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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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Biloxi Shrimps: 1911

Biloxi Shrimps: 1911

March 1911. Biloxi, Mississippi. "View of the Gorenflo Canning Co., taken at 7 a.m. Many tiny workers here, some of whom began to arrive at the factory as early as 5 o'clock, an hour before they were allowed to begin work, and long before daylight on a damp foggy day. The whistle had blown and they came and stood around merely to hold their places. When the shrimp 'catch' has been good, they begin work early, but today it was not good so they were waiting for daylight. In this group I ascertained the ages of a few, as follows. One child of 6 years, one of 7, two of 8, one of 10 and there were many more." (Lewis Wickes Hine.) View full size.

 

Still shrimpin'

Gorenflos is still in the seafood industry, mainly the retail side.I would imagine the dogs kept the rats and cats away.The canneries do have a gut wrenching odor especially in the heat of summer.

Hard Work

Unlike most of these types of photos, you can make out more than a few smiles, and people seem to be conversing with one another. It must have been awfully stinky, but they seem to be rather content.

Got shrimp?

It makes me think of Bubba in Forrest Gump. "They knows all there is to know about the shrimping business."

Hard, cold work

Even Mississippi is cold in March, and that barefoot kid with the worried look was surely numb from the cold and the wet before the day was half over, and they all must have had numb, sore, and torn up hands by day's end. It looks like an integrated work force, and I spied what looked to me like a half-pint of whiskey, or a similar bottle, near a woman's shoe.

Toppers

This image from the past has a magnificent variety of headwear including a fedora, straw hats, caps, bonnets and scarves.

Shrimp boats are a-comin'

Peeling fresh whole shrimp is unpleasant work. There are lots of sharp pointy edges that make your fingers bleed. And eww - eyeballs, too! I know this was a lot less dangerous than some of the other jobs Hine photographed, but I certainly don't envy them having to stand around and peel shrimp all day long. And yet they look happy and grateful, for the most part. I'll have to remember this next time I grumble on a Monday morning.

Free dog III

Love the dog, among other thing a very efficient means of assuring that any shrimps that get dropped on the floor will never get returned to the tables. (Anyone who thinks dogs won't eat shellfish can visit my house.)

Hosed

There appears to be a watering hose, not unlike a fire-hose, the nozzle of which, is hanging on the first wooden post. It snakes to the right. Is it a fire-hose or used to wash the tables?

May swear off shrimp

Wow! I might be upset at the sight of 2 dogs in a food preparation facility if it were not for the condition of the whole area. Looks like the workers had to bring their own buckets and bowls. And look at the piles of, uh, debris on the floor and everywhere. What a charming fragrance this place must have had!

 
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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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