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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Coal Miner's Daughter: 1938

Coal Miner's Daughter: 1938

September 1938. "Children of coal miners. Scotts Run, West Virginia." Medium format nitrate negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.

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Sad little faces

If such photos did not exist, today's generations could not even believe how hard times used to be only a few tens of years ago!

The Look

As with many of the children we see on Shorpy from the turn of the century and the depression era, the girl has a face much older than she is. She looks as if she's seen 40 years of hard times.

What an odd study in contrasts

The boy's duds look brand new -- certainly clean and freshly pressed. The little girl's dress, on the other hand, looks decidedly dirty and from the amount of wear I doubt that she's the first, or even the second, owner. (And is that a growler of beer she's toting?)

At first I took them for siblings, which made the contrast even more striking, but the caption suggests that they aren't brother and sister.

Such dignity

What a dignified little girl. You can see she's a proud kid, despite here dirty dress and tattered slip. The kid on the right seems much too prosperous for his surroundings, like a prep-school kid seeing how the other half lives.

The woman in the background

Would be a minder of miners' minors.

SHORPY OLD 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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