The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things

How to scare children in the 1920s

Image of a scary goblin creature peeking out from under the bed of a little girl
Image of a masked creature crawling through a little girl's bedroom window
Image of a furry masked creature sitting on the bed of a sleeping girl
Image of a creature in a dark cape and devilish mask standing next to the bed of yawning little girl

Is there still a small part of you who thinks the bogeyman is going to grab your feet if you dangle them off the side of your bed? Well, these photographs certainly won’t help.

These chilling images come from a series of photographs entitled “The Goblins Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out”, and were made sometime around 1923-1934. They tell a nightmarish tale of a little girl being abducted by horrible creatures of the night.

The photographs were inspired by the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley, which describes naughty children snatched away by goblins as punishment for their misbehavior. Browse through the entire series below:

The images are weird enough as is, but the series originally came as a set of stereoscopic photographs, designed to be seen in three dimensions (see below). Can you imagine looking at these as a kid in the 1920s, and seeing the weird creatures and the girl’s terrified expression popping out at you?

Yes, I know they are overly theatrical and a bit silly, and I’m sure that very few children would have mistaken them for real monsters. But I think it is just as creepy to have an adult in a homemade monster costume sneaking in your window and grabbing you from your bed.

I wonder whatever happened to those homemade papier-mache heads? Are they still siting in an attic somewhere, waiting to freak out the next generation of children?

Sweet dreams!

Found via the marvellous @librarymacabre, and images from comradebat on Imgur. Views of the original stereoscopic slides from Zouch Magazine. Also, please follow me on Instagram for more ridiculously interesting things…or the goblins might get you!

2 comments

  1. These are fascinating and almost look like homemade stereos – do you know the photographer or manufacturer? I’m assuming that there is some sort of writing on verso if you know the dates, yes?

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