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People We Could Have Watched

If we had been watching people way back when

These are men who you might hope were not watching you. They are employees of the Department of Public Finance’s Back Tax Department. Circa 1920.

Photographs courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection

Our annual “People to Watch” issue focuses on contemporaries, but we thought it might be fun to also do some people watching from the past. Though they all belong to another century, look closely – they’re watching you too.








Training to be future homemakers – the “Home Institute’s” first class, 1895.

Long before anyone ever heard of Destin, Florida or miniature golf, the children of the Barnes family frolicked in Pass Christian, Mississippi in Aug. 1916.

Too bad no one held up a sign. This family group remains unidentified. One gets the sense that the kids are ready to bust out of those fancy clothes the instant that the photographer is finished. Circa 1900.

In another era they would have been yelling, “Who Dat!” The Terminal Café operated at 123-129 N. Basin St.; this photo was taken May 11, 1911.

In the pre shorts and flip-flops era, folks dressed up to go visiting. This circa-1900 photo was taken near the French Market.

Prohibition had been over for five years by 1938 when these men, believed to be employees, posed inside an unidentified wine and liquor store.

Selling clothes poles was not exactly a growth industry, nevertheless there was still a high demand in the pre-electric dryer days of the 1900s.

Keeping people warm was dirty work. These men are aboard a coal barge in February 1891.


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