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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 • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Miss Ohio: 1850

Miss Ohio: 1850

Cincinnati circa 1850s. "Unidentified woman, half length portrait, seated with arm on table." Sixth-plate daguerreotype by James Presley Ball. View full size.

 

The Unknown Sitter

I consider this the best of Ball's work with women. For the time, and even today, she's beautiful. And the fact she is unknown makes it strangely haunting, especially when you consider this was taken 160 years ago.

Don't you just love Daguerreotypes?

When you get one with a clean image, the level of detail is astounding. You can almost sense the texture of the cloth covering the small table she's leaning on.

Linda

Portrait of the young Linda Ronstadt.

There's a theory that there are only so many facial types, that we see likenesses in people who can't possibly be related. I tend to think it's true, the longer I live.

Mom?

Wow. She could be a relative of mine. She looks like me in all but the shape of her eyes. Even the arch of one eyebrow is consistent with mine.

Ohio

I usually object to the stock response "she looks so modern" or "she looks very contemporary", etc. I usually disagree with those sentiments when they are expressed. But something about this young lady's attentive and engaging expression does look "modern" to me. I can see this girl as an avid time-traveler! And I want the chance to get to know her!

 
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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