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About the Photos

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.

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Baba Lulu: 1940

Baba Lulu: 1940

Washington, D.C., circa 1940. "No caption." I guess we'll just have to make one up! Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Miss Conception

"Desperate to have children, Gladys misguidedly explores the rhythm method."

Lulu, you got some 'splainin' to do...

Yes sir.

No more office parties

Commencing immediately, all celebrations in the office will cease and desist. It has been brought to the attention of management that they inevitably cause a total lack of productivity as well as a loss of inhibitions, resulting in personal remorse by employees and strained relationships among our staff, sometimes permanently. Failure to obey this policy will be grounds for termination of employment.

Music hath charms, I hope...

Keeping her head down just in case, Miss Nellie Farquhar attempts to calm an office shooter with her sweetest smile and a selection from the Xavier Cugat songbook.

Looks like my drum

When I was a kid, in the early 50s, I was brought a drum from Haiti.. It was a little smaller than the one in her lap but it did have the pegs & rope holding the hairy head in place.

The family dogs were always very interested in the leather drum head.

Help me

"I'm sitting here on a dirty floor wearing Pinocchio shoes and beating a hairy drum. Where did it all go so horribly wrong?"

They're On Their Way

As part of FDR's Lend-Lease program, battlefield communication bongos are seen here being tested before shipment to Great Britain.


That was pretty much the look on my face the first time I *thought* I got the point of Twitter.

Hide Scrapers

The implements on the desk are hide scrapers. American Indians and other traditional cultures lashed flint (later, metal) scraper blades to convenient crooked bones or branches. Any native village had hides tied to frames. The process of converting raw skins to rawhide or buckskin started by scraping all the flesh off the inside and all the hair off the outside. The well-scraped skin could be used as-is for rawhide, or further processed by soaking in a mash of animal brains, whose enzymes dissolve the natural glue in rawhide. After thoroughly wringing out, the skin was worked and pulled continuously until dry, resulting in a soft velvety texture. After smoking to seal the fibers, the resulting "buckskin" makes comfortable and very durable clothing. I have done this myself with friends in the modern Mountain Man movement.

Auditioning for a chair.

If I nail this drum solo, then I'll be given a seat and maybe even a desk!

Office of Bongo Inspection

Official Press Release
Office of Bongo Inspection
May 23, 1940

Americans need no longer fear an influx of inferior percussion instruments, government officials say. Miss Bea Carruthers, 23, seen here giving a set of drums a rigorous inspection, and her colleagues will help ensure that no substandard hand-operated Cuban drums are sold to the US public. Each wooden drum imported to the US from the Caribbean will now be individually tested by the competent staff of the OBI for solid jive, steady foo, and hep-hep on the mellow side.

In the near future, Office of Bongo Inspection officials intend to increase their vigilance to assure that all cool cat instruments are reet-petite for all Americans.

Bureaucrat at work

That sure looks like a government desk and chair. Somewhere in the Smithsonian?

Madam President

of the Ricky Ricardo Fan Club.

Intra-Office Communication

To: All Personnel
Dinosaur spare ribs in Conference Room 3. Bette Davis' kid sister demonstrates a precursor of e-mail.

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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