Portraits from Ellis Island

12 Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants

12 million people of every nationality imaginable passed through the doors of Ellis Island. The building opened in 1892, but five years later burned completely to the ground. A larger building was constructed to process 5,000 immigrants per day. On April 17th, 1907 11,747 immigrants were processed.

People fled to America because of war, famine and lack of opportunity. In certain cases entire villages of people packed up and moved – bringing their customs, cuisines and cultures.

The portraits in this series were taken by Augustus Sherman. Sherman worked as a clerk at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1925.

From the New York Public Library.

Timothy O’Sullivan Wigglegrams

Timothy O’Sullivan is best known for his haunting battlefield images of the American Civil War, but after the war O’Sullivan continued his rich and lasting photography career. O’Sullivan joined the United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel in 1867. From 1871 to 1874 he took part in a survey west of the 100th meridian. O’Sullivan’s photographs of the Southwest were used to recruit settlers, but more importantly they provide a glimpse into the lives of the Southwestern American Indian tribes, and a peek into pre-industrialized western landscapes.

The following animated gif wigglegrams were created from scans of original stereographs from O’Sullivan’s photographs using the New York Public Library’s Stereogranimator website (created by Joshua Heineman).

From the New York Public Library.

 

1930s Criminal Mugshots

13 Vintage Mugshot Photographs from Newcastle upon Tyne

From the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

“This mug shot comes from a police identification book believed to be from the 1930s. It was originally found in a junk shop by a member of the public and subsequently donated to Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.” -Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

“No information is available to confirm which police force compiled it, but evidence suggests it’s from the Newcastle upon Tyne area.”

Ansel Adams Landscapes

13 Historic Pictures

Ansel Adams is perhaps the most famous and recognizable photographer in American history. No person surpassed his technical mastery of film photography. Adam’s could take a picture of a white wall, and it would be the greatest picture of a white wall you’ve ever seen. He literally wrote the book on photography. His three tomes, The Camera, The Negative and The Print provide an encyclopedic explanation of film photography.

Adams started his photography career as a 14 year-old on a Yosemite vacation with his family in 1916. Adam’s father gave him a Kodak Brownie camera, and he made his first photographs on that vacation. The next year he returned with a better camera, and in the winter went to work for a photo finisher in San Francisco. By 1927 Ansel had produced his first portfolio of photography of scenes from the Sierra mountains. This first portfolio launched his career, and he would spend the next 60 years creating images of America’s iconic natural areas.

1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Pine trees, snow covered mountains in background, “Burned area, Glacier National Park,” Montana.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “View of valley from mountain, “Canyon de Chelly” National Monument, Arizona.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “The Giant Dome, largest stalagmite thus far discovered. It is 16 feet in diameter and estimated to be 60 million years old. ‘Hall of Giants, Big Room,’ Carlsbad Caverns National Park,” New Mexico.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Taken at dusk or dawn from various angles during eruption. “Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park,” Wyoming.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Front view of entrance, “Church, Taos Pueblo National Historic Landmark, New Mexico, 1942.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Full view of cactus with others surrounding, “Saguaros, Saguaro National Monument,” Arizona.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Sheep “Flock in Owens Valley, 1941.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park,”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Roadway, low horizon, mountains, clouded sky, “Near (Grand) Teton National Park.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “”Grand Teton” National Park, Wyoming.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Close-up of leaves, from directly above, “In Glacier National Park,” Montana.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Close in View of Mountain Side, “From Going-to-the-Sun Chalet, Glacier National Park,” Montana.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Photograph from Side of Cliff with Boulder Dam Transmission Lines Above and Colorado River to the Left.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Photograph of Transmission Lines in Mojave Desert Leading from Boulder Dam.”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Full side view of adobe house with water in foreground, “Acoma Pueblo”
1941-1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “”The Tetons – Snake River,” Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.”

