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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 • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

Cigarette Girl: 1911

Cigarette Girl: 1911

June 1911. Ethel Shumate. Has been rolling cigarettes in Danville (Virginia) factory for six months. Lives at 614 Upper Street. Said she was 13 years old, but it is doubtful. View full size. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

She Was Telling The Truth All Along.

So, while the photo's caption sat around for 100 years with Hine's proclaiming Ethel's age of 13 was "doubtful", we know now that she was telling the truth all along! Rest in peace Ethel!

[Lewis Hine was frequently "doubtful" in his caption notes as to whether these kids were as old as they said they were. But for every name we or our readers have been able to check in the Social Security Death Index, the "doubtfuls" all turn out to have been telling the truth, Shorpy himself among them. - Dave]

Ethel Shumate 1898-1981

The Social Security Death Index shows an Ethel Shumate, born on 28, Jan 1898, which would have been this girl's birth year according to the 1910 census, who died January 1981 in Flint, Michigan. There are only nine Ethel Shumates listed so it is likely her. Perhaps she never married or was divorced.

Horse Trough

It's awfully shallow for a trough, at least from this angle, but that's what I thought it was, too, since they had them then. I'm thinking now it is a spittoon or a place to dispose of cigarette/cigar butts. This was the era you would see "Don't spit" signs on the streetcars; not only was it dirty, but it spread tuberculosis.

[It's a cast-iron horse waterer, with plumbing. Somewhere around here I have a picture showing it being used. - Dave]

Billboard

What does the bottom of the Coca-Cola billboard say?

[5¢ relieves fatigue sold everywhere - Dave]

Horse Trough?

What is that next to the fire hydrant? A public trough for horses maybe?

Ethel's age

The 1910 census lists Ethel as 12. She's listed as the first child of James C. and Lucy L. Shumate living at 614 Upper St.

 
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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