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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

St. Patrick's Cathedral: 1907

St. Patrick's Cathedral: 1907

New York circa 1907. "Interior of St. Patrick's Cathedral." Faith and Begorrah! 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Oh My Aching Arms

One look at those tall altar candles brought back painful memories of my altar boy days.

You were the designated candle lighter for 10:00 Sunday High Mass. The church was full maybe even your parents and family were in attendance and you had to go out there with the Big Candle Lighter.

Your first obstacle was climbing the steps and since your hands were full of the BCL you could not control your cassock from landing under your shoes and causing an unceremonial trip.

Next you had to stretch your full 4 foot 8 frame to get the lit taper up to the top of the candle. You could not see the wick and it was all moving the BCL around until Divine Guidance led you to the wick and you had ignition.

If the altar boy who had snuffed out the candles last had been in a devilish mood he might have bore down on the candle with the snuffer and buried the wick and only the most patient and hardiest of altar boys could hold the BCL up and make ignition.

After getting all six lit you had the hurdle to navigate down the steps again without tripping.

In case you had a hard time doing your job and people were snickering you had one ace up your surplice. You could ring the bells as loud as you could and wake people up who might have snickered.

Exposure, exposure, exposure

When I look at that photo I immediately think of all the work that a photographer had to do in those days to accommodate the limitations of film. Today, digital cameras are so incredibly good, for those of use who got our feet wet in the days of film, it feels like cheating!

[Similar to digital, this exposure was also made without film. - Dave]

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale

10 years later, Edith Ewing Bouvier married Phelan Beale here in a lavish ceremony. Edith was the aunt of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill. She was also the mistress of Grey Gardens and the mother of Edith Bouvier Beale. I am more than a little obsessed with her story!

Can you hear me now?

The most interesting thing in the photo is the wonderful sounding board behind the pulpit just outside the sanctuary on the right, decorated with a dove representing the Holy Spirit. Sound projection from the days before microphones.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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