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About the Photos

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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Burnt District: 1865

Burnt District: 1865

April 1865. "Burnt District, Richmond, Virginia. Ruins in the State Arsenal yard." View full size. Half of a wet-plate glass stereograph.

 

stereo views and viewers

Try ebay under cameras, vintage. For a lot of information about 3D, try http://www.stereoview.org, the website of the National Stereoscopic Association. Curiously, the first stereo convention I ever attended was in Richmond.

Years ago while doing Civil

Years ago while doing Civil War research for my history courses, I learned how to look at stereographic pictures without a viewer. Of course, I was looking at printed books, not a computer screen, but it might well work the same way.

Basically, you prop the book upright and gaze at it head on. Then defocus your eyes until the pictures merge. In other words, you do not focus on the page itself, but on an imaginary point beyond it, as if you were looking through the book. When you do this with a single image, you will see double -- try it now -- and when you do it with a stereo image, with practice you will be able to see a single image in 3-D. You will probably need to adjust the distance you hold the book from your eyes to get everything correctly lined up.

IIRC, it took me a week or so of attempts to get the trick, and then I was able to look at any stereophoto the way it was meant to be seen. It's tiring on the eyes, naturally, and it's harder to do in middle age than when I was a student, but when you can manage it, those pictures look amazing. :)

You can almost smell

You can almost smell the burnt building in this incredible photograph. I bet it was amazing in stereo. Can you still buy stereo viewers? It makes me wonder what this section of the city looked like before the fire.

The Fall of Richmond

It's one thing to read about the Civil War but it's quite another to SEE the destruction from the fall of Richmond, VA. Great photo. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Any clue whose photo this is?

stereoviews

Being a stereographer myself, I wonder if it would be possible to include the full pair sometimes. I find myself wishing I could see the depth the photographer envisioned when he made the exposure. I know that would mean processing two photos, but it would be wonderful to see.
In any event, thanks for a great site.

 
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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