I fall in love with the young lady the farthest to the left. Brings warmth to my heart, of course, I don't dare tell my wife.

That Temptress!

All these folks saying they see something new each year -- nuts. I first laid eyes on the beauty behind the oil can, what -- a decade ago now? And she has had me in her spell ever since. It is now officially Christmas season for me.

Ion Dept. Xmas

I have followed this wonderful Xmas photo for years but have never commented, till now. I always wondered what I might say, since so much has been said. But what really made me start this year -- the thing I’d never really noticed before – the new thing! – is that guy (head) craning behind the Xmas tree. Compared with all the other people, he’s really only half there, penciled in, lacking in the vibrancy and heft of every other person. So I guess my comment is: Merry Xmas, Ion Tree guy! (And Merry Xmas to all my Shorpy sisters and brothers, and of course to our all-puissant but beneficent overlords, Dave and tterrace, who make this daily joy available to us all.)

[Or maybe Ion Guy is just tinseled in. - Dave]

Was the Electric Company a Communist Front?

Psychodramas? How about it looks like Alger Hiss and Whitiker Chambers’ cousins were exchanging Christmas gifts in Washington in 1925. Alger’s stands to the left and Whitiker’s to the right—significant? Whitiker’s cousin looks like someone socked him on the forehead and Alger’s has a smile on his face.

[Ahem. Whittaker, not "Whitiker." - Dave]

The Boss

The one sure thing about this photo is who the boss is, probably flanked by his second in command to his right.

Ghosts of Christmas past

It really is curious that we can scrutinize a picture like this every year and each time we notice something different that we did not notice before. This year, while observing enlarged close-ups of these people's faces, I see resemblances to many of my own acquaintances, friends and public figures and one can almost even determine the personality and attitude of each person. I think the young lady standing on the extreme left, second row, closest to the door, looks like a younger Martha Stewart. I also know that these happy holiday office parties are quickly disappearing due to the current lawsuits involving harassment, etc. so the people of my generation (old fossils) can move into the history books with them and just remember how it "used to be" and know it will never be again.

This festive group gets a prime spot in that chapter and exemplifies what it was like, for better or for worse. Party on kids, 'til the end of time.

Sure Sign

Of the Season: this picture on Shorpy (Thanks, Dave) and "A Christmas Carol" on TCM. All the best to all wherever ye might be!

Work or Pleasure

Is the machine on the desk at the right (above the In Box) a record player brought in? A radio? Or is it merely some office device like maybe a phone-related routing/switchboard machine?

Also, wingtips apparently were in style.


This pretty gal looks exactly like my wife. I just printed out the image and am going to show her tonight.

Reminds me of "The Office"

I can find the whole cast from Dunder-Mifflin -- Michael, Jim and Pam, Dwight Schrute, Stanley, Kevin, Angela, and Phyllis.

Let's dance

Hey, did anyone remember to bring their Lasses White albums?

Every year

I feel sorrier than the year before for the one sitting on the floor with her back to the desk. She looks like she is just waiting for the party to be over so she can throw herself out the window.

That Girl

In the middle front, her hairdo reminds me of a poem my mother (b. 1915) used to recite:

There was a little girl who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

[Nursery rhyme by Longfellow. - Dave]

The distant gaze

As fun as it is, I think we're way overthinking the motives of the 5 or so "looking away" women. Yes, even the comment-generating pair of the sultry one in the lower left corner and the one sitting to her left who appears to be staring her down. It was evidently fashionable for many decades for women to "look into the distance" for a portrait photograph, and I think that's all they're doing here. My theory is that this practice started as a way to prevent the "zombie eyes" effect of the exposure capturing the blink after the flash. My mother always did it, even when I implored her to look at my camera with everyone else.

Nothing puts me in the spirit like --

this pic, a glass of egg nog and Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on a loop! Merry Christmas all!!

Season's Greetings

This is simply the greatest captured moment in the history of office photography!

Night Before Christmas

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
but a company Christmas calendar, the same as last year.


I bet if those girls had a voice today there would be some explaining to do.

It's here! It's here!

The Shorpy Christmas Cheer office party picture is here! Smack dab in the middle of Prohibition, the gang at Western Electric make merry with two or three hundred stories or thoughts about what the heck was going on in their heads!

My favorite is the seductress "oil can" Sally with her bathtub-gin induced come-hither gaze!

Merry Christmas!

Lady in the foreground

I've also wondered (several years in a row) about the lady with her back to the desk. The thing that really stands out to me, is her hair. As far as I can tell, she has her hair swept back in a bun, which is clearly very old-fashioned compared to all the bobbed and shingled ladies in the office.

I know this is a bit far-fetched but her clothes and hair suggest to me that she wasn't an office worker, as they give the impression of having less money to spend on herself. I wondered if maybe she was the office cleaner/ tea lady who was called in to be part of the photo?

It could explain why she seems a bit distant from all the others in the group.

