SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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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Life in Wartime: 1942

Life in Wartime: 1942

November 1942. Washington, D.C. "Southwest section. Two Negro boys." Large format negative by Gordon Parks, Office of War Information. View full size.

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Until urban "renewal" days, Southwest, Washington's smallest quadrant, harbored few attractions, especially for those condemned by economics and ethnicity to live there: Hogate's (a then-segregated seafood palace), Ft. McNair, and major portions of The Mall, but mostly sub-standard housing that was working-class in the 19th Century and had been going downhill steadily. There is a premature wisdom and sensitivity in these young faces, but something else besides -- perhaps a dawning realization that there is, or ought to be, more to life than what these children had yet experienced. One hopes that these two found productive outlets for their ambitions and that they, or their descendants, did well enough to be able to afford to live in the largely up-scale Southwest DC of our current century.

As for Mr. Parks, this brilliant but deceptively simple shot gives a clear glimpse into the complex and vibrant creativity he later displayed as a photo-journalist, fashion photographer, composer, writer, and, of course, film director.

Missing arm

Is the one boy missing his left arm, or it tucked in his shirt? Hard to tell.

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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