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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sam's Back: 1908

Sam's Back: 1908

New York City circa 1908. "Sam Kramer." Bodybuilder and wrestler. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

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Before Spandex

you did the best you could with workout clothes. That's why his briefs are baggy as well.

Nice Arms

It is cool that Sam was able to get that kind of upper body development with primitive exercise equipment and without chemical enhancement. Well developed delts and some pretty big forearms. But those have to be the worst work-out pants ever.


His legs are fine -- those are tights. And of course you can get muscle without steroids. This fellow shows good proportion and realistic musculature.

Dynamic Tension

My dad was a skinny youth serving with the Army Air Corps in Iceland. Bored out of his skull pulling guard duty, he decided to take the Charles Atlas course. Not only did the other G.I.'s stop kicking snow in his face but he remained a pleasantly muscular fellow for the rest of his life.

Same as it ever was.

Most people at my gym today still ignore leg work. Lazy!

Who would've thought

that you could get to this condition before the steroid era? As an added bonus, this clued us to a website called Oldtime Strongman.

Like an Egyptian

Maybe he's part mummy.


The sound of another walnut falling prey to the crushing glutes of Sam Kramer.

Top Heavy

Sam needs to work on his lower body. He seems to have some issues with those chicken legs!


At least back in those days "physical culture" devotees we considered fringe wackos. If only it were so today!


What's with the big Ace bandage on the left leg?

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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