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.
Vintage photos of:
July 1939. Person County, North Carolina. A tobacco curing barn ready for "putting in," with fuel stacked on either side. The sticks are fed in through the small openings at the base. Piece of sheet iron on the left is used to cover the opening of the furnace when starting the fire. View full size. Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration.
Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865 showing the burned district along the James River. From photographs of the main Eastern theater of war and fallen Richmond compiled by Hirst Milhollen and Donald Mugridge. View full size.
As the sun rose on Richmond, such a spectacle was presented as can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. All the horrors of the final conflagration, when the earth shall be wrapped in flames and "melt with fervent heat," were, it seemed to us, prefigured in our capital. The roaring, crackling and hissing of the flames, the bursting of shells at the Confederate Arsenal, the sounds of the Instruments of martial music, the neighing of the horses, the shoutings of the multitudes, gave an idea of all the horrors of Pandemonium. Above all this scene of terror hung a black shroud of smoke through which the sun shone with a lurid angry glare like an immense ball of blood that emitted sullen rays of light, as if loath to shine over a scene so appalling. Then a cry was raised: "The Yankees! The Yankees are coming!" — Richmond resident Sallie Putnam
Upon evacuation of the city, the Confederate government authorized the burning of warehouses and supplies, which resulted in the destruction of factories and houses in the business district. Before the charred ruins of Richmond had cooled, General Robert E. Lee, with the remnant of his army, surrendered to Ulysses Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. [From Embattled Capital, on the National Park Service's Richmond National Battlefield web page.]
January 1937. "Two children of a migrant fruit worker from Tennessee, standing before their temporary home. This family of eight is camped in a field near the packinghouse at Winter Haven, Florida." View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration.