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Office Xmas Party: 1925

Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's the weekend before December 25, time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Christmas Party! Which has been going on for 96 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 Collection glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

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

Life of the party

My best guess for "life of the party" status goes to the lady in front with elf buckles on her shoes. I love this image- there so much detail and depth of relational perspective.

Marching In Place

Seeing this picture so many times tells me that I'm growing older but these celebrants have become ageless. Along with that piece of wisdom allow me to add my Seasonal Greetings for a Merry Christmas, a joyous Hanukkah Past and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to all. Of course we are all in the debt of Dave,Ken and tterrace (who may or may not be on the Payroll) for their addictive posts, explanations and comment rebuttals.

From NYC, where the Christmas Eve Fahrenheit is forecasted at 72º.


[tterrace is salaried, deals in a service and is bigger than a bread box. -John Charles Daly]

P. D. Police Dept.

I keep being intrigued by the one and only joker in the crowd, our lady with the "P.D. Police ...." hat. There must be another word after "Police," I suppose it is just "Dept."

Never noticed this before

The men's jackets have creases running the length of the arms. I wonder if this was a customary thing for "the office" or typical treatment "of the times" for pressing? Perhaps this treatment was typical only of a worsted fabric?

Nothing but the best at Shorpy!!

Thanks for this expected post!

Department Name for Room 504

Western Electric Company
Installation Department
5th Floor
1319 F Street
Washington DC

(From the 1925 Washington City Directory)

This department installed Central Office equipment (testboards, operator switchboards, signaling equipment, etc) supporting both local and long distance telephone service.

Google street view has an office building that looks old enough to be our Christmas Office party location. Perhaps another Shorpyite can add the street view for us.

[It was built in 1913. Interestingly enough, it's just one building away from Harris & Ewing, another source of many Shorpy photos. -tterrace]


The young woman framed in the door on the left looks remarkably like today's woman who was a business partner of mine.

Oh, Beautiful Lady in the Lower Left...

...let me unwrap that bear for you, before your nearby friend gets more worried that you're not having any fun.

An oilcan!

Now I know the perfect gift to get for all my co-workers. Merry Christmas Shorpy nation.

I look forward to these people each year

They've become familiar yet remain interesting. As I said years ago, we're testing the counter on this one.
Merry Christmas fellow Shorpyites and wish a grand New Year!

The lucky ones

Due to the magic of photography, this happy group has been celebrating now for ninety years. If you enlarge the picture and study their faces and demeanors, you may get some insight into their characters and personalities in 1925. After seeing this photo for many Christmases on Shorpy, I almost feel that I know some of them as well I know my own friends. Merry Christmas to all, especially the Shorpy staff.

Spooky Lady of Christmas Past

I remain endlessly curious regarding the woman with her back to the desk.

Spooky and haunting, amid all the fascinating characters in this classic shot, she is The One.

What are we missing?

Great photo, been seeing it for years now, but I always wonder what else was going on? People are looking left, right, straight, up, down. What was going on out of frame? That lady in lower left looks ready to bolt, especially with the other lady looking on concernedly. If this was a Halloween photo, the massacre would be about to begin.

I've been ill, and maybe delirious...

Festive Dress

The bald gentleman in the back has the best holiday hat I have ever seen, the festive Go Go hat atop his bald head.

Oh Christmas Twig! Oh Christmas Twig!

Considering it is 1925 and an urban area they probably had a hard time locating a showpiece Christmas tree. Probably the best they could do was this poor little immortalized twig.


That's how many people have called up this photo. Over a quarter million! And this isn't YouTube. What an amazing picture. What an amazing site. Merry Christmas to all my Shorpy comrades and a huge thank-you to Dave and tterrace for all they do to bring this amazingness to us every day.

Now it is Christmastime for sure

I couldn't truly celebrate Christmas without seeing this picture again. It must be after Thanksgiving or Shorpy would not have posted it. Any comments I could make about this picture would only be a pale response to all the previous comments. It just makes me try to think what an office Christmas party like this must have been compared to a modern day party. I look forward to this picture every year for some crazy reason.

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