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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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Groundhog Day: 1939

Groundhog Day: 1939

        Classified as a marmot, the groundhog is a member of the squirrel family, Sciuridae, within the order Rodentia. Also called a woodchuck, it is considered basically a giant North American ground squirrel. -- Encyclopaedia Britannica

This little fellow, snapped circa 1939 by Jack Allison for the Farm Security Admin­istration, didn't rate a caption, so we can't say for sure where he is other than his front porch. Whereas he used to live in a hole in the ground, his two-dimensional self now resides in the archives of the Library of Congress. View full size.

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An abORIGINAL viewpoint....

Back in the 1930's and 40's my family were hunting and fishing guides in the Lake Superior region, continuing an aspect of our Ojibwe culture that gave me familiarity with most if not all wildlife of the area. We see a prairie dog, mishawashkojiish, and a groundhog, akakojiish, differently. An adult groundhog normally weighs about ten pounds and has dark fur and lives in a single family unit, whereas an adult prairie dog is half the weigh, about five pounds with light colour fir and tail markings while living in large communal colonies. We would not see a squirrel and a chipmunk as the same, therefore by similar reasoning, tis my opinion that the animal in the photo, by its obvious light coloring, small size, and particular markings on its tail is that of a prairie dog. Wayaaseshkang


When I was in the Badlands of South Dakota almost 10 years ago, I recall numerous signs warning us humans of the danger of contracting sylvatic plague from groundhogs. Turns out that there was indeed an infected colony. In general, groundhogs have fleas like most other mammals, but the chances of catching the plague from them is very low. I was intrigued, though, by the case five years ago of the 15-year-old boy from Kyrgyzstan who died after eating barbequed groundhog infected with bubonic plague. Downright medieval.

Correction: After reading Manidoogiizhig's informative piece (above): infected colony of prairie dogs, not groundhogs.

Depression Dog

I live in Pennsylvania, and that little fellow looks decidedly unlike any woodchuck I've ever seen.

More like some wannabe Western version. He looks like his great-grandfather was a prairie dog and married a woodchuck from back East. Either that, or the Depression hit woodchucks harder than I thought.

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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