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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 • PROTECT HER FROM TUBERCULOSIS

Family portrait with hired help

Family portrait with hired help

I came across this image so long ago that I can't remember where I purchased it. It has always been one of my favorites though for many reasons. First, I've always been taken with the expressions, especially on the men, even the dog!

Written on the reverse in ink is "Dads four sisters + brother Oscar and hirid (sic) help." Out of the four sisters, the only one who isn't looking directly at the photographer is the sister on the right sitting next to the stern looking man with the great derby hat. She's knitting, and she's the only one not wearing a dress made of the same material as the other three. I think it's possible that she may be blind or close to it. The other women are sewing, there is thread and some kind of sewing apparatus on the table in front of them). It seems that the fellow on the right in the derby and the young fellow in the hat on the left have some sort of pattern in their laps. Perhaps they are tailors.

The three fellows seated on the ground have tools in their hands, but I can't figure out what they are exactly - except for the knife held by the one in the middle. Is it possible that the young fellow on the ground to the right is wearing some sort of Civil War uniform? I'm not sure when this photo was taken, but I get the feeling that it may be post Civil War.

I also love the odd details of this image such as the torn hat of the man in the middle, the fact that the man in the derby is missing a button which and has used a pin to fasten his vest in its place, the way that the fellow on the ground to the left has only his top button fastened.
There are handwritten names above the women, but I can't make them out. Under the young fellow to the right is written "Unlce Oscar." The photgrapher's mark is "Hesla S.A." and the town's name "Linn Grove, Ia." (I found this online - www.linngroveiowa.org) is also printed on the image.

 
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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