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About the Photos

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 • KEEP CLEAN WPA POSTER, 1939

Old Man River: 1910

Old Man River: 1910

The sternwheeler City St. Joseph on the Mississippi River circa 1910. "Unloading cotton on the levee. Memphis, Tennessee." 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

 

Tote that barge, lift that bale

At the time this photo was taken, my mom was a newborn to a coal miner in Pennsylvania, while in a Conn. copper foundry, my father's dad was toiling in front of a blast furnace 8 to 10 hrs. a day. These were not easy times for most people who had to do the hard labor necessary to support their families. Meanwhile in Memphis, these men were also enduring backbreaking jobs to make a buck. I've heard countless stories of the generations before us who seemed to have performed superhuman feats daily in order to provide for all of us and to build up America. They must be remembered as heroes. We sometimes don't realize the effort involved in turning raw materials into useful products.

Cotton talk

Driving around the South in October you can see what, to some, look like giant loaves of bread sitting at the side of the cotton fields. These are called "Cotton Modules" and are compacted cotton picked by machines waiting to be shipped to the cotton gin. Each module holds approximately 14.5 to 15 bales of cotton. A bale of cotton is said to average around 500 pounds.

Bail

I assume that's a bail of cotton? Three men pushing each, how much did they weigh? (not the men)

[More like a bale. "Bail" is for jail. - Dave]

Rollin' On the River

Now we know the true meaning of the phrase.

 
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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