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:
"Mrs. Ocey Snead, in bed, baby in arms," December 1907 or January 1908. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size. Ocey, who was found dead in an East Orange, New Jersey, bathtub in November 1909, drugged and emaciated, was at the center of scandalous murder case involving her mentally unbalanced mother and a spinster aunt who starved herself to death while awaiting trial. Along with a third sister they were thought to have conspired to drug and starve Ocey to collect $32,000 in insurance money. Ocey had two children, one of whom died in infancy. (Coverage in the New York Times noted the discovery of small bones in the furnace at a building where Ocey lived -- a Brooklyn tenement dubbed "house of mystery" and "baby farm" by the neighbors.) One part of the mystery is how two photographs of Ocey, very much alive, ended up in Bain News Service collection of glass negatives at the Library of Congress. (The other photo is dated 12-21-07). Are they are family photos obtained in the course of covering the trial of the sisters? Or is there some reason GGB would have photographed Ocey well before she died? (Cue organ music.)
May 1911. Fries, Virginia. "T.J. Fields and family. Work at Washington Cotton Mills. The father cards, two girls spin, boy on right end picks up bobbins. Been working a year or two. Mother and smallest children not in photo." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.
Washington, D.C., 1925. "Princess Bibesco of Rumania." Priscilla Bibesco (1920-2004) led an interesting and peripatetic life. Marcel Proust and Queen Alexandra were her godparents; her father was the Romanian ambassador to Washington. When World War 2 began, she hitchhiked to Beirut to become a spy; after the Communists took over in Eastern Europe, she made her home in Paris. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.