This September 1924 National Photo Company image of an auto house caught my eye not only because of the delight it sparked in seeing such a novel vehicle, but also because the lack of contextual information set me to wondering and wanting to know more. For example, assuming that the photo shows Mr. Harris and his wife and their daughter, I want to know if this is their primary residence, in which case the auto house is an early and quintessentially mobile mobile home. Or, is it an archetypal recreational vehicle, a custom-made campmobile?
I want to know if Mr. Harris customized the auto house himself after conceiving the idea one day in a burst of imagination. I can picture him working many evenings in his yard bringing his vision to fruition. Finally, I hope that the Harris family drove the auto house from Texas to Washington, D.C., as I envision the many smiles and waves the sight of the vehicle drew from people witnessing the passing-by of these intrepid caravaners.
- Witness the rise of the automobile in early 20th century Washington, D.C. in more pictures from the National Photo Company Collection, including President Coolidge’s new car, automobile racing, and an unruly tree that caused an automobile wreck.
- An American Memory collection Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929 assembles a wide array of Library of Congress source materials from the 1920s that document the prosperity of the Coolidge years, the nation’s transition to a mass consumer economy, and the role of government in this transition.
- See migrants traveling by car during the Great Depression in the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.
- For another photograph that also raises questions due to lack of contextual information, see this elderly couple and their automobile “home” as they dine in front of a car which appears to be equipped with a bed.