April 20, 2018

Portraits of African American Ex-Slaves in the Late 1930s

These portraits of African American men and women from locations in Texas were taken in the late 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) of the Work Progress Administration (WPA). They are part of a group of 500, together with more than 2,000 first-person accounts of the experience of being a slave. People from Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island are also represented.

Most of the photos show individuals standing or sitting outside; a few are posed with or next to personal possessions; several group portraits are included. Some photographs also depict houses in the background or foreground. Additional images depict objects relating to slavery in Alabama, these include, among others, a "bell rack" restraint from the Federal Museum of Mobile and photographs of sales receipts issued to slave owners.

Federal Writers’ Project interviews with former slaves began as early as 1936 with initial efforts concentrated primarily in Florida. In 1937 an official project was organized and placed under the direction of folklorist John A. Lomax who coordinated and expanded data collecting activities throughout the South. The program continued up through the Spring of 1939. Photographs of former slaves were often taken at the time of the interviews.

Will Adams

Mary Armstrong, Houston

John Barker, Abilene

Charlotte Beverly

William Green, San Antonio





In 1896 Workers Attempted to Eradicate Moth Larvae From a Large Elm Tree in Malden, Massachusetts

Medford, being one of the oldest towns in the State, had many very large elms. This was also true of Malden. It was believed by some of the residents that it would be impossible to clear the moths from these trees except by the aid of a balloon. The largest tree in the infested region was selected for trial of the possibility of extermination. This tree is situated on the property of the Messrs. Dexter of Malden, and stands in front of the old Dexter mansion. The tree has been owned by this family for more than two hundred years. If not the largest tree in the State, it is one of the largest.


Early in 1891 an attempt was made to clear the moths from the tree, and a gang of four men, who had had some experience, went to work upon it to destroy the eggs of the moth. After working for several days upon the tree they reported it cleared. Another gang of men was put at work upon the tree, and six hundred additional egg clusters were discovered. Notwithstanding this, caterpillars appeared in the spring upon the tree. It was then sprayed thoroughly, an extension ladder sixty-five feet in length being used, together with several additional ladders placed in various parts of the tree. Later in the season all the holes in the limbs were covered or filled, and the few egg-clusters found were treated with creosote oil.

In 1892 the tree was banded with tarred paper, which was kept constantly moist with a mixture of tree ink, tar and oil. A few caterpillars were found, however, on the tree, having hatched probably from scattered eggs left in the crevices in the bark.

In 1893 no caterpillars appeared, and no form of the moth has been found since 1892 upon the tree. In the inspections of the tree every care has been taken to go over it thoroughly, from its highest branches to the base of the trunk. The dead limbs have been removed and holes have been covered, but no other work has been necessary at the regular inspections. Plate XXXVI shows men at work in the inspection of the tree.


The Dexter elm has the following dimensions: circumference at base, 29 feet; circumference six feet from the ground, 21 feet; height, 110 feet; spread from north-east to south-west, 104 feet. Some of the branches of the tree are 3 feet in diameter.



24 Amazing Behind the Scenes Photos From the Making of 'Raging Bull' (1980)

Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull isn't a boxing movie, it's a movie about a boxer – one whose greatest fights were against himself.

Raging Bull was Robert De Niro's passion project, and it took him years to convince his friend, director Martin Scorsese, to make the film. He read Jake LaMotta's autobiography during the production of The Godfather Part II, in 1973 or 74. While the book is hardly a masterpiece, De Niro saw in it a rich character: a belligerent and insecure beast that took all his psycho-sexual demons into the boxing ring until he eventually reached rock bottom.

Scorsese never cared for sports, and especially not boxing, claiming that what little he'd seen on television wasn't very visual. But after the great director's personal problems with drug addiction led to a collapse (exacerbated by asthma and a trip to the high altitude Telluride Film Festival in 1978), he realized, from his hospital bed, that he and “Bob” were going to make this their next project. (Raging Bull would be their fourth collaboration out of an eventual nine.)

Scorsese hired the genius makeup artist Michael Westmore (who later created the look of nearly every alien species from Star Trek: The Next Generation) to create LaMotta's busted-up schnozz. But the wrap-around scenes set in the 1960s needed more padding. To that end, De Niro one-upped every screen actor before, and halted production on the film for four months to get “in shape.”

Having shot Bernardo Bertolucci's epic 1900 in Italy, he knew where to go to load up on carbohydrates, and set off on a raging eating binge, gaining 60 pounds to play the down-and-out version of the character. De Niro was known to do research for a character — he drove a few shifts as an actual cabbie before shooting Scorsese's Taxi Driver and spent weeks soaking up the atmosphere of a steel town before making The Deer Hunter – but this level of commitment was unprecedented. Luckily, he'd also done some intensive boxing training (with the real LaMotta) for the first part of the movie, so knew some tips for getting the weight off.

Surely, this legendary bit of backstage business, in addition to the remarkable performance, helped secure De Niro's Oscar win for Best Actor.










The 1950s: The Boom Period of Wedding Gowns After World War II

After the shortages of World War II, women were ready for a little luxury. And brides didn't want to skimp on the lace or fabric.

In 1947, French designer Christian Dior caused a sensation when he introduced his "new look," hour-glass dresses with long, flowing skirts - skirts made of yards and yards of cloth.

