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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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Two Thanksgiving maskers circa 1911. View full size. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.



I wonder if this tradition is related to "souling" in England. Kids went house to house asking for soul cakes. Remember the Peter, Paul and Mary song -- "an apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry, anything good to make us all merry." I was born in the Midwest in 1950 and never heard of this tradition. My mother however perpetuated the tradition of St. Nicholas night, Dec. 12, where we were to leave a small plate on the floor by our bed to find an orange, gum and candy the next morning. I never understood why! Wonder how many other odds-and-ends traditions are lurking out there in America.

The masks!

Those masks are absolutely terrifying! Much scarier than anything we have for Halloween nowadays!


I wonder if this is related to the tradition of mummery.

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Never ever knew such a tradition existed, interesting. And I like that you are not afraid in this politically correct world to let these photographs and history just speak for themselves, good or bad.

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | 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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