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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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A Happy Family: 1902

A Happy Family: 1902

Circa 1902, location not specified. "A happy family." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Spitting image

The girl second from the left looks like a clone of her grandmother!

Not enough information

They don't tell us whether Grandma's watching the youngers while the parents work, or if this is all the family that there is.

But that dust looks wonderful for smooshing bare toes around.

Quote from King Solomon

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance." The kids do appear happy and acknowledged. Unconditional love has a way of causing that. Material riches don't really enter into that equation but a strong, caring relative might.


The little boy sitting in his grandmother's lap will be a jazz musician in the 1920's!

I felt sorry because I had no shoes

When I see such a photograph, two things always come to mind:

1) the good old days were frequently overwhelmed by primitive living conditions and considerable poverty; and
2) we certainly take a lot for granted.

What were their dreams and aspirations? What impact did poverty have upon their daily lives? Did they ever obtain relief?

The older woman would have known the institution of slavery firsthand. How did she describe that to the younger children?
Count your blessings.


I've been staring at this picture for ten minutes, now. At first, I just thought it was a very sad picture, but I am seeing more in it, now. The expressions on their faces don't look like they were miserable, despite how truly dirt poor they were. Maybe the pleasant looks on their faces came from the fact that they possessed that super-human quality of valuing loved ones so highly that they felt thankful, despite having little else but each other. The girl on the left looks like she is starting to blossom into a beautiful young woman. Her posture is very elegant and lady-like. The grandmother's hands have obviously worked very hard, quite certainly from the time she was a small child.

I hope their economic situation improved at some point. They have really touched my heart and I will remember them.

What Grandma is saying

Nobody knows the troubles I've seen. Looks like they've had a rough life. Happiness is innocence.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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