Back to Inquiry Set

K.3.4 Office worker on the telephone

The office manager, Armida, takes a call at Beauchamp Penmanship at 145 South Broadway, in downtown Los Angeles.
circa 1922
Photographic Print
Office worker on the telephone, circa 1922. Los Angeles Public Library, Shades of L.A. Collection. https://tessa.lapl.org/cdm/ref/collection/photos/id/80779.

Teachers will orally lead a primary source investigation to support student reading, analysis, and interpretation: What do you see? What are the details? Who or what is in the picture? What do you think is happening in this picture? What actions are taking place? Who do you think created the photograph? Why? Is this work you know something about?  (Sentence starters are provided with this lesson’s literacy support.)

This photo, which shows Armida Torres working at Beauchamp Penmanship in Los Angeles, provides students the opportunity to contrast an office from the 1920s with an office of today and to demonstrate that women were working in the 1920s. Prompt the students to compare the space with an office today — the students may compare the telephone with a telephone today and notice that technology has changed a great deal. Ask the students to think about what they do not see in the photo — a tool that most of us use every day in our jobs, the computer—and how this technology had not been invented yet.