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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

Louis Pelissier: 1916

Louis Pelissier: 1916

June 19, 1916. Fall River, Mass. Louis Pelissier, 29 Eighth Street, 16 years old (May 16, 1916). Applicant 2nd grade - deficient mentality. Doesn't know name of place where he is going to work. Made it out for Small's mill, they weren't sure. Had been a sweeper but work was too hard for him. Didn't know how much he was to get. (Miss Smith to see what kind of card he got.) Worked at Union Mill, $3.27, as a sweeper. View full size. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Lewis Hine

About a year ago I read a book titled "Empire Rising" by Thomas Kelly. It is a novel taking place around 1930 about the construction of the Empire State Building. Hine was the "official" photographer for the building, I suppose, hired by the corporation that built it. He is referred to often in the book. The copy I have (a full size paperback) has a picture on the cover of the building under construction in 1931, an amazing shot of a worker standing high up on the superstructure apparently sending a signal by pointing at someone below. The description of the photo on the back cover of the book describes it as "ATOP EMPIRE STATE - in construction: CHRYSLER BUILDING & (DAILY) NEWS IN MIDDLE FOREGROUND." I can plainly see the Chrysler Building, but they must have cropped the News building out of the shot. The picture is in the collection of the NY Public Library, which is not too far from where I live, and I think I'll walk over and see if I can see the original. I don't know if you have access to it, but it it's a natural for Shorpy.
Mel Tillman (Mr Mel).

Louis date of birth

I think we have a typo, DOB probably May 16, 1900. I assume he was paid $3.27 per week. How did Hine find these people?

[Oops. Fixed. Actually I think he is saying Louis turned 16 on May 16, 1916; I should not have added the word "born." But yes, 1900 is when he would have been born. From what I gather reading Hine's caption notes, he traveled from town to town to various factories looking for working kids. Many places had signs outside saying BOYS WANTED. He spent 16 years doing this (1908-1924), taking thousands of photographs with a gigantic view camera that must have weighed around a hundred pounds. - Dave]

 
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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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