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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Postal Flyers: 1923

Postal Flyers: 1923

Washington, D.C., 1923. "Post Office clerks, calisthenics." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Sun in their eyes

It looks to me like the sun is in their eyes, and no one looks their best while squinting! I actually think the second from the left, in the front row, might have been quite attractive, but she is very fair and the light is really obscuring her features. The next one over looks quite pretty to me. The position they are in isn't very figure flattering,either. I have to hand it to the young ladies on the far right, for their courage. They wouldn't have gotten me anywhere near the edge of that roof!

Not a bustline in the bunch

The flat-chested look appears to be the style. Those outfits no doubt conceal some lovely contours. Maybe that's the way a US Post Office lady dressed to discourage advances from men. It is becoming office attire and surely more comfortable than the corseted wasp waist, draped with miles and pounds of fabric that the preceding generation wore.


Night of the Living Dead '23.


These fashions may look a little frumpy but I'd take them any day over the low-rider, crop-top, protruding-flab look that we see "nowadays."


I like their outfits; I must be way out of style at the ripe old age of 33.


Lay off the smart remarks about the clothes. They may be a bit homely, but boy do they look comfy, flat heeled shoes and all. Just think of the corsets these women would have had to stuff themselves into ten years before. You could wear these clothes on a trans-Atlantic flight today. And plenty of sweaters to ward off those office drafts.

Ah, the girl from the Post Office!

The Post Office girl:
A pretty package but
When I addressed her
She only stamped her foot.

Efficient Operations

Post office studies had shown that the postal employees were much more productive when placed in a hypnotic trans.

[In high school, I drove a hypnotic Trans Am. Psychedelic paint. - Dave]

Up and Down

The decade started with hemlines at midcalf. They plunged to the ankle in 1922, rose back to midcalf in late 1924 and then just below the knee in 1925. The John Held short-skirted flapper look was actually quite short lived -- from 1926 to 1929. Hemlines were starting to drop even before the Crash.

A la Mode

I think for the time period, early 1920's, these ladies are all dressed well, and all but one have their hair done nicely. I have seen pictures of my grandmothers in that time period, and neither of them dressed that well. Styles change over time, and what was stylish then may look awful to people today. I bet there will be some eyerolling at today's styles a hundred years from now.

Where is Miss Reighley?

I wonder how many of these ladies were members of the Anti-Flirt Club.

Jenny will save

If one of the gals flies off the roof, not a problem. The Post Office has considered rescue options well in advance.

Paging Marcel

Duchamp, that is. The whole thing is surreal.

There Seems to be

One rather shy lady tucked in behind the woman on the far left of the picture. Sweaters with belts were all the rage that season.

They're All Z.I.T.'s!

Zombies In Training. Government sponsored, you know. At least a couple *are* scary looking.

A Dozen Makeovers, Please

I'm not one to comment on people's appearance, but these clothes, shoes and hairstyles really make these ladies look unattractive. And heaven help them if one were to have a dizzy spell from the exercise and go careening off the roof.


Some clients of Marcel of Paris up here?

5 from right

She's a smart dresser!

Everyone else looks slightly annoyed by the whole thing, as I probably would be, but No. 5 looks like she's in on a joke, or maybe having a fun flirt with the photographer.

Flapper Era

This was a transitional priod for women's styling. Among many other references try:

OSHA on Line 2

Apart from the obvious safety concerns -— maybe this was a Roaring Twenties stunt in the spirit of flagpole sitting -— I always thought the Japanese invented this kind of workplace exercising.

Style of the times

The lady fifth from the right (in the picture) in the grey suit looks very modern in hair and dress style. A trend-setter?

By the way, there is nothing short of the building being on fire that would get me up there.

As usual for the times

Not a fat one in the bunch.

Temperance Trainees

Wow. Prohibition was in force but, apparently, the slinky flapper fashions we connect with a speakeasy hadn't yet touched the post office. Those are the most uniformly unattractive outfits on Shorpy. Is this what the "cat's pajamas" looked like? Ugh. Which one is Carrie Nation?

Ready, girls?

Our music for today's workout is that new thing, the macarena. Hands out in front now ... and one, and two ...


I would be a bit nervous up on a roof with no guard rail -- if the calisthenics got a bit more active I could see one of these young ladies flying off the roof!

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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