Vintage Political Signs

9 Vintage Photographs of Protest and Political Signs

1915-1923. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. "Lloyd George the Anarchist and Wilson his junior partner," "Mr. Wilson is busy protecting America's enemy. The British Empire," and "Mr Wilson! Murder is Murder whether by a Turk or an Englishman"
1915-1923. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. “Lloyd George the Anarchist and Wilson his junior partner,” “Mr. Wilson is busy protecting America’s enemy. The British Empire,” and “Mr Wilson! Murder is Murder whether by a Turk or an Englishman”
1965. Photograph by Warren Leffler. "African American demonstrators outside the White House, with signs "We demand the right to vote, everywhere" and signs protesting police brutality against civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama."
1965. Photograph by Warren Leffler. “African American demonstrators outside the White House, with signs “We demand the right to vote, everywhere” and signs protesting police brutality against civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama.”
1964. Photograph by Warren Leffler. "African American and white Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrating outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; some hold signs with portraits of slain civil rights workers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner."
1964. Photograph by Warren Leffler. “African American and white Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrating outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; some hold signs with portraits of slain civil rights workers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.”
1981. Photograph by Frank Espada. "Reagan la roba a los pobres Migrant farm worker at a demonstration, Washington, D.C."
1981. Photograph by Frank Espada. “Reagan la roba a los pobres Migrant farm worker at a demonstration, Washington, D.C.”
1938. Photograph by Arthur Rothstein. "Political signs. Vincennes, Indiana."
1938. Photograph by Arthur Rothstein. “Political signs. Vincennes, Indiana.”
1962. Photograph by Phil Stanziola. " 800 women strikers for peace on 47 St near the UN Bldg."
1962. Photograph by Phil Stanziola. ” 800 women strikers for peace on 47 St near the UN Bldg.”
1962. Photograph by Dick DeMarsico. "Little Denise Davidson, 5 months old, sleeps peacefully while her mother, Mrs. Donald Davidson, of 278 Clinton St., Bklyn., marches with ban-the-bomb group outside the United Nations to protest resumption of A-[bomb] tests by the United States."
1962. Photograph by Dick DeMarsico. “Little Denise Davidson, 5 months old, sleeps peacefully while her mother, Mrs. Donald Davidson, of 278 Clinton St., Bklyn., marches with ban-the-bomb group outside the United Nations to protest resumption of A-[bomb] tests by the United States.”
1918. Unknown Photographer. "People dressed as pilgrims carrying three signs for amnesty for political prisoners standing in front of the White House."
1918. Unknown Photographer. “People dressed as pilgrims carrying three signs for amnesty for political prisoners standing in front of the White House.”
1964. Photograph by Warren Leffler. "Delegates on the floor at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; sign reading "Tennessee for LBJ."
1964. Photograph by Warren Leffler. “Delegates on the floor at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey; sign reading “Tennessee for LBJ.”

Lewis Hine’s Newsies

The industrial boom and labor shortage that grew in the wake of World War I left manufacturers turning to an unexploited and growing workforce: children. According to the 1900 census about one in six children between the ages of five and ten were “gainfully employed.”

A sentiment grew among the American public that children were being robbed of their future and education.  The National Child Labor Committee was founded in 1904. Four years later, a 34 year-old photographer named Lewis Hine was hired to document children working in factories, mills and newspaper companies across the country. Hine worked for nearly ten years with the NCLC to expose child labor. And perhaps his most iconic and enigmatic subjects were the newsies.

In Charles Loring Brac’s 1866 book ”Short Sermons to News Boys, With a History of the Formation of the News Boys’ Lodging House,” he describes a scene:

“I remember one cold night seeing some 10 or a dozen of the little homeless creatures piled together to keep each other warm beneath the stairway of The Sun office. There used to be a mass of them also at The Atlas office, sleeping in the lobbies, until the printers drove them away by pouring water on them. One winter, an old burnt-out safe lay all the season in Wall Street, which was used as a bedroom by two boys who managed to crawl into the hole that had been burnt. I was often amused at the accounts of their various lodgings.”

The weight of what these children often endured – homelessness, exploitation and horrific working conditions – adds to the already incredible quality of the photographs. The expressions on the faces of the children in Hine’s photographs are as endearing as they are diverse. Some look awkward, shy and innocent – unsure of the encounter, while others stare directly, confidently, and indignantly at Hine’s camera.

