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Central Girls: 1910

Washington, D.C., circa 1910. "Central High School." Nine girls looking 99 years into the future. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1910. "Central High School." Nine girls looking 99 years into the future. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Fashionable hair

These young ladies have Gibson Girl hairdos, and they are dressed as young career women in their white blouses and long fitted skirts. This is the sort of outfit worn in the morning (in the Charles Dana Gibson drawings). Later in the day, she liked to wear something frilly and floaty.

Notice the very small waistlines, no doubt made possible by the horrid corsets seen in catalogs and magazine advertisement of the era.

The Prettiest Girl

I think the absolutely STUNNING girl fifth from the left wins hands down. She is thin, tall and aristocratic looking. Remember - no makeup back then, so her eyebrows and everything else, is natural. She is absolutely beautiful.

[Believe it or not, but they had makeup back in the Olden Days. - Dave]

@ "D.C.'s Got Talent"

Bah. Stuff your sanctimony in a sack, Mister. You're overthinking this. What else do we have to go on EXCEPT how they look, plus a wee bit about the the milieu?

10 years after the picture they could've been fishwives, physicists, whores, junkies, nurses, secretaries, actors, or dead.

But who cares? We have a only visual, so we comment on that basis. "Judgment" isn't the salient issue.

The Babe With The Bow

The 4th one from the left is the major babe of this photo. That angelic round face looks like something one would see on a garden statue. If this were the cast of a motion picture, she would definitely be the leading lady and the others, the supporting players.

I thought "Princess Leia" too, but

none of them have the cheese danish spiral on the side, which is a required element.

You have to have an enormous amount of hair to do the do's that these girls have... or use some concealed supports.

Now I know, part 2

where my elementary school playground aide got her hairdo -- from the girl in the center. I'm pretty sure she still has it now (it couldn't have changed much since I left in 2001).

College Grads

One of the greatest presidents we have had was Harry Truman and he only went as far as high school. Some people are educated beyond their intelligence. Whatever the teacher says is right. Some people can't think for themselves.
Look at professional sports. The NFL and the NBA are loaded with people who took up classroom space for three and a half years.

Educated women

My great-grandmother went to a "female seminary" in Tennessee. Her daughter (my grandmother) graduated high school in 1913. On the other side of the family- my father's mother went through 8th grade and then to work.


Before I knew better, I often wondered why my grandfather dropped out after 10th grade (that would be sometime around 1915), when his own father had a college degree. Grandpa lived on his grandparents' dairy farm and had to deliver the milk.

Grandma, on the other hand, although born in 1903, graduated with a Master's degree. She was a proud member of the University Women's Club when it was mighty uncommon for women to pass through the Ivy Halls. A woman before her time!

These gals were definitely the elite of their day. Nowadays, University Bachelor's degrees are what high school diplomas used to be...

H.S. Grads

My husband's and my parents graduated from H.S. (nothing higher) but not their parents. Their education did affect us, however. I met my husband at Berkeley in 1953. Had we remained single, our parents would have continued to assist us with our expenses. When we married, we never saw another dime so, in accordance with standards of our parents day (higher education was more important for men than it was for women), I ended up going back to work to get my PHT(putting hubby through). We weren't surprised, just a little disappointed and we certainly have come out of those years much, much stronger. I don't know -- maybe we should have just very quietly lived together as everyone seems to do these days.

To MHC '97

And her (my MHC grandmother) mother graduated from Pennsylvania Normal College in 1868!

You do realize...

...that every time we get girls posing now I have to double-check and make sure they aren't boys in drag.

High School Graduates

In Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "No Ordinary Times" she states that of the draftees inducted into the armed services, less than 25 percent, were high school graduates. The volunteers probably had a worse rate. When I read that, I knew neither of my parents had, and certainly not my grandparents. I started asking people whether their parents, or if they were young enough, their grandparents had completed high school. The answers I heard bear her out. Take your own survey and see what you think. I know social position had a lot to do with it, but most Americans born before WWII weren't able to finish high school. I graduated H.S. in 1950 and we still had veterans in our class.

re: a big deal

MHC graduate (c/o 1997) here! :) The photos of the early graduates remind me so much of these photos. Some of the physical education photos look like torture!

I feel lucky to have grown up in an era where my education was assumed. My family would have been appalled had I *not* gone to college.

A big deal!

High school was still a big deal in those days! My paternal grandmother, born 1897, desperately wanted to get an education. Her parents thought they were being indulgent to let her stay through tenth grade. That's as far as she ever went. My maternal grandmother was lucky enough to finish high school and go on to Mount Holyoke College (Class of 1908).

They both fully understood the value of education, and never took it for granted.

Nice Arrangement

I like the way the photographer arranged the young women by height, how the two on the ends are (pretty much) turned forward and how the center girl's arm is positioned.

Nice skirt on the far left; a lot of bling on the far right. They are all pleasant-looking, but the third from the left has an extremely attractive face.

I hope none of them caught the Spanish influenza during the big epidemic and, really, I hope they all lived long, happy and productive lives.

"D.C.'s Got Talent"

Having seen the recent fallout from Susan Boyle's appearance on "Britain's Got Talent," we are reminded of the trap we set for ourselves by making judgments based on appearances alone.

Now I know

where Princess Leia got that hairdo.


This was two years before "shampoo" came on the market. I will say no more!

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