A Young Man’s Dormitory, 1911

This picture comes to us from Shorpy, which is a very fine web destination.

I beg you to click on the picture to enlarge and then spend some time staring at this young man’s bedroom wall. Several of the commenters at the Shorpy post have spent some time figuring out who is who in the selection of baseball cards behind him. There are so many things I love in this photo, from his dirty white pants to the canopy above his bed, the short broom on his desk, the mysterious note on the bed. I admire crisp, simple modern design, but staring at this room makes me want to wallpaper my studio in postcards, keepsakes, and — of course — baseball cards. This student was expressing himself through the art of careful, personal curation. He’s making a “what I like is what I’m like” statement with this room, something that is usually associated with the facebook generation, but is actually just a habit of privileged young people of all eras. Whether it’s picking out outfits, rearranging your bookshelves, making a mix tape, or gluing baseball cards to your wall, we have all, at some point in our lives, tried to find ways to viewed as the human embodiment of all the beautiful or interesting (or powerful or funny or obscure or…) things we have collected. By that standard, this kid might be the most beautiful person I have ever seen.

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Summer Anne Burton is a writer and illustrator living in Austin, Texas. She is drawing pictures of Every Hall of Famer.

8 Responses to “A Young Man’s Dormitory, 1911”

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  1. Illinois glass M. Michael Sheets says:

    Summer Anne could teach a course to all writers on how to make an image embiggenable with just one click. It’s a lost art. Dayn’s, in particular, frequently won’t embiggen unless multiple clix are applied. Well done, Summer Anne.

    When I try to imagine Carson’s bedroom, this is exactly how I picture it. Complete with black and white photos.

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  2. therood says:

    I can definitely see The Christian Gentleman on the wall there and maybe Addie Joss.

    No collection of this period is complete with Jim Delahanty; he must be hidden behind the Young Man.


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  3. Also spotted: Dirgibiles, Steamships and Trout.

    To this dapper gent Feng Shui, was, and will never, be a part of the lexicon.

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  4. reillocity says:

    Near the young man’s left ear, bottom row, fourth from right: Jamie Moyer of the Chicago Nationals

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  5. MTUCache says:

    Bottom row, second from left… T206 Honus Wagner?
    (Issued 1909 to 1911, right?). Instant quagizzionaire!

    Obviously this kid was an aficionado of American Tobacco Company products, as well as Victorian era stroke material and postcards of Classical Revival buildings.

    Also… what is this dude wearing? When his sensei sees how dirty he’s gotten since he left the dojo, he’s going to be pretty pissed.

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    • MTUCache says:

      Also, what’s with the S&M knots on his (roomate’s?) bed?

      No wonder Prohibition was enacted… these guys obviously knew how to party.

      ….Need to stop looking at this picture. It’s beyond fascinating….

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  6. nu billy baroooo?! says:

    Its like MySpace from 1911, except people saw this

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