Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Washington as It Was

[Detail] Memorial Bridge from Virginia shore. 1920-1950.

U.S. History

Theodor Horydczak was a commercial photographer who worked in Washington, D.C., from the early 1920s until he retired in 1959. He produced photographs for commercial clients, such as Potomac Electric Power Company, and scenes that were used on postcards and calendars, as well as for other commercial purposes. There are a large number of architectural photographs, including the monuments, memorials, and outdoor sculpture of Washington, D.C.

The Horydczak Collection can be used to give students a sense of the city of Washington, D.C. during a particular time. The topics listed below provide fruitful areas of exploration.

1) Housing

As a commercial photographer, Horydczak's clients included several real estate firms. There are numerous photographs of apartment buildings and houses, both exteriors and interiors. These photographs include the many housing developments that sprang up in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia to accommodate the expansion of the government which began during the New Deal era of the 1930s.

Search on housing developments for these urban residential views.

Colonial Village

Colonial Village, ca. 1920-1950

Search kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms to compare these interiors and contrast them with modern rooms in middle class homes today. Some areas students could compare are the types of appliances in the kitchen, the style of furniture in the living room, the apparent purpose of a room, or the social significance of the piano and fireplace (and lack of a television). Students might also discuss the decorations and what leisure activities seem to be expected for the use of the room.

2) Consumer Goods

Horydczak photographed trade shows, store windows, and floor displays that showed the year's models of cars, refrigerators, stoves, and other products.

Search on automobiles, or specific car names such as Studebaker, Cadillac, or jeep to see different models from this era. How do they compare with today's popular models?

Horydczak took numerous photos of home appliances, many for the Potomac Electric Power Company. Students might find photographs of a chosen appliance and list ways they have changed over the years. Students might also arrange photographs in a montage to compare the design of appliances.

Search on refrigerator, percolator, toaster, and washing machine for examples.

3) Washington Landmarks

Horydczak photographed many monuments in the city of Washington. In fact, there are over 300 photographs of the Washington Monument in this collection. Students might discuss why monuments are built, and pick a specific one to study, using images from the collection to illustrate their work.

Search on monuments, memorials, statues, and on specific monuments names such as Washington Monument or Jefferson Memorial. For example, by searching on Washington Monument, students will find a number of photographs, including an unusual image showing Horydczak on Top of Washington Monument.

4) Workaday Washington

The Horydczak Collection contains images that document workers and the kinds of jobs they found in Washington, D.C. during that period. The federal government was a major employer in Washington during Horydczak's professional life. Horydczak photographed a number of people in the government, mostly the civil servants who kept the day-to-day work of the government moving.

Search government employees and government officials to find images of these workers, many of them on the job.

For example, by searching on government officials, students will find this portrait of Mr. Richelderfer, Chief of Weather Bureau, in front of a weather map.