What Are They Thinking

I've enjoyed this picture year after year, and like many who had suffered through office parties, I often thought what goes through their minds.

Click to enlarge.

The scraggly looking tree

in the picture most probably was bought with donations from some of the people in this picture.

Older Shorpyites will no doubt remember the single set of lights on the tree. The lighting "outfit" was an inexpensive 8 light series set, with C-6 miniature based bulbs. When a bulb burned out, it was time to hunt for it with a good one...unscrewing every bulb in the set until it was found.

I remember helping my grandmother do just that. For some reason, the C-6 series set was always at the top of the tree. Grandma would get up on a stool, with me holding the good bulb, and switching it one by one until the set lit.

Wonderful times. Timeless memories.

Sturdy Desks

I guess the nine guys head and shoulders above everyone else are standing on two or three of these desks. Curious as anyone about the office relationships and the lady sitting in front of the desk. My eighth year of wondering and guessing about this picture.


This picture puts the "mass" back in Christmas.

Those were the days

I really do miss the office Christmas parties from my working years which gave us an opportunity to meet, greet and schmooze with people we hadn't seen in 20 minutes. Merry Christmas to all, rejoice and be glad.

SNL Time Traveler?

That person standing directly to the left of the tree is either a time-traveling, cross-dressing Pete Davidson from SNL or his Great Grandmother worked at Western Electric Group in 1925!

Shorpy - I look forward to this picture every year and am a regular viewer of your site. Even have a couple of large prints on my walls at home, with another coming soon!

Thanks for this site - it's one of the pleasures of my day!

Every Year and I am Still Captivated But I Don't Know Why

Thanks Dave, I'm still enjoying this for some reason I don't understand, and I'm still curious about the front and center oil can.

Phyllis Diller

"What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day."

Old Friends From The Office

Are like warm Gluehwein to heat the cold heart at Christmas.

Merry Christmas my Shorpyite friends and a Happy New Year to everyone, especially Dave who keeps all of us in memories. [updated]

Oh My Goodness

I had no idea it was so close to Christmas. We really need to finish the baking...

This is my first Christmas

I see 26 men, 21 women and hundreds of possibilities.

I amost know these people

My Great-Great Grand uncle was Dan Richardson, a senior accountant for Western Electric in the New England/Northeast US area. He certainly visited Washington D. C. during his time with Western Electric, and would have met and worked with one or more of the people in this photo.

Odd to think I could, via relatives, have been introduced to these people.

It's time

This picture (and the myriad comments) are so entertaining, I sometimes search for it when I'm feeling low, even in July! I especially love Oil Can Sally's come hither look.

P.D. cloche

Wonder what she's hiding under that hat?

I have seen this picture for six (I believe) years now

But today, today there is a new face, one I instantly recognize, that I would swear was not there in any previous year.

I once found my wife's doppleganger (Trackless Trolley) in one of these pictures. Today, I find my youngest daughter, Cecilia (16); she's poking her face out between the 2nd and 3rd fully visible women on the left side of the photo (their right) from the tree.

Ok, it's spooky Dave.... but I'm starting to believe someone has a time travel machine, and everyone but me in my family is using it.


I love seeing this picture every year. As do my co-workers. Thank you.

Re: Seek and ye shall find . . . GO!

Jim Page - I had to badge my way past security and up the elevator before I was stopped by the secured door.

Seek and ye shall find . . . GO!

TimeAndAgainPhoto, that's a great job of investigating one of our favorites, but I'm convinced that if you'll just badge your way into that office, you'll find a fellow in there with a traffic signal on his head.

I hope so, anyway.


Using John J's sleuthing on the location of this office, I recently ventured there to see if any resemblance to the photo remains. I got as far as the only door in the hall on that floor. Nothing appeared to remain.

Afterlife Office Party

This photograph has become a holiday tradition for me, as anticipated as my Christmas eve tradition of baking cookies, wrapping gifts and gently placing a dish towel under Uncle Trouble's chin so he doesn't drool on his good shirt after passing out on the couch.

Scanning the full-screen photo, I wonder if a small corner of the afterlife might be populated by tenants doomed to spend eternity at a perpetual office Christmas party for some workplace sin like stealing lunches from the office fridge, pilfering office supplies, or failing to replace paper or toner in the printer. I can picture Dickensian clarks with ink-stained fingers forever mingling over paper-cupped eggnog with 60's swinging secretaries, Old Kingdom robed Egyptian scribes trimming the tree with bored mid-level Qing Dynasty bureaucrats, and that impenetrable knot of young IT guys and gals speaking in that techno-babble, side-eyeing the boss, forever giggling.

I imagine the mirthless rounds of the eternal white elephant gift exchange: the Take Me to the River-singing fish going round and round and round the conference table ad infinitum. I can see the everlasting greasy pile of stale taquitos, timeless sips from the bottle of booze hidden in the file cabinet, Starbucks Christmas Jazz CD playing in an endless loop -- the horror.

Goober Pea

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