 

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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “Group of Nashville newsies. In middle of group is 7-year-old Sam. Smart and profane. He sells nights also. Location: Nashville, Tennessee.”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “Some of the youngest newsies hanging around the paper office after school. Location: Buffalo, New York (State).”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “11:00 A.M. Monday May 9th, 1910. Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “Johnnie Burns a newsie who sells on Grand Avenue. 9 years old. Father says he is uncontrollable. May 9th, 1910. Father also said his 4 yr. old. twins would be selling soon. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “Boy named Gurley. An eight year old newsie. 18th & Washington Sts. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “Newsies in the paper alley, getting afternoon editions. Location: Rochester, New York (State).”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “The Slein boys. Meyer Slein (12 yrs. old) his brother Abe (10 years old) who has just returned from Industrial School (Reform School). Another brother is in the School. Show effects of street life and are Juvenile Court boys. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
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1908. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “A Pool Room Branch (Chouteau & Manchester). These boys were playing pool and smoking in the Pool Room while waiting for papers. The smallest boy is 9 years old and sells until 9 P.M. (See also 1350, 1351 & 1352.) Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “Truants like these may be found most any day between 11 & 12 A.M. Jefferson St. near Washington. May 5, 1910. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
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1908. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “One of The Newsies at The Newsboys’ Picnic, Cincinnati. Location: Cincinnati, Ohio.”
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1908. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “.”
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1910. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “11:00 A. M . Monday, May 9th, 1910. Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking. Location: St. Louis, Missouri..”
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1908. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “”Livers” a young newsie. Location: St. Louis, Missouri..”
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1908. Photograph by Lewis Hine. “Two 7 year old Nashville newsies, profane and smart, selling Sunday. Location: Nashville, Tennessee.”

Civil War Tintypes

11 Vintage Photographs of Civil War Tintypes

The aesthetic of the Civil War is synonymous with the tintype. Civil War tintypes were inexpensive and easily produced. A photographer could prepare the plate, take the photograph, and deliver a finished portrait to a customer very quickly. And while they were invented nearly a decade before, the demand from soldiers brought about their prominence. Eventually the paper photograph, which could be endlessly reproduced from negatives, surpassed the tintype in prominence.

From the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs in the Library of Congress

1850-1855. Tintype. "Private Charles H. Bickford of B Company, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment as a young boy."
1850-1855. “Private Charles H. Bickford of B Company, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment as a young boy.”
1861-1865. Tintype. "Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform with shotgun sitting next to dog."
1861-1865. Tintype. “Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform with shotgun sitting next to dog.”
1861-1864. Tintype. "Private George H. Hall of Kane County Illinois Cavalry Company and Co. H, 15th Illinois Cavalry Regiment with sword and handgun."
1861-1864. Tintype. “Private George H. Hall of Kane County Illinois Cavalry Company and Co. H, 15th Illinois Cavalry Regiment with sword and handgun.”
1861-1865. Tintype. "Unidentified soldier with amputated arm in Union uniform in front of painted backdrop showing cannon and cannonballs"
1861-1865. Tintype. “Unidentified soldier with amputated arm in Union uniform in front of painted backdrop showing cannon and cannonballs”
1861-1865. Tintype. "Unidentified soldier in Union first sergeant's uniform and unidentified woman in dress."
1861-1865. Tintype. “Unidentified soldier in Union first sergeant’s uniform and unidentified woman in dress.”
1861-1865. Tintype. "Brothers Private Henry Luther and First Sergeant Herbert E. Larrabee of Company B, 17th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment."
1861-1865. Tintype. “Brothers Private Henry Luther and First Sergeant Herbert E. Larrabee of Company B, 17th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.”
1861-1865. Tintype. "Unidentified young soldier in Confederate shell jacket, Hardee hat with Mounted Rifles insignia and plume with canteen and cup."
1861-1865. Tintype. “Unidentified young soldier in Confederate shell jacket, Hardee hat with Mounted Rifles insignia and plume with canteen and cup.”
1861-1865. Tintype. "Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with musket."
1861-1865. Tintype. “Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with musket.”
1861-1865. Tintype. "Edwin Chamberlain of Company G, 11th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment in sergeant's uniform with guitar."
1861-1865. Tintype. “Edwin Chamberlain of Company G, 11th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment in sergeant’s uniform with guitar.”
1961-1865. Tintype. "Unidentified soldier of the 12th Illinois Volunteers, "The First Scotch Regiment" in greatcoat and tamoshanter cap."
1961-1865. Tintype. “Unidentified soldier of the 12th Illinois Volunteers, “The First Scotch Regiment” in greatcoat and tamoshanter cap.”

Slums of DC

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11 Carl Mydan’s Photographs of The 1930s DC Slums
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1935. “Slums. Washington, D.C.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

Washington DC was a very different place in the 1930s. Charactarized by absent public transport, housing shortages and economic opportunists, slums arose across the city. DC was planned with spacious lots, and wealthy property owners, recognizing the shortage of housing and the influx of migrant workers, started building small ramshackle dwellings in the alleys behind their homes. Carl Mydans, a Massachusetts born photographer, came to DC in 1935 after accepting an offer to work for the Resettlement Administration. One of the RA’s mandates was to relocate struggling urban families. The RA was folded into the Farm Security Administration after only a year. When Mydans arrived in DC he found a depressed working class community living in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. The DC alley slums made the politicians on Capital Hill deeply uncomfortable. It conflicted with their image of the city as a gleaming white representation of American virtue and exceptionalism. The Alley Dwelling Authority was created in 1934. They argued that affordable housing was now available, and the Authority was given control to condemn the slums. The reality proved to be different. Housing prices in DC rose dramatically with the boom following the second world war. Monuments and office buildings sprang up around the city, but the working class people displaced from the DC alley slums continued to struggle. Historic & vintage photographs on Photistoric.

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1935. “Slum backyard water supply, Washington, D.C. Backyard typical to a group of houses very close to the House office building, showing only available water supply.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

 

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1935. “Untitled.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

 

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1935. “The Capitol can be seen in the background of this backyard slum scene, Washington, D.C.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

 

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1935. “Slum section near the Capitol, Washington, D.C.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

 

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1935. “Typical back alley in one of the many Washington slums, Washington, D.C. This house is located close to the Capitol.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

 

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1935. “Poor white hallway, Georgetown, D.C. Seldom do these people have even the desire to clear up rubbish, and the broom shown here seems to be out of place.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.
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1935. “Alley dwelling near Union Station, showing crowded, tiny backyards, Washington, D.C.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

 

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1935. “Untitled.” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

 

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1935. “Small girls sitting in doorway of house in Georgetown, Washington, D.C..” Photograph by Carl Mydans.

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Folk Anthropology

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1937. “Woman sitting in car, Texas. Photograph by Ruby Lomax.”
14 Portraits from the Lomax Collection

Alan Lomax was a folk music collector for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. He made acetate and aluminum discs of Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, Jelly Roll Morton and other influential early American musicians. Without the ambitious efforts that included Alan’s father, also a musicologist, and his wife Ruby, many important songs and musicians would have remained undiscovered. Vintage photographs on Photistoric.

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1935. “Gabriel Brown and Rochelle French, Eatonville, Florida “.Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “African American man, sitting outdoors, Eatonville, Florida.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “Bound for Cat Island, June 1935.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1934. “African American convicts working with axes, Reed Camp, South Carolina.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “B’Rabby, Andros Is[land], Bahamas.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “Man wearing tie, standing, facing front, possibly from the visit by Alan Lomax and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle to Andros Island in the Bahamas.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “African American children playing singing games, Eatonville, Florida.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “Man standing on ship, facing right, taken during Bahamas recording expedition.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1940. “Rosendo Arce at Casa Ricardo Hotel, Kingsville, Texas.” Photograph by Ruby Lomax.
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1935. “Woman seated in porch swing, Eatonville, Fla., taken during the Lomax, Hurston, Barnicle 1935 expedition to Georgia, Florida and the Bahamas.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “Alexander Rolle (?), Bailiff (?), Old Bight, Cat Island, July 1935.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “Smiling woman, three-quarter-length portrait of unidentified person standing outdoors.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.
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1935. “Man seated holding guitar, Eatonville, Fla.” Photograph by Alan Lomax.

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Gordon Parks

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1942. “Anacostia, D.C. Frederick Douglass housing project. A dance group.” Photograph by Gordon Parks.
12 Early Portraits by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was a filmaker, photographer, director and musician. Among other achievements, Parks published photographic essays in Life Magazine, wrote novels and directed “Shaft” in 1971. Parks photographed Chicago’s South Side Ghetto in 1941. Those photographs won him a fellowship with the Farm Security Administration, a major sponsor of anthropological photography and an institution which employed many of the photographers featured on Photistoric. The following photographs were taken in 1942 at the beginning of Park’s professional photography career with the FSA. They show a photographer who’s already technically proficient and able to capture the emotion of his working class subjects. Vintage photographs on Photistoric.

All photographs © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Continue reading “Gordon Parks”