The billowing skirts and wasp-waist designs evolved in the 1950s and may have peaked around 1956. There are also many other notable designs in this period.

Check out these glamorous photos to see what brides looked like in the 1950s.










April 19, 2018

Mom's World: Lifestory Through Beautiful Photos of an American Woman From the Late 1940 and Early 1950s

These amazing photos from Joey Harrison that were taken mostly by his mother. They show a part of his mom's world from 1947 to January 1954, before he was born.

“My Parents: Jerry and Skip Harrison who married in 1947. Before I came along, and with diminishing returns thereafter, my mom pursued photography passionately and studiously. She created a large body of work centered around her life with my father and her birth family.”

Portraits of my mom Skip Harrison in the early 1950s

“My mom was an accomplished amateur photographer, and she took many shots with her Ansco twin-lens reflex mounted on a tripod with a mechanical time release screwed into the shutter button. She also had a large flood light (which I still have and use for work projects). Many of my mom's shots were taken with a tripod and self-timer. She'd compose the photo, set the exposure, start the self-timer, and race into position. Sometimes she set the exposure, adjusted the light, and composed the shot. Then my dad would simply press the shutter.”

“My mom has been also a utilitarian seamstress all her life. Using her beloved 1950 Singer, she made clothing for my sisters (lots of matching outfits), slipcovers, custom-sized sheets, and curtains. Lots of curtains.”

Mom and Dad at wedding altar, 1947

Bride in a blur, West Virginia, 1947

Mom and dad on their honeymoon vacation to Pittsburgh, 1947

'Our wedding night', 1947

Steubenville's Kit Kat Klub, Ohio, 1947





25 Vintage Photographs Capture Daily Life of American Children During the Great Depression

During his 50 year career as a photographer, Arthur Rothstein documented a great variety of subjects, including baseball games, war, struggling farmers, and U.S. Presidents.

After his graduation from Columbia University, Rothstein’s former professor Roy Stryker, the head of the Photo Unit for the Resettlement Administration (which would later become the Farm Security Administration) made Rothstein the first staff photographer at the Resettlement Administration. Rothstein spent the next five years creating some of the most iconic images of rural and small-town America during the Great Depression (1935-1940).

Rothstein’s work for the FSA earned him $1,620 a year, with an allowance of 2 cents per mile and $5 a day for food and lodging. While on the job, Rothstein carried with him only what he needed.

During the five years that he spent working in this division for Stryker, Rothstein took around 80,000 images, many of them later becoming some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression. As he worked on producing these images over his five-year career at the FSA, Rothstein kept in mind that the documentary work that he was doing had “the power to move men’s minds.”

He used his documentary work as a way to teach others about life; how people live, work, and play, the social structures that people are a part of, and the environments in which they live in. As Rothstein said of documentary photography in his 1986 book entitled Documentary Photography, “The aim is to move people to action, to change or prevent a situation because it may be wrong or damaging, or to support or encourage one because it is beneficial.”

Family of resettlement farmer, Skyline Farms, Alabama, 1935

Children of sharecropper, North Carolina, 1935


Sharecropper's children, 1935

Son of a cotton sharecropper, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, 1935





Rarely Seen Photographs Give a Unique Glimpse of Life Aboard Titanic Shortly Before Its Sinking in 1912

The Reverend Francis Patrick Mary Browne (1880-1960) was a distinguished Irish Jesuit and a prolific photographer. His best known photographs are those of the RMS Titanic and its passengers and crew taken shortly before its sinking in 1912.

In April 1912 he received a present from his uncle: a ticket for the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic from Southampton, England to Queenstown, Ireland, via Cherbourg, France. He traveled to Southampton via Liverpool and London, boarding the Titanic on the afternoon of 10 April 1912. He was booked in cabin no. A37 on the Promenade Deck. Browne took dozens of photographs of life aboard Titanic on that day and the next morning; he shot pictures of the gymnasium, the Marconi room, the first-class dining saloon, his own cabin, and of passengers enjoying walks on the Promenade and Boat decks. He captured the last known images of many crew and passengers, including Captain Edward J. Smith, gymnasium manager T.W. McCawley, engineer William Parr, Major Archibald Butt, and numerous third-class passengers whose names are unknown.

During his voyage on the Titanic, Browne was befriended by an American millionaire couple who were seated at his table in the liner's first-class dining saloon. They offered to pay his way to New York and back in return for Browne spending the voyage to New York in their company. Browne telegraphed his superior requesting permission, but the reply was an unambiguous "GET OFF THAT SHIP – PROVINCIAL".

Browne left the Titanic when she docked in Queenstown and returned to Dublin to continue his theological studies. When the news of the ship's sinking reached him, he realized that his photos would be of great interest, and he negotiated their sale to various newspapers and news cartels. They appeared in publications around the world. Browne retained the negatives. His most famous album has been described as the Titanic Album of Father Browne.

Trunks being carried aboard the Titanic, April 11, 1912.

Promenade deck of the Titanic, after leaving Southampton and passing the Portuguese RMSP Tagus, 1912.

Woman selling Irish lace aboard the Titanic, April 11, 1912.

The Titanic at Portsmouth, April 10, 1912.

Gymnasium on the Titanic, 1912.






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