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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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Hot Sugar: 1942

Hot Sugar: 1942

January 1942. Guanica, Puerto Rico. "Burning a sugar cane field. This process destroys the leaves and makes the cane easier to harvest." Medium-format safety negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

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Dirty War

Reminds me of northern Argentina during the 1970s while the military fought the leftist guerilla and it rained soot from the sugar cane harvest's burning fields.


Even in the 80s in the Rio Grande Valley; I remember charred bits of sugar cane leaves floating through the air. Don't know where the fields were or how far the wind carried the stuff.

Da Do Rum Rum

This was still a common practice in the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, at least) in the early '60s. I remember a hair-raising nighttime taxi ride through the cane fields during which the taxi would stop periodically while a fire singed the cane by the side of the road. At the time, the cane was grown mostly to feed the needs of the Cruzan rum distillery. Rum was probably the end use of the Puerto Rican cane, too.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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