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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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The Indy Five: 1908

The Indy Five: 1908

August 1908. "Noon hour in an Indianapolis furniture factory. Witness, E.N. Clopper." View full size. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.


Say Cheese

How fast were the films or plates that these photographers used? I'd always heard that folks tended not to smile because it was tough to hold it convincingly for long enough to make the exposure. Any truth to that?

[Probably more true for the days of the daguerreotype in the 19th century, when chairs in portrait studios had neck braces to keep the subjects' heads from moving. Lewis Hine, in the captions he wrote for these photographs, noted that his younger subjects often tended to be wary, worried that they might get in trouble with bosses or parents, or lose their jobs. - Dave]

Not necessarily traditional to smile

It's far from frequent to see smiling faces in any portraits of the period. Photography was still a serious business for people; even in portraits of that time it was far from obligatory to smile.


Have a look at Indiana Janes

It's rare

Notsotricky, it is rare to find a smiling face in photographs by Lewis Wickes Hines in this period. Every tenement apartment is filthy, every parent of a child worker shown is neglectful and usually a drunkard, and every child labourer has the stare of someone who has seen too much war.

Just wondering

I've been looking at your blog for a while now and I was just wondering, was anyone ever happy before 1941